Men’s lacrosse club prepares for Donnie Tillar Memorial Classic

Anders Blonquist, senior in psychology, shoots balls into the goal before a K-State lacrosse practice on Oct. 17, 2016, at Memorial Stadium. (Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

The Kansas State men’s lacrosse club has started gearing up for another season of competitive games that will start up in the spring.

Riley Curran, junior in political science and president of the club, said the team competes in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association, which holds Division I and Division II schools that do not have NCAA programs.

“The competition (in the MCLA) is there but it’s not to the same extent as the NCAA,” Curran said. “Our league, however, is fairly competitive and I believe the competition level is high especially against teams like Missouri and Nebraska.”

Growing up in Kansas City, Curran said he knew lacrosse was not a popular sport, yet he started playing his freshman year of high school.

“There was a club in Olathe, where I’m from,” Curran said. “My cousin played at Davenport University and he got me into it. I’ve been playing for about seven years now.”

On the other hand, Anders Blomquist, senior in psychology and secretary of the lacrosse club, said lacrosse is a well-known sport where he grew up.

“I’m from Colorado so I grew up playing it; it’s pretty big out there,” Blomquist said. “I played in high school and found out there was a club team at K-State when I came here.”

Sean Morris, senior in criminology and social chair of the lacrosse club, said he also started playing lacrosse at a very early age.

“I’m originally from New Jersey, so I started playing lacrosse when I was in fourth grade,” Morris said. “I moved out to Colorado about eight years ago and kept playing there, and then I came here.”

All three players said the skills and physicality required to play the sport can often keep players from excelling.

“There’s a lot of hand-eye coordination that goes into it,” Blomquist said. “That is what can hinder people from getting better. It’s just something you have to work at.”

Curran said the hardest parts about lacrosse is having to put in the extra time to get better at skills you struggle at and maintaining the physical shape you have to be in.

“Catching a pass is only one aspect of the game; you have to put in extra time,” Curran said. “Also having to stay in shape because of the running up and down the field can take it out of you.”

Morris said knowing how to run the offense and defense is a hard skill to pick up.

“You need to know different slides and different rotations,” Morris said. “You also need to know where to get the ball to, especially if somebody is hot.”

Outside of competing, Blomquist said the club does many types of fundraising such as stadium cleanups, T-shirt fundraisers and online stores with lacrosse merchandise.

Blomquist also said the club raised enough money a few years ago to bring the Donnie Tillar Memorial Classic back, a tournament the club puts on each fall in honor of the late Donnie Tillar, who served as the club’s first head coach.

Blomquist said there is a unique sense of brotherhood that goes along with the team, and it has highly impacted him while he’s been at K-State.

“When I first came here, I didn’t really know anyone at all,” Blomquist said. “Lacrosse was definitely a great way to meet a lot of friends, and we’ve definitely made some pretty good friends from it.”

With already being from Kansas, Curran said he knew a lot of people who were already attending K-State, but the lacrosse club gave him the opportunity to meet new people and become a part of a new brotherhood, one of the most important aspects of the club to him.

“The chemistry is huge on the team,” Curran said. “I didn’t know all these guys before and now I have a whole new group of friends that I didn’t have in high school.”

Morris’ first time in the state of Kansas was during orientation, and he said he was very unsure what to expect coming to K-State. After sitting down with the president of the lacrosse club and going to a team practice, Morris said he quickly fell in love with the lacrosse program.

“I had a great bonding time with the guys,” Morris said. “It still continues on and it was a great experience for me and I know it is for a lot of other people as well.”

The club will play Oct. 29 when they host the Donnie Tillar Memorial Classic, where the team will face Nebraska and Arkansas. The regular season begins in the spring.