The Chico State men’s lacrosse team has a new coach and a new outlook for the 2010 season.
At the end of last season, the team decided they needed a change of direction and chose not to renew coach Paul Rocchio’s contract, said goalie and club President Austin Raab.
“We felt to be a better team we needed to have a new system,” Raab said.
After the team met with the club sports director to inform her they wanted a new coach, two players were elected to work with the hiring committee to get the word out, Raab said.
One of the players elected was midfielder Josh Roden.
After 11 applications and two phone interviews, Charlie Jackson was chosen as the new head coach, Roden said.
When Roden asked Jackson how long he would be in Chico, Jackson told him that this was his home now, Roden said.
Jackson, a San Diego native, graduated from Chico State in 2001 and is no stranger to the sport and has a coaching record of 83-36, according to the Northern California Lacrosse Forum.
He previously coached at Las Lomas High School in the Bay Area, where he turned the team around from a 3-16 losing team one season to a 14-4 winning record.
Jackson was also head coach of the USA West U-19 elite youth lacrosse club, according to the Web site.
During his playing days at Chico State, Jackson was team captain as well as club president. He competed internationally as a member of USA West and has also officiated over 400 games.
“I love him,” Raab said. “You can talk to him on a more personal level. He wants to do everything to make this team better.”
Joseph Zingali, in his final year as a midfielder, is also excited about the addition of the new coach.
“He’s accessible, a good player’s coach,” Zingali said.
This is good news considering Jackson’s recruiting aspirations. He is convinced prospective athletes will choose to come to Chico State over other schools.
There’s no reason for athletes to chose to other schools other than the lack of recruiting, Jackson said.
“If they visit Chico and Sonoma, they’re definitely going to come to Chico,” he said. “So we’re really going to focus on recruiting, in order to try to get us turned around here.”
One exciting freshman prospect is midfielder Dalton Stokes of Lake Forest, Jackson and Raab said.
After being asked if he’d be inclined to take on a leadership role, Stokes modestly responded that he and other members on the team would definitely be up to that challenge.
Grady Van Boxtel, Doug Palmer and Nick Terzolo are among other new players who will make a difference this year, Raab said.
With new personnel, new players and a new attitude, the team hopes to take first place in the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League.
“There’s no reason we can’t win this year,” Jackson said. “My goal is to win the WCLL.”
The team is already off to a good start by working to build camaraderie.
Two weekends ago, as part of their “hell week,” the team completed a 22-mile night-hike through the blustering rain.
“It was brutal, man,” Raab said. “Everything was wet. Our backpacks were completely soaked. The ponchos we rented from Adventure Outings, we were thinking those were going to keep us dry. No, those things got waterlogged and kept making us all wet.”
After a meeting in which they discussed the hike, they realized no one had complained and overall, things went really well.
“It was intended for us to go out as a team and come out the other side stronger and more confident in each other,” Zingali said.
The players think the hike served its purpose.
“It did what it was supposed to do,” Raab said.
Along with confidence, Raab also thinks they have something else to add to their mental climate.
“We need to make sure we stay positive all the time,” he said. “That’s one of our pitfalls. Sometimes we get down in a game and we just lose hope.”
If the team continues to stay positive, they are sure to have a good showing in the WCLL, Raab said.
Last season the Wildcats finished 8-7, for sixth place in the WCLL.
The Chico State team will face a challenging schedule this year, with only five home games out of 13 and seven of their opponents ranked in the top 23, according to the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League Web site.
During spring break they will be playing at San Diego State and Loyola Marymount University. They will also travel to Arizona State University.
The first home game of the season is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 13, against the University of Nevada, Reno at University Stadium.