NCAA Div II Lacrosse: Colorado Mesa Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach A.J. Stevens Looks To Build “Respect” And A Competitive Program

“We have discussions with the kids about respect,” said A.J. Stevens, Colorado Mesa’s head coach. “We feel like we are the Rodney Dangerfield of Division II: no respect. Respect will only come with time, and it doesn’t come with one win, but winning on a regular basis.”

Colorado Mesa craves respect. Whether it’s in the name of the school – the university dropped the name Mesa State in favor of its current moniker – or the NCAA Division II lacrosse program, the Mavericks want people to know that there are serious things going on in Grand Junction, Colo.

Junior midfielder Kade Robinson, a former member of the Australian U-19 team and currently on the roster for the Aussie’s 2014 World Team, has seen the entire team buy into the mindset.

“We’re trying to establish a presence in the country as a whole and not just saying that little program out west anymore,” he said.

Most third-year programs are worried about depth issues and being mildly competitive. That’s not the case for Mesa.

With 100 kids in the program right now from 10 different states and two countries, the Mavs are deep and balanced. Stevens has used what he calls the “West Coast, Best Coast” mantra to fill his roster. Picking off the top players from the top preps in the West – along with several Australians – CMU has no trouble stacking every level of the field with talent.

“If we stay home and get the best kids here, we’ll build something special,” Stevens said.

Stevens also keeps an eye out for what he calls “snap-backs” – players from Colorado who tried their hand at Division I schools but were looking to get back close to home. These players are not only very talented, but provide a savvy group to an otherwise young roster that still doesn’t have any seniors.

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