In Aug. 2016, Sam Ashton was named the fourth head coach for the University of Dallas men’s lacrosse team. Hailing from Maryland originally, he has been playing lacrosse his entire life, and the sport means a lot to him. Coaching a growing team in the South is definitely not without its challenges, but he is determined to bring the Crusaders to victory.
TF: How did you end up here in Dallas?
CA: I’m from Maryland and I played Division II at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina. They never had lacrosse before, so I was a part of the first team to play there. Then, from there I became an assistant coach at Lake Erie College in Cleveland, Ohio, which is also a Division II school. They had a very good program. And now I am down here. I’ve been all over. I just try to make lacrosse better wherever I go.
TF: Coming from Maryland, how much does lacrosse differ here in Dallas?
SA: I think it just starts with the youth lacrosse. Maryland has a lot of youth programs, so kids are starting earlier than here in Texas. Most high schools have it here now. We just need the sport to trickle down, so that we can build up those youth programs and have some really good players starting younger and younger.
TF: The lacrosse program is only six years old. How do you plan to build upon it and make it better?
SA: It just starts with more recruits. Getting more guys on campus, getting more guys to commit to the school and then come to play lacrosse as well. I would like to get some more Texas kids. Obviously there are only two NCAA schools for lacrosse in all of Texas, so pulling more Texas lacrosse players I think would be good to build onto the program as a whole.
TF: How much does your traveling affect your team?
SA: A lot. This year we are only flying one time, but I do know that last year they had to fly a few times. There are just not that many teams here in the South to play against.
TF: Recruiting for lacrosse is already difficult. How do you go about recruiting and what do you look for in a player?
SA: I go to a lot of Dallas tournaments trying to find new Texas recruits. I look for players that will come in and from the start make a difference. I would like for them to be able [to] see the field and what they should be doing right away. They need to have athletic ability, because I can teach them plays, but I cannot teach somebody to be fast or to continue to workout.
TF: How are you preparing for this upcoming season?
SA: I am just trying to motivate the guys. We are simulating different plays in practice to try and up the level of intensity to game level. We do a lot of film to help teach guys lacrosse IQ, so they can be prepared to read and react to plays in the games. With film, we also scout the other teams, trying to prepare the guys for their upcoming opponents.
The men’s lacrosse team will open their season Feb. 18 against Fontbonne University. Their first home game will be Saturday, Feb. 25 against Alma College (MI).