The Britons just completed their third year and finished 6-10. They are a program on the rise and are led by Head Coach Jake DeCola. Coach DeCola and I spoke recently and he gave me an update on the upcoming season, the recruiting trail and the state of the program.
How is the program taking shape?
As you know, we are getting prepared for our fourth season and hope once again that this coming year will prove to be the most successful season to date. In our first three years we have made leaps in both our performance on the field as well as recruiting, and once again we are very excited about next year and our team.
How is the recruiting going?
Recruiting this year is going very well and we are excited with our 2013 prospects at this point. Our 2012 group is very strong, and they still have yet to arrive on campus. We know that there are many impact players in our 2012 group, and we are excited for our first practice.
What is the best selling point for your program?
Quite simply, our strength is our history of over 177 years of academic excellence. We have been ranked nationally among the top schools in the nation, and are considered to be one of the top small liberal arts schools in this part of the country. Our education, the beauty of our campus and our placement rate after graduation speaks for itself, not to mention our strong tradition of athletics. Our football team for example, just won the MIAA conference and participated in the NCAA tournament this past season. We also sent a player to the Detroit Lions in the third round of the most recent NFL draft. Albion College has the reputation for being one of the best out there, and our lacrosse program will be no different. We have just released plans for a top notch lacrosse facility on campus, and construction will move quickly once we start the project.
What are the difficulties?
We have little in the way of difficulties now that our message is out. We do face the challenge of playing against established programs, and we also try to schedule the toughest teams that we can. I believe that by challenging ourselves with tough competition we will continually improve. Playing the best will help us prepare for long term success at the Division III level.
Who did you recruit?
Jacob Zajac, Defense, Holt.
Jake is a very strong and physical defenseman from a top notch program. He received a lot of attention due to his size and on-ball ability. What really sets him apart for us is the coaching he received at Holt in the Lacrosse and football programs there. We see Jake making an impact right away and look forward to seeing him continue to develop into a top player in our program.
Taylor Zuke, Midfield, Stoney Creek.
TJ is perhaps one of the fastest midfielders to graduate in Michigan in the 2012 class. His speed can be tough to defend and we look forward to watching him create separation in both transition and settled situations. We know that he has the ability to be a threat for us right away.
Dylan Neal, Midfield, Catholic Central.
Dylan Neal has to be one of the hardest working kids in our group and is a very determined athlete. Hailing from one of the strongest programs in MI, he can run shoot and create offense. Although he is very skilled, he is at his best in transition where he showcases his work ethic; and he never tires. He gets stronger each time I see him, and we are very excited to watch him continue to develop his upside.
Kyle Missant, Midfield, L’anse Creuse North.
Kyle is a scrappy Midfielder who gets the job done all over the field. He is also a strong pure shooter, and is always actively working on his mechanics to continue to be a threat. We think he will be a strong addition to an already solid group of middies, and could make an impact right away in the man up unit.
Brent Fragnoli, Face off, Detroit Country Day.
Brent is a strong pick up for us at the face off position. He possesses the physical tools of a true face off specialist and works very hard to be good at his craft. We think he will develop into an outstanding specialist for us and are very excited by the physical play he will bring into our program every day. Coming from one of the top programs in the state, he was a dual athlete with a football and lacrosse background.
Cameron Smyk, Defense/Long Stick Midfield, Birmingham Seaholm.
Cam is a very strong defenseman with the ability to play up top in the Midfield as well. I first saw Cam, I think, as a sophomore and was very impressed with his ability to play a very big style, although at the time he was well under 6′. Cam comes in with a great skill set, a strong base of both on-ball and off-ball play, and he could be one of our strongest transition players.
Brad Bogus, Attack, Lake Orion.
Brad has strong skills, but his strength lies with both his soft hands and his athletic ability. He can handle almost any ball within 6 yards of him and finds a way to finish each time. He is one of the strongest riding attackmen we will have, and never quits on plays that seem hopeless. Because of his determination, I have often seen him ride all the way to the midline, create a turnover, and score off the play.
