by Dave Franklin | MCLA.us
Every year, seniors are given exit interviews to gauge how their experience was, whether it was in the class room or institutionally. As part of the process, I’ll be conducting insightful and humorous senior surveys of various programs.
We’re starting with Cal and its six seniors: Stuart Jennings, Cameron Lopez, Max Scott, Josh Chen, Shay Urrea, Nate DeGroat.
Dave Franklin: What's the best part of being a senior on the 2019 Cal men's lacrosse team?
Stuart Jennings: I enjoy having a strong understanding of what it takes to be successful on and off the field as a member of the team. This has come with trial and error over four years, but is now second nature.
Cameron Lopez: I’ve been able to see the growth of this program from a decent mid-level program to a national powerhouse over the last four years, and being able to experience all of the ‘firsts’ we’ve accomplished [first league championship in 18 years, first No. 1 ranking in just as many years, etc.] is really something special.
Max Scott: The best part of the Cal lacrosse squad is how much fun we have together. I know everything about every guy on this team and I would consider all of them, including the coaches, some of my closest friends. We work hard together, but we also play hard together.
Josh Chen: Having played in the system for four years, I think that I am much more comfortable than I was when I first started playing. That has allowed me to just play lacrosse, and makes the game that much more fun.
Shay Urrea: It is very special because our roster from the top-down is pretty young. There's lot more accountability and leadership required from us more than ever.
Nate DeGroat: Being a senior earns you a lot of respect from the younger players. It’s cool being looked up to at practice.
DF: What has been your favorite part of the season so far?
SJ: The win against Chapman this year was definitely the highlight thus far. The game was an absolute thriller, and the energy from our team was electric. I think we realized our potential after that game.
CL: My favorite part of the season so far was playing Chapman, when we scored two behind the back goals in a row to take the lead late in the fourth quarter and eventually win.
MS: Beating Chapman at their place was a pretty great feeling. We have been a competitive team for a couple of years now, but I think winning that game really showed that we are here to contend for the national title.
JC: My favorite part of every season is getting to know the team and building an identity, and this year is no different. There is something special about playing lacrosse every day with a group of guys you enjoy being around. I will miss a lot after this year.
SU: It's hard to look away from that Chapman upset a few weeks ago. We really showed what we've been working at all fall in that game as we battled against lots of adversity and came out victorious.
ND: My favorite part of the season thus far was our back and forth win against Chapman. We started slow, but battled back from down four goals to get a really exciting win.
DF: What's the funniest thing Coach Webster has said or done in practice over the course of the last four years?
SJ: Coach has some very creative nicknames for many guys on the team.
CL: His nicknames. He likes to come up with cheesy nicknames for people, and is especially fond of puns. His best has got to be “Obi Won Chenobi” for Josh Chen.
MS: Coach Web is always coming up with new nicknames for us.
JC: I got a new nickname this year, "Obi Wan Chenobi". The first time Coach Webster brought it up, I didn't really believe that it was happening. It has caught on though, and I think it's starting to grow on me.
SU: Coach Web is full of quotes. But I don't think anything beats "[Jiminy] Christmas, what are we doooin' fellas?" in his deep Baltimore accent. Cracks me up every time.
ND: Coach Webster has thought of some interesting nicknames over the years, some of which have been pretty funny whether intentional or not.
DF: What do you feel will be the biggest challenge this season?
SJ: Staying strong and healthy as a team for the MCLA tournament. Last season we battled many injuries late in the season.
CL: Maintaining the same level of intensity as we go into the back end while playing all of our most challenging opponents earlier in the season.
MS: It is always challenging to balance lacrosse with my personal and professional life. Being a part of this team is a big commitment, but we all have several classes and part-time jobs that we can't ignore. I think one of the best things about our squad is that we are all balanced guys who work hard to get it done on and off the field.
JC: Building a team identity which allows us to respond to adversity in a positive way is usually pretty difficult, but I think we are on the right track. In our game against Chapman earlier this season, we were down 5-1 early. I loved the way we fought back, and we ended up winning 15-14. There are always things to improve on, but I think our team identity is coming together well.
SU: Trying to elevate each week. We have many goals set for this season, but those goals can't be reached if we don't try to find that best versions of ourselves week in and week out. So we must hold each other accountable and really buy in, so everyone gives their all. That's tough because everyone has lives outside of lacrosse, especially at Berkeley. Thus far, we've been optimizing balance really well this season, so hopefully we can keep it up.
ND: This is my first year playing LSM. I think I’ve improved a lot thus far, but there’s still a lot of room for more improvement.
