Ian Ruder remembers a game, a few years back, in which his team was missing its goalie.
Temple’s men’s lacrosse club featured 10 players on its roster, but on this day, there were only nine. The athletes scrambled to find a replacement.
“Our goalie was busy that day, so we had to call a kid we actually cut who had played goalie in high school for one year,” Ruder said. “It was really our only option other than forfeiting.”
Ruder, now the club’s coach after a three-year stint as a player, could not leave his team behind after his graduation in 2013, and has seen the club’s growth from a 10-person roster to its current number of 36 during his time at Temple.
“When I was playing, we had one coach,” Ruder said. “You could instantly see the impact he had once the team was moving in a specific direction, but then he cut off contact with the president of the club. Once you graduate, there are not a lot of places to play lacrosse in this age, so I figured, ‘Hey, why not coach?’”
Ruder added he has knowledge to help the team improve. He said players help him learn from his mistakes, making him a better coach.
Coaching the expanding roster with Ruder is 2014 Rutgers graduate and lacrosse club member, Chris Berkelbach. While playing at Rutgers a year ago, his team beat Temple in a 10-5 contest.
“Our job is to have a structure for practice,” Ruder said. “If an officer comes up and says, ‘We need to work on something,’ we will change some stuff around because most of the time they are right.”
Laxpower.com’s computer rating ranks Temple at No. 10 out of 144 programs in the National College Lacrosse League, while the Owls’ rating percentage index mark ranks third among NCLL competition. Berkelbach and Ruder’s impact has shown through the team’s first two games, victories against Villanova and Shippensburg, respectively.
The team is organized and has young talent, both coaches said, but the club lacked structure even before Ruder’s time as a player.
Jacob Chulsung Kim saw a poster for club lacrosse tryouts in 1994. Currently an assistant professor in the Department of Religion at Temple, Kim thought joining the lacrosse team could be a chance to have fun and play competitively.
“I had one more year of eligibility after playing lacrosse for Dickinson College,” Kim said. “In a summer league I met some guys who played at Temple before, but apparently when they graduated, there was no one to run the team.”
Kim said while club lacrosse is more laid back than NCAA competition, the team still takes it very seriously.
“For us, it was just an opportunity to play, especially for a lot of the guys who played in high school,” Kim said. “You knew who really wanted to play and who just wanted to show up every once and awhile.”
Kim said for most away games, players used their own cars for transportation, a tradition that has not changed.
“Sometimes we have to get transportation to our away games,” senior club president and defender Julian Freedman said. “If not, we carpool and pay players back for gas.”
The club continues to see a swell in participation, and is looking toward the future hoping to make an impact.
“With 22 incoming freshmen, I am really excited to see where the potential of this team can go,” Freedman said.
The club is currently transitioning into becoming a more serious and competitive group, as tryout numbers have grown steadily from year to year. This past fall, 70 hopefuls turned up vying for a spot on the team.
“We wanted to keep a higher number this year because enthusiasm was up,” Freedman said. “You can play the game with 20 people, but it is hard to practice with 20 people. I think having more people at practice is improving our game.”
Connor Northrup can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.