"Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts," Winston Churchill once famously said.
This was the quote uttered by Mississippi State University men's lacrosse team's starting midfielder Patrick Marcus when asked about his favorite memory as a part of the Bulldog lacrosse team. Marcus, a sophomore business administration major at East Mississippi Community College who will be returning to MSU next year, said every day at practice Head Coach and Shenandoah College lacrosse team alumnus Jake Gabriele has a quote of the day to define the team's goals for the practice, and on the very last practice of last fall semester, Head Coach Gabriele used his favorite to define the team's mission for that day. Little did they know, however, that quote would become a perfect metaphor for how this spring semester would turn out.
Due to the SEC not sponsoring men's lacrosse as an SEC sport, the men's team plays in the Deep South conference of the National College Lacrosse League (NCLL) against some of the best teams the Southeast has to offer. Last season, Coach Gabriele and his squad carried MSU to a very impressive win over opponent Southeast Louisiana University, and it has only gone up from there.
After a convincing win against conference opponent University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, the Bulldogs looked poised for a deep conference tournament run, where they would be but four games away from a national tournament bid in Annapolis, Maryland. It would have been the first in the program's history. As the whole world is aware by now, however, COVID-19 had other plans.
MSU's season would be canceled early, and the Bulldogs would be awarded the regular season championship, finishing 17th overall in the country. This was a bittersweet moment, however, as the whole team felt like their best games truly were ahead of them.
The squad optimistically held their heads high, though, all the way up until the arrival of this current semester. Before the first practice of the year, Coach Gabriele and his executive team would get the call. According to the university, their upcoming season would be canceled altogether.
When asked about the feelings and emotions he felt on that day, Coach Gabriele relayed what the team had been feeling.
"The two most prevalent were frustration and disappointment: disappointed in the fact that we weren't going to get to tackle some of those goals we had last year," Gabriele said. "For the guys, having prepared all fall for a conference championship and a national tournament run and having everybody excited to come back to campus ready to hit the ground running was pretty disappointing, to say the least."
Obviously, this would wear on any team, but starting attackman and sophomore wildlife conservation major Carter Schmitz said it was the warmth and acceptance of his teammates that made being a club lacrosse player special, and that is what helped him and his teammates most when they needed it.
Schmitz went on to speak about his personal favorite moment with the team and opted for a much more broad but just as sentimental approach.
"My favorite moment with the guys was the entire Knoxville trip," Schmitz said about the team's travels. "You can truly make yourself feel like more than a student."
As for playing for this highly competitive, ready-to-go club sport, the process is fairly simple and requires no previous lacrosse experience. Simply reach out to @missstatelax or @msstatelaxcoach on Instagram for more information on practice dates and times.