DF: What's the coolest venue that you've competed at over the course of your MCLA career?
SJ: I think it is amazing to play every home game in Memorial Stadium. Other than that, playing under the mountains in Salt Lake City was special because I had never been to Utah before.
CL: The coolest venue I’ve competed at is, of course, Memorial Stadium here at Cal.
MS: Chapman's stadium is pretty cool, but no one can hold a candle to Memorial Stadium of course!
JC: Nothing beats playing our home games in Memorial Stadium. I don't think there is a better venue in the MCLA.
SU: Call it home cooking, but there has yet to be a venue that has outshined California Memorial Stadium. I mean our venue is on TV every Saturday in the fall!!
ND: The California Memorial Stadium. It’s awesome playing every home game in one of the best venues around.
DF: Aaron Rodgers or Jared Goff?
SJ: Jared Goff. He went to my rival high school in Marin. It's great to see athletes from the same area have success.
CL: JG16, baby.
MS: Right now it’s still Rodgers. If Goff beat the Patriots then maybe I would feel differently.
JC: Rodgers. He's just better.
SU: Aaron. I mean he's the best quarterback of all time not named Tom Brady.
ND: Aaron Rodgers all day, every day. Rodgers is an elite, accurate passer, almost as good as Carson Wentz
DF: Best spot(s) to eat on and off campus in Berkeley?
SJ: Han's Bistro is a classic brunch spot. Cesar is a hidden gem in the gourmet ghetto.
CL: Best spot off campus is probably Jupiter.
MS: Here's a couple that I have to mention: fried chicken sandwich from The Bird, breakfast burrito from Mezzo, pizza from Sliver, beer and french fries at Raleigh's.
JC: A Taco Bell Cantina opened up near us recently, and I love Taco Bell. Maybe not everyone's favorite, but it definitely fires me up.
SU: On campus, GBC. Those breakfast burritos hit different. Off campus, The Bird. The Bird's chicken sandwiches blow Chick-fil-A's out the park.
ND: My go-to spot near campus is Tacos Sinaloa. In my opinion, it’s the best burrito in Berkeley.
DF: What's the best class you have taken at Cal, and why?
SJ: I am a strong believer that professors can make or break a class. As a result, my favorite class was upper division microeconomics with Professor Fitch. He brought energy, intelligence and even vulgarity to the class.
CL: The best class I’ve taken here has been computer science 160, which is user interface design. It’s been my favorite because that’s actually what I want to do for a career, so it was great to actually enjoy the projects being assigned to us. It was also really cool being able to learn new techniques and build my portfolio.
MS: The most interesting technical course I have taken would probably be a tie between Intro to Computer Security or Algorithms in Computational Biology. The most fun class would have to be A Global History of Soccer, shout out to Professor James Vernon and his boys at Ipswich Town!
JC: The class I learned the most in here at Cal was probably Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering 150A, which was on momentum and heat transfer. I thought the subject matter was really interesting. It was cool seeing the physics and math I had learned in previous classes get integrated into solutions with physical significance.
SU: Astronomy C10. Professor was hysterical and I've always been an astro nerd since I was a kid, so I loved it.
ND: I took a corporate finance class, where our professor, who was a full-time private equity professional, structured the class more as a Socratic discussion rather than lecture. I enjoyed the material and learned a ton.
DF: What's your best Cal lacrosse memory to date?
SJ: I will always remember our MCLA playoff game against Colorado in 2017. We made a big comeback led by Nick Sheehan stinging corners, and capped off by a sweet overtime goal by Peter Dykas.
CL: My best Cal Lacrosse memory was beating Colorado in overtime in the 2017 National tournament to advance to the semifinals. We rallied from a five-goal deficit or something like that, and everyone was going crazy when Peter Dykas scored to win it after a huge save by our goalie Bert Schmickel.
MS: Not to be confused with our quarterfinal win versus Colorado in 2017, I know I will always remember last season, beating Boulder in the first round of nationals despite being ranked much lower than them. My younger brother who is actually the one that got me into lacrosse is a stud LSM for the Buffs and we were talking a lot of [smack] to each other before that game. Our dad came out and wore a Colorado polo and Cal hat to the game. The picture of the three of us that day is still my phone background.
JC: My favorite memory was our overtime win versus Colorado in the 2017 MCLA quarterfinals. That game was just nuts.
SU: Colorado in 2017. That is best lacrosse game I've ever seen in person, let alone be a part of. I still dream about Nick Sheehan's ('17) snipes in that game every now and then.
