The Oregon men’s club lacrosse team returns a lot of veteran players this year, but there is one significant change: A familiar face is moving up in the ranks to lead the Ducks as head coach for the 2016-2017 season.
Markus McCaine, an Oregon grad student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, was the defensive coordinator last season. He was recently promoted to head coach after the team “mutually parted ways” with former head coach Jon Bongiorno near the beginning of this school year.
Prior to becoming the defensive coordinator last season, McCaine played collegiately at the University of Buffalo. From there, he was an assistant coach at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he led his team to a national championship, and then moved on to serve as the head coach at the University of Alabama.
Now as the head coach at Oregon, McCaine has begun to implement his coaching style into practices. One thing that he has particularly focused on is speed.
“We try to do things a little bit faster than last year,” McCaine said. “We try to buy into that whole Oregon brand that the athletic department is doing. Just trying to play as fast as possible. We’ve got a lot of legs this year and a lot of great players, so if we can turn up the tempo, we’re trying to do that in practice so that when we get out in games it will kind of translate.”
Many athletes may not be overly excited with a running and conditioning-emphasized coaching mentality, but this team has embraced it. They want to be “the fastest team in the league.”
“We don’t walk on the field, we don’t walk in between the lines when we’re in the drills,” senior Justin Knowles said. “They’re designed to push us mentally and physically. So when we do just running, that is to get us tired; that is just the start of it. Once we’re tired, we want to play fast and we want to learn how to play fast while we’re tired. That’s kind of the mentality we’re having and we just want to push it, and go faster and faster and faster. That’s the goal, to be fast.”
Overall, McCaine’s transition from defensive coordinator to head coach has been easy for this team to adapt to.
“Him coming into head coach was also very smooth. … We’re running more and we’re just being more efficient with our time, so it’s a pretty good thing so far,” senior Chris Damewood said.
Now that McCaine has embraced the job of head coach, he has high aspirations for the year ahead and is excited to progress in his newfound role.
“It’s every coach’s dream to kind of be in charge at some point,” McCaine said “It’s great being a coordinator, but I think that everybody has that dream down the road of being in charge. It’s kind of surreal for me that it’s happening, but it’s exciting. A little nervous, but I think that once we get into the game, that’ll all kind of fade away.”
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