Cameron Braun, Attack, Bowmanville, Ontario.
Cam may be the most dynamic of our attackmen in the class of 2012. He is a skilled Canadian with a pretty exciting skill set and is a good inside finisher. Often Canadians take heat for keeping the ball too long; what sets Cam apart is his ability to share the ball well to teammates. We think he has the ability to be a threat early for us, and look forward to seeing him continue to master the field game.
Ryan Sweeny, Attack, Midland.
Ryan may be one of the most highly skilled attackmen in the group. He is extremely hard working, and has a great stick. We think he could make an impact on our man up unit, and look forward to seeing him develop as an athlete. He has quick feet and possesses a strong sense of the offensive game thanks to excellent coaching at the High school level.
Daniel Kaminski, Midfield, Brother Rice.
Daniel trained at one of the top High School Programs in the country. I first saw him as a junior, receiving a good deal of playing time at Rice, especially in the many one-sided victories that he was a part of. I know that his experience as a champion combined with his physical tools will set him up for success with us. We are very excited with what he brings to the table and think he will have a very productive first year.
Kevin O’Grady, Attack, Clarkston.
Kevin enters the fall as our first High School All American. From Clarkston, a top High School program, he is a player that we identified early in his junior year as an athlete to really keep an eye on. I have been impressed with him and have enjoyed watching him develop into a solid triple threat. His skill set, work ethic and motivation, and his ability to take over a game are his strengths. O’G still has his best lacrosse in front of him, and we are very excited about his potential to help us create a winning culture here at Albion.
Travis Craft, Attack, Clarkston.
Craft’s name says it all… Travis is a very skilled attackman who is very crafty around the cage. He finds new and exciting ways to finish that impress even his teammates. We are sure his skills will translate to the college game because of his ability to score in tight situations, while also taking a physical beating,
Ethan Frick, Defense, Clarkston.
Ethan is a very physical player who comes to us with a Football, wrestling, and lacrosse background. He is an extremely strong athlete, with a solid base and the ability to shut down offensive players. We think his physical style will bring much needed intensity to our program, and I am sure that he will quickly become a difference maker for us on Defense.
Jordan Hempfling, Goal, Midland.
At roughly 6’2″ Jordan will help us fill the goal in a much needed way. All of our athletes in goal right now are smaller kids (who do a nice job), but with Jordan’s size, he is quite simply hard to score on. We look forward to working with him to continue to develop his style, and think that he will continue to become a solid athlete in our program.
Nick Dimaggio, Midfield, Lahser.
Nick is an extremely athletic midfielder who has trained with very good summer teams. He comes to us with energy and determination and the ability to transition the ball from Defense to Offense. He will also be a threat to get to the cage. I have seen Nick cover 80 yards and look fresh immediately; his athleticism and enthusiasm are among his trademarks. Nick brings a strong work ethic to our program and never takes a shift off. Because of this, I know he will be pushing everyone around him to be at their best.
Mike Meshinski, Long Stick Midfield/Defense, Utica Eisenhower.
Mike was originally recruited as a Long Stick Midfielder, but we will be looking at him for close defense as well. Mike is a physical monster at about 6’4″ and still growing. He is able to spread out and simply shut down the opposition. We think his potential is far from untapped, and his attitude and work ethic is hard to match. We know that he has the determination and mental toughness to make a significant impact in our program right away. We are very excited by what he brings to the table and think he will quickly rise to be among our best.
What are your expectations for 2013?
Our goal is to be among the top teams in our conference and to continue to be the best team we can be on and off the field. We have a few projects that we have started to raise awareness, and we also have begun a donation program with our athletes. Several of our players have come in with longer hair, and we encourage them to grow their hair to a length that is suitable for donation.
How can players / parents contact you?
I can be reached through the contact information listed on our website.