ND: Beating Colorado in overtime in the MCLA quarterfinals. I cleared the ball after a long defensive possession and had the winning assist.
DF: Fill in the blank – the men's lacrosse team at Stanford University is good at ________.
SJ: Defense because they have Jepsen as head coach.
CL: The men’s lacrosse team at Stanford is good at responding to great coaching, because they have a phenomenal head coach in former Cal defensive coordinator Paul Jepsen. It seems like it’s paying off for them this season so far.
MS: Now that Paul Jepsen is over there, I guarantee that they know how to play defense!
JC: I'm sure they are good at something, just can't think of any examples right now.
SU: Giving Cal our first trophy of each season.
ND: Coaching. Shout out to Coach Jep.
DF: Which member of the team has the best hidden talent (and what is it) ?
CL: The player with the best hidden talent is probably Matt Keany, who is a competitive gamer. He’s insane at Fortnite and Counterstrike.
MS: Between myself, Matt Keany, and former teammate JP Josi, we have 100+ Fortnite Victory Royales.
JC: Rumor has it that quite a few of our rookies are talented singers, and that some of them rap as well.
SU: Rookie McAvoy can lay down Eminem verses word-for-word like no other.
ND: Matt Keany: he spends way too much time playing video games and yes, is pretty good at them.
DF: What are you most looking forward to after graduation?
SJ: I am planning to travel with some close friends for several months before beginning to work full time.
CL: I’m most looking forward to going to grad school next year. I haven’t made my decision yet but I’m choosing between Cal and University of Washington for Human Computer Interaction.
MS: I hope that I get a chance to travel for a month or two. I don't have any concrete plans yet, but I expect to be returning to Cal for a Master's Degree in Computer Science.
JC: I'm excited to be doing something new. It's going to be weird being out of school, but I think that I'm ready for the next stage, whatever it may be.
SU: I mean, like most college seniors, income. I think my parents are just about tired of funding my weekly trips to The Bird, haha. But also, working to being the best at something new. For the past four years, I've been trying to be the best lacrosse player I could be. But now I'm seeing my time is up in that aspect, so I'm very excited to see what's my new passion.
ND: Besides being done with exams, I’m looking forward to finally earning some money.
DF: You guys play pretty much all of your games in the state of California year in and year out, what's the best and worst part about that?
SJ: It's definitely great to limit unnecessary travel so we can focus on excelling in academics. However, we miss out on facing lacrosse talent across the country until the end of the season.
CL: The best part about playing in California all year is that it never gets too cold. We rarely even have to practice in sweats, where other teams have to deal with snow pretty regularly, I’d say. I don’t know if there are any cons, I would much rather stay closer to the west coast than have to travel across the country.
MS: California is a big place. Traveling is exhausting. I think we get to experience the fun parts of traveling with the team but also don't have to waste too much time being on the road every weekend. I do wish we had a chance to play against some teams from the east coast though. It’s always an interesting challenge.
JC: The weather here is pretty nice, and all the schools we play at are pretty nice. Not much to complain about really.
SU: Best part: we are in California. Most of the cities we play in are beautiful so it's not a drag to travel because it's not like we are playing in some isolated town with terrible weather. Worse part: I do wish we could've check out some other beautiful states while I was here.
ND: It’s great playing in California because you don’t have those freezing February and March games that you get in other places around the country. Although, it would be cool if we got to travel a little more to places outside of the state.
DF: Better MCLA tournament venue: Irvine, Calif./Chapman or Salt Lake City?
SJ: Salt Lake City is more exciting to me because we already play in SoCal every year.
CL: Orange County is 100 times better
MS: Chapman has the best field. I may be biased being a San Diego native, but Orange County is better than Salt Lake.
JC: Chapman. However, Salt Lake City is growing on me. Hopefully I can take another look during the national tournament this year.
SU: I missed Salt Lake last year unfortunately, but my gut tells me it's the best answer. Since Chapman is such perennially great team, I think it's pretty unfair that the 'ship was on their home turf.
ND: I preferred the tournament in SoCal. The dry mountain air in Salt Lake City was very noticeable when playing.
DF: I wear my jersey number because:
SJ: 36 was originally chosen for me, but I have grown to identify with the number, and definitely cherish it now.
CL: I started wearing 6 as a kid because my birthday is on October 6. I figured it would fit well. It’s nothing super special, but it stuck.
MS: I think I asked for 10 freshman year, but was given 30. My second year when I switched from goalie to LSM, I told Coach Web it was time to switch and now I wear 11 in honor of one of my role models who graduated the team after my freshman year: Kyle Todd. A true legend of Cal Lacrosse, he taught me and many others some important lessons about life on and off the field.
