LAX Sets Goals On and Off the Field
Men's Lacrosse Team Leads Violence Awareness Effort
Bill Mason hit a lot of milestones in his first (2016) season at the helm of Lasell's Men's Lacrosse team. The youngest head coach in the GNAC (Great Northeast Athletic Conference), he took the LAX Lasers to the GNAC finals for the first time since 2011 (finishing in second place), tied the program wins record with 12, placed six players on the prestigious All-GNAC teams and took special pride in Senior Captain Mike Pino's being named Lasell Male Athlete of the Year.
Even with all of that on-field success, Mason is especially gratified by the progress his players made in an off-field endeavor with lasting ties to the sport of lacrosse: sexual violence training.
"As athletes and as people, it is imperative to understand the effects of unhealthy relationships," Mason says. "My mission is to create not only great lacrosse players but to shape them to be respectful and compassionate men."
And shape them he has.
The effort was sparked by an essay Pino '16 wrote for a class with Assistant Professor of Legal Studies Karin Raye. The topic? "Raising Awareness of Sexual Violence on College Campuses and in the Community." Pino's passion for the subject prompted Professor Raye to reach out to Coach Mason in hopes of forging a collaboration.
"I was eager to help nurture an environment that speaks to these issues," Mason tells Leaves, "using our Lacrosse program as a backdrop to raise awareness and prevent relationship violence."
One highlight of the collaboration was a LAX team training and screening of the film Escalation, part of a workshop created by the One Love Foundation, an organization whose mission is to raise awareness. "Escalation does a great job of portraying the impact of unhealthy relationships," Mason says, "and after screening the film, we created a supportive environment where players could discuss their feelings openly."
The One Love Foundation was created following the death of University of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love, who was killed in a domestic violence incident in her senior year.
Mason feels strongly that the impact of this work does not end in the classroom and that it also resonates with other student-athletes "as they ponder their personal and professional futures."
The College's commitment to sexual and domestic violence education extends well beyond the Athletic department to various administrative offices, Lasell Village and the Counseling and Spiritual Life Centers, resulting in creative collaborations both on campus and beyond.
On the playing field, Mason hopes to make an impact, as well.
A Southborough, MA native and Western New England University alum and lacrosse player, Mason came to Lasell from Bates College, where he was assistant coach and defensive coordinator for men's lacrosse-a tenure that prepared him well for his current Lasell post.
"All of those experiences have been the foundation that has shaped me to be the coach I am today," Mason says.
In addition to mentoring his Lasell players, the energetic D3 coach oversees a roster of admimistrative responsibilities, intramural play and team recruiting, spending much of the off-season on the road, traveling "from high school games to summer camps and tournaments looking for future Lasers."
Going forward, Mason has deep support in the person of former Lasell Lacrosse Captain Jake LaMorte '13, who joined him as assistant coach for the team earlier this year. LaMorte tells Leaves he feels "lucky to continue being around a sport that has brought me great memories at a school I care very much about."
As for the upcoming LAX season, Mason is eager to see it start. "It can't get here soon enough," he says. "We have some very exciting recruits coming in who'll join an already talented group. And, we've strengthened our schedule with the addition of the Coast Guard Academy and New Jersey's Kean University."
"My philosophy is built on the principles of self-discipline, competitiveness and respect," Mason concludes. "At the end of the day, this is a game, and my players should be having fun-remembering that student-athletes are role models for the entire campus, privileged to be part of a collegiate sport."