Just with the lacrosse talent coursing through the Boulder campus alone, Colorado will always be a formidable program in the MCLA. The challenge for any Buffs coach is a.) harnessing that talent with a disciplined approach, and b.) placating an autocratic club sports department. Galvin has a track record of doing both, so he’s obviously the right man for the position.
Using the conventional metric for determining the stability of a program – postseason appearances – Colorado has been a team on solid footing. The Buffaloes have punched their ticket to the MCLA championship tourney in each of the last two seasons, advancing as far as the quarterfinals in 2010. Peeling back the curtain, however, reveals that CU has been in turmoil since John Galvin, who guided the program to its best performances, resigned as the head coach at the conclusion of the ’09 season.
It started in ’10, when the Buffs ousted Pete Stevenson midway through the season, and it continued at the end of last spring when Mike Ryder – Stevenson’s replacement – was dumped, as well. While the reasons for those coaches’ ouster are reportedly different, the lack of continuity gave the impression that Colorado was in disarray.
Now Galvin is back at the helm, re-hired this summer to right a ship that has been to a national championship game in ’06 and to the semifinals in ’09. With all of the tumult of the recent past, Galvin’s top priority will be to get his players believing that the coaching musical chairs is over.
“There’s definitely a trust issue,” admitted Galvin. “The trust will come when we’re doing something right and the players can see it. Do these guys feel kind of jaded about it? I’m sure they have some hesitations about what they are working for. But the longer we work together, I think they’ll get it. We’re working hard to make sure that these guys understand that it takes hard work to be a top team in this league.”
– Fall Ball Priority: Part of the trust component will be for the coaches and players to familiarize themselves with each other. The seniors on this year’s team were freshmen during Galvin’s last season and the acclimation process has been helped by that relationship. The sophomore and junior classes, however, will be the ones who will face the growing pains. Galvin admitted that he’s already lost a handful of returnees after the first meeting when he laid out his philosophy.
Once the introductory period was complete this fall, the next goal was to start the painful transition to a new regime.
“The biggest hurdle the staff and I faced was getting them to buy into the system, and it was definitely something these guys weren’t used to,” said Galvin. “A lot of it is tempo; we’re practicing as fast as we can. Also, we want to instill some discipline and accountability. Not to say that it wasn’t there, but my style is a little bit different than what they had in the past. That’s the biggest thing. It’s more of a general picture than something in particular.”