JC: I wear 4 in memory of Doug Scuitto, a former Cal Lacrosse captain who died trying to save his fraternity brothers from a fire. I am honored to wear No. 4, and hope to live up to not only the character traits it embodies but also the legacy of the man whom it represents.
SU: At first, I was just an ambitious rookie trying to get any single digit number I could because who wants a number like 39, you know? But after my rookie year, I had plans to change to No. 2 because that was my high school number. However, No. 1 became part of my identity on the Cal lacrosse team. My teammates literally refer to me as ‘uno.’ So, like my arm or leg, when it comes to Cal lacrosse the No. 1 is just extension of who I am, and I really love that.
ND: When I was a freshman in high school, I tried convincing an older guy to give up the 21 jersey that I wore growing up. He wouldn’t buy it, so I made the switch to 5.
DF: Which Premiere Lacrosse League team has the best logo and colors?
CL: The Redwoods, because - Go Bears! The best colors will go to Chrome, just because I’m assuming they’ll have silver chrome helmets.
MS: Either the Redwoods or the Chrome for best colors/logo. However, I'm a big Scotty Rodgers fan and their coaches are former MCLA guys so I may end up rooting for Atlas.
JC: Redwoods, I guess. No strong preferences here.
SU: I haven't checked out the PLL much, but if you are looking for a new team with fresh steez check out them San Diego Seals in the NLL! They're nice.
ND: Atlas LC. Don’t know much about the PLL, but the Atlas gear looks pretty cool and I've heard good things about the MCLA roots within the coaching staff.
DF: Which member of the team is most likely to make the biggest name for himself in the professional world?
SJ: Josh Chen has incredible work ethic and intelligence. His term as our team president was a strong testament to his professional ability.
CL: I think Nate DeGroat is likely to make the biggest name for himself in the professional world. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and he’s a great investor who is very money-driven. I can see him being a multi-millionaire in the future.
MS: If not me and Shay Urrea, then I would have to say former teammate Dylan Lee. He's already basically a celebrity.
JC: Nate. Easy.
SU: Nick Beattie. That man's work ethic is unmatched. I know whatever he gets into, people are going to talk about it.
ND: Tough question. There are lots of really smart kids on the team, but is it bad to say myself? I hope that one day I’m very successful in my career and looked at as an important figure in my industry.
CL: Not sure about a single player, but I think Cal Poly is the most formidable of our WCLL opponents. Last year was the first time since I’d been at Cal that we’ve beat them, and they always put up a great fight. The Mustangs always produce some great offensive weapons and it’s usually a close game.
MS: There is no man that we as a team are scared of, but I think the UCSB goalie Peter Brydon may be one of the best that I have seen though. The most dangerous man we will face will probably be our former defensive coordinator and current Stanford head coach Paul Jepsen. He knows us inside and out, and Stanford versus Cal matchups in any sport are always dogfights.
JC: I think A.J. Guralas at Poly has been the best WCLL player we've faced this season. Seems like the guy can score from anywhere.
SU: We don't focus too much on individual players, but Cal Poly is our most worthy opponent. That team is always playing with grit, and they really force it us to bring our A-game and effort every time we meet.
ND: We’ve played some good players over the years, but I feel like the player that has given us the most trouble has been the UCSB goalie. He always seems to show up playing Cal, and he saved many of shots back in my offensive days.
DF: What will you miss most about Cal when you receive your diploma and put a bow on your college lacrosse career?
SJ: First and foremost, I will miss the team and friendships that I have made. Also, I will miss the intense competitive spirit and discipline that is inherent to the Cal lacrosse program. It is something that is difficult to imitate after college.
CL: I think I’ll miss the competition the most when I’m done. It’s really a unique opportunity to go out and compete with 40 of your best friends every single day, and it’s something I’m going to miss a lot.
MS: I will definitely miss seeing all of my buddies and being able to compete with them day in and day out. This team is like a family to me. I hope to continue my lacrosse career post-graduation with Brian Rutherford and the boys of East Bay Lacrosse Club though!
JC: I'll miss playing lacrosse every day, and playing it with a great group of guys who are all bought in to our team goals. I'm really thankful that I have been able to experience something like this here. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
SU: Our weekend trips. I will always hold the bonding and the amount of lacrosse we get to play on those trips dear to me.
ND: I’m going to miss the daily competition both in practice and during games. It’s awesome competing with your teammates, working to achieve a common goal of winning.