“We’re trying to bring some old Chico back,” Chico State alumnus Jackson said.
With that comes a style of play and an attitude that has been missing in years past, midfielder Josh Roden said. Last year the team didn’t play terribly but there was a sense of underachievement.
The team wasn’t on the same page last year, but now there is enthusiasm and energy that had been missing at practices, Roden said.
With this newfound energy, the team has its goals set high, Jackson said. In two to three years Jackson wants a national championship berth and in three to five years he wants to win a national championship.
“Our goal for this year is just a playoff berth,” Roden said.
The top four teams from the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League make the playoffs. The league includes the likes of Chico State, Sonoma State, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Stanford and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Since lacrosse is a club sport and not a university-funded team it does not play in the California Collegiate Athletic Association like teams such as soccer, cross-country and basketball.
But there are some big schools in the league, Jackson said. Two Pac-10 conference schools make the division very competitive.
To stay competitive, the team will rely on upperclassmen such as senior goalkeeper and club President Austin Raab and Roden to help lead the team, as well as a large group of freshmen who are looking to contribute.
The sport of lacrosse has grown drastically in California and on the West Coast in general over the last 10 years, Jackson said.
“I remember when no high schools in the Bay Area had teams,” he said. “Now I have been able to coach all star teams at all age groups.”
With this increase in popularity, teams such as Chico State are able to get more talented players and compete and build the program.
Chico State has had a club lacrosse team since 1985, assistant coach DJ Ashby said. When the team originally consisted of 18 to 20 men and dues were about $150.
Today the team’s personnel reached nearly 40 players and dues near $2,000.
“You are able to do so much more with that kind of money, from traveling expenses to purchasing equipment,” Ashby said.
Throughout the season, the team will play each team in its league once as well as many out-of-league games including home games against Boise State and the University of Washington and road games against Colorado State, Arizona State and San Diego State.
Still far away from their first game of the season Feb. 13 against the University of Nevada Reno, the team has already started preparing by practicing three times a week.
They will start double days Jan. 11, which will give them a solid month of practice before the season opens.
While the team’s goal of making the playoffs isn’t out of reach, it’s going to take some hard work and dedication to regain that old Chico State style, Jackson said.