St. Gregory’s is a small, Catholic liberal arts college located less than an hour east of Oklahoma City, and it also hosts one of the contenders to win the Lone Star Alliance Division II championship this year. What's the story behind this up-and-coming program?
MCLA.us invited Cavaliers’ head coach Bryan Seaman into the “5 Questions” booth to get the inside scoop.
MCLA: How did a couple of guys – you and your assistant Kevin Mulvey – from Peabody, Mass., and Mount Ida (Mass.) College find their way to Central Oklahoma to coach lacrosse?
BS: It all started in early 2012 when I was looking for a college lacrosse coaching job. I started applying to positions around the country and heard back from Indiana Tech about their GA position. About two years later I started looking for full time head coaching jobs. I saw that St. Gregory's advertised for a full-time head coach and was a start-up program, which was something that caught my interest.
I was faced with a tough decision because I was committed to the Indiana Tech program. I negotiated a scenario where I would have a trusted assistant coach come out and start recruiting for the following season before I arrived. Having previously coached high school football with Kevin Mulvey, as well as playing lacrosse with him from high school through college, I knew he could handle the job. I offered him the position and about two weeks later, he started the drive out. He was on campus by himself for about two months before I moved down.
I was attracted to the job because it gave me the opportunity to coach full time and start a program from scratch. It's a difficult road, but I'm very passionate about the work and we have a great group of young men that work as hard as any I've seen. It's an opportunity that we're excited to build upon every day.
MCLA: The Cavaliers were a goal away from nationals last year. Did that take a little while for the staff and players to get over this fall, or is St. Gregory’s on to 2016?
BS: That loss on championship weekend stuck with us for quite a while, and I believe it’s one of those things that never truly goes away. Nor would I want it to. We were right on the doorstep of accomplishing a lot of goals that we set out to achieve. I know nobody else expected us to be in the national tournament, but if you asked the guys on our roster, that was the main goal we set out to accomplish from day one and we fully expected to be in Southern California in May.
Once the initial sting wore off, we all felt a bit of accomplishment for how far we came as a team in one season and felt encouraged about how far we can take this program in the future. Once we came together this fall and saw the talent we had on the roster and how hard everyone was willing to work to take this program to the next level, the sting of that loss started to go away.
At this point we're, all just very hungry for the start of the season and to get another shot at some of our lofty goals. This program will always set its sights on nationals and this year is no different.
MCLA: The LSA will be operating without an automatic qualifier this year. Did that change the way you scheduled? What are some of the non-conference games you’ll have to catch the committee’s eye?
BS: I was very disappointed to hear that the LSA had lost its automatic qualifying bid to nationals, but not very surprised. Once we lost that game last spring, we knew that the AQ would most likely be stripped from the conference. So I was focused all summer on finding a way to add quality opponents out of conference. Although I believe the LSA D-II is steadily improving and, as a whole, will be much better than in previous years, the league will not earn any respect until teams start winning out of conference.
We are playing multiple teams that have either been in the national tournament or will be in the conversation this season. We will be going up against Missouri Valley and Indiana Tech – both very difficult opponents who have been in and around the top ten in recent years. Tennessee Wesleyan and Metro State are also important non-conference games. Tennessee Wesleyan plays a quality SELC schedule every year and Metro State is the preseason pick to win the RMLC. If we can win those games, we should be one of the teams being talked about on Selection Sunday.
MCLA: With the exception of two sophomores, the roster was all freshmen last year. You’ll obviously still be young, but who are the leaders on this young group? What do they bring to the table?
BS: We are a very young team and those freshmen last year had to grow up fast in order for us to have a chance against the juniors and seniors we saw every game. Because of what they went through last season, they have all developed leadership qualities and do a great job coming together as a group and policing themselves. We have about as mature a group of freshmen and sophomores you could have
They have made it very difficult on the staff when it comes to deciding captains. We have had one guy stick out on and off the field: James Smith. On the field he was one of the best freshmen in the country, scoring 60 goals, which was second most in D-II, and was Rookie of the Year in the conference and honorable mention All-American. He takes care of his business in the classroom, weight room, locker room, on the field and in the community. He is currently the only captain we have and the program has had to date.
MCLA: Shawnee, Okla., would have to be classified as an “emerging” area of the lacrosse. What are the challenges and benefits of selling St. Gregory’s?
BS: Recruiting in an area with so few lacrosse teams and none of them being at the varsity level is absolutely a challenge. I prefer to look at the silver lining. Being the only varsity lacrosse program in the state of Oklahoma, we have gotten a great deal of attention from the teams that are in the area. We have had a great opportunity to work directly with the best players in the state over the past year and a half, and we have nine players from the state on our roster. With Oklahoma being almost dead center in the United States, I have used that to our advantage, recruiting six players to our team from the East and West coasts, adding a great deal of diversity to our roster.
With St. Gregory's being a small, private, catholic liberal arts university, you tend to attract a specific type of person. There are a lot of people in the area looking to go to bigger schools, but I know we offer a unique experience that many recruits are looking for.
2016 St. Gregory's Schedule
|Feb. 12||at Abilene Christian*||TBA|
|Feb. 14||at Oklahoma||12 p.m.|
|Feb. 20||St. Mary*||2:30 p.m.|
|Feb. 24||at Tulsa*||4 p.m.|
|Feb. 27||vs. Tennessee Wesleyan (neutral)||12 p.m.|
|March 5||at UT-Dallas*||7 p.m.|
|March 6||at Tarleton State*||1 p.m.|
|March 9 ||Oklahoma State*||4 p.m.|
|March 11||Dallas Baptist*||4 p.m.|
|March 14||at Johnson & Wales||TBA|
|March 15||at Metro State||TBA|
|March 20||at Ottawa||12 p.m.|
|March 25||at Missouri Valley||3 p.m.|
|March 26||vs. Indiana Tech (neutral)||TBA|
|April 2||at Clarke*||11 a.m.|
|April 3||vs. St. Ambrose (neutral)||1 p.m.|
|April 9||Benedictine*||1 p.m.|
|April 10||Stephen F. Austin*||1 p.m.|
* - indicates Lone Star Alliance game