The Non-Traditional Season

Gene McCabe

Gene McCabe

By: Gene McCabe
Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach

This is such an exciting time of year! With fall comes a renewed energy and excitement. There is a great sense of anticipation in the air. The word potential comes to mind when I think about the fall. Fall sports are underway and the start of another school year is upon us. While most of us associate the fall athletic season with cross country, field hockey, football, soccer, and volleyball, a handful of teams are beginning their non-traditional season.

You are probably wondering what a “non-traditional” season is? The non-traditional season, or “fall ball” or “spring ball” is a short season allowed by the NCAA that is completely separate from our “traditional” or “regular” seasons. For baseball, golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, and men’s and women’s tennis the non-traditional season takes place in early fall shortly after school begins. The NCAA allows all Division III programs 16 dates of organized activity during the non-traditional segment. As part of those 16 dates, 1 date of competition is permitted with an outside team plus 1 alumni game. The results of these competitions are not countable towards our regular season win loss record.

What exactly is the purpose of a non-traditional season? Most coaches use this time of the year to evaluate talent. It is a time four our seniors to assume the leadership roles passed on to them by the seniors who graduated last spring. It is a time for our returning players to show the coaches how hard they worked over the summer. It is also the first time our coaching staff gets to see our recruited first year players perform as Generals. In addition it is a chance for us to invite all students interested in playing for the team to tryout. Each year there are a few young men who will make the team as walk-ons.

Over the course of 16 dates we come together. Our values, expectations, and team philosophy are introduced to our new players and re-enforced in our returning players. By the end of the fall our team chemistry is established and our first year players feel like they are part of a team. Leadership roles crystallize, preliminary depth charts are established, and individual strengths and weaknesses are assessed.

In the off-season, our coaching staff breaks down the previous season and identifies areas of strength and areas of improvement. We prioritize this list and pick the top 2 or 3 on the list we want to focus on during the non-traditional segment of our year. We feel as a coaching staff that if we try to accomplish too much we could end up accomplishing nothing.

One of the things many coaches try to do during their non-traditional segment is hold an alumni game. These events are competitive and a lot of fun. This is a special opportunity for our former players to come back to W&L and connect with current players. It is always great to see how well our graduates are doing in the real world and I am reminded every year how passion, loyal and generous our alumni are. They are Generals for life! The pride and love they have for W&L and their team is visible and they pass that down to our current players.

Finally and most importantly, we HAVE FUN! It is a time to focus just on us and enjoy playing the game we love without the pressures that come with a regular season and a run at the NCAA tournament. Each of those 16 days are cherished by our coaches and players. It is a great time of year! An opportunity we are very fortunate to have.

Good luck to all of our fall sport teams! Go Generals!

Gene McCabe – Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach


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