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.
This installment features Kennesaw State and its five seniors: Collin Wilcox, Gavin Mugge, Cooper Lyon, Ethan Bish and Connor McMeen.
Dave Franklin: What is the best part of the men's lacrosse program at Kennesaw State?
Collin Wilcox: The competitive culture fostered here has constantly grown and evolved to perform at an increasingly higher level. The hunger for success has been instilled in this program and continues to drive the team to higher levels.
Gavin Mugge: It would have to be the culture. Having a group of guys that know when it’s time to focus up and also when to have fun with the game has greatly benefitted this team.
Cooper Lyon: How young we are. We have a lot of underclassmen and a lot of juniors that are huge players for us so although we are having a lot of success this year, there will be no stopping the Owls next year.
Ethan Bish: The winning atmosphere within the team. It helps us have confidence in the game plan when some things aren’t going how we’d like.
DF: Does having a women's NCAA team and a stadium that is home to an MLL team help the status or perception of the men's lacrosse program within the community?
CW: There is strong support between the KSU lacrosse teams, MCLA or NCAA. It has helped us develop a strong community on campus and the two programs give each other some extended visibility to the student body.
GM: Definitely. People attending the MLL games and women’s NCAA games at our facilities and seeing how well everything is laid out, sparks a lot of interest from recruits who want to come play at the next level at KSU.
CL: The NCAA women’s team will come support us and we will do the same to them. We got to scrimmage the Blaze about two years ago which was really cool, but nothing really came of it.
EB: Unfortunately, the MLL team is moving to a new stadium in Atlanta, but having then for the past few years has definitely helped the growth of lacrosse within the Kennesaw area. The women’s lacrosse team is also very cool to have on campus because it gives us good lacrosse to follow. Both of our teams are pretty close, so supporting each other only makes it for a better environment.
CM: Absolutely, we also have some great high school and club programs around Kennesaw that help to form a great lacrosse community here.
DF: Is there anything different about the preparation or game day atmosphere when playing a D-I team like Georgia, Auburn or Clemson compared to D-II games?
CW: We want all the smoke, doesn't matter who.
GM: For me personally, no. I try to approach every game the same way by having fun and doing my best in order to help the team succeed.
CL: D-I games we go into really loose knowing it doesn’t really impact our season. D-II games we go into really focused and hungry wanting to prove everybody that we aren’t just a quarterfinal team anymore.
EB: The atmosphere isn’t much different when you play a D-I or D-II team. The only things we are focused on is coming in, doing our individual jobs and winning the game. Playing D-I teams is better later in the season in my mind so we can adjust our game and be stronger coming into the SELC tournament.
CM: Our coaching staff does a great job of preparing for us for all of our games. I don’t feel there is much of a difference while playing. I love seeing these other teams panic when they see the level we can play at.
DF: Falcons, Hawks or Braves?
CW: Los Bravos
GM: Falcons. The games have a great atmosphere.
CL: Option 4: Atlanta United of the MLS.
EB: Falcons for sure. Julio is the best wide receiver in the game right now.
DF: Swarm or Blaze?
GM: I'm going to have to go with the Swarm. Nothing beats the fast-paced action and high level of contact.
EB: Swarm, because I interned with them and had a blast. The game is much faster indoors.
CM: Blaze it up!
DF: Thashers: We love hockey and need them back - or - not interested in an NHL team in Georgia?
CW: Pittsburgh Penguins > everybody
GM: We should definitely have them back, I always had fun attending the games.
CL: I don’t think hockey’s coming back anytime soon...
EB: I played hockey for 8 years so it’s still hard to not have a team here, but if we’re being honest, there’s not enough support for a hockey team in Atlanta to be profitable. I would support if Atlanta tried again.
CM: Bring back the Thrashers!
DF: Which team do you look forward to playing most year in and year out?
CW: Whoever we meet in the MCLA D-II championship game. See you there!
GM: I’d have to say Minnesota-Duluth. Even though they’ve beaten us, it’s always good to see where you are at versus a team that does very well in the postseason each year and that is a championship contender.
CL: It used to be Reinhardt or SCAD until the MCLA got too hard for them and they had to go to NAIA. Now it’s got to be any team from the UMLC.
EB: The team I always look forward to playing is St. Thomas, because it’s a very good team that plays similar to us, so it brings out our best game. It felt good to get a win against them in Nashville, and would be another great game if we saw them at nationals.
CM: Minn.-Duluth. They have some great players, have a great coaching staff, and can play on both sides of the field.
DF: What is the toughest thing about Division II teams from the UMLC?
CW: We actually have limitations on how much we can practice at KSU so I see UMLC teams as programs that practice twice as much with half the talent.
GM: I’d have to say their style of play on defense and their hustle. A lot of the teams in the SELC and in the south generally don’t pressure the ball as much as the UMLC teams. Teams down south tend to allow the ball to be moved around more, whereas the teams in the UMLC like to get out and pressure the adjacent passes.
CL: Depth. They always seem to have incredible depth. They are always in shape and always sharp.
EB: The toughest part of playing the UMLC is the competitiveness of the conference. All of the teams have a lot of talent, and when you play good teams week after week, it only makes you better.
CM: They move the ball a lot better and with much greater accuracy.
DF: What is your best KSU lacrosse memory?
CW: It was incredible to see my team wreak absolute havoc during "Judgement Weekend", but the best is yet to come.
GM: Besides my first goal? It’d be winning the SELC Championship. Having been here for the full four years and being runner-up twice put a bad taste in my mouth, so I’m just happy I was able to help bring the first of many conference championships home.
CL: Winning the SELC after losing in the finals two years in a row.
EB: My favorite memory was the FGCU game in the 2018 SELC championship game. The team showed that we had another level of play within us coming back in the second half to win.
CM: Beating St. Thomas this year. It was awesome getting some pay-back after last year.
DF: What is your favorite BBQ spot near campus?
CW: You can never take an L at the Nest.
CL: The Nest!
EB: Best BBQ is hands down Big Shanty Smokehouse. It’s on Cherokee St. on the way to downtown Kennesaw.
CM: The Nest.