Over the past two seasons, the men’s basketball team included only two senior players; of a roster of sixteen, the volleyball team had two seniors during the 2012 season. The women’s lacrosse team also experienced this trend of a young roster.
This pattern of young athletes raises questions about the experiences of the Division III athlete at Colorado College.
Having a roster of mainly underclassmen creates an atypical dynamic on the team.
“Having one senior forced the underclassmen to step up and take responsibility,” junior men’s basketball player Ryan Milne said. “The underclassmen fulfilled a larger role on the team. There was no group of seniors to show us the way, forcing us to hold each other accountable.”
Young rosters force the underclassmen to step up both on and off the field. While there are numerous advantages, the absence of veterans means a lack of experience for the young players to learn from.
“Naturally, younger players are nervous with lack of experience, but our freshmen have stepped up in a big way this season,” senior lacrosse player Abby Fink said. “I think young teams take a while to get momentum going. When it comes to leadership, that’s where experience comes in, and I think all of our seniors lead in a different way.”
Of course, there are pros and cons to the situation, but it is interesting to ask why these teams have such young rosters. While it varies from team to team, the wealth of opportunities on campus, the recruiting process, and competition from within the team contribute to the phenomenon.
Volleyball coach Rick Swan explained the situation with his team as the result of a large senior class during the 2011-2012 season. “We had five seniors last year, and the incoming recruits will look at that and see that they might have an opportunity to play during their freshmen season,” Said Swan.
The volleyball team carries a roster of sixteen players and holds tryouts every year, but a few players decide to stop playing.
“We have kids quit for a variety of reasons,” Swan said. “They come in and decide they don’t want the commitment and they are ready to try new things. Some may realize that their playing time might be limited and they want to move on.”
The women’s lacrosse team has had a similar experience.
“We have 10 freshmen, and I don’t expect to have 10 seniors in four years,” women’s lacrosse coach Susan Stuart said. “This is the way it always has been. Part of this is natural attrition. Some players aren’t happy with how they are playing or their role on the team, but there are also a million things to do at CC.”
A number of players decide to go abroad during their junior fall and come back to decide if they want to keep playing or not.
Former lacrosse player Hollis Moore spent her fall semester in India with a NOLS program. She had a very intense cultural experience, shifting her mentality in regards to her education and experience at CC. After two impactful seasons on the team, Moore decided to end her lacrosse career and pursue her other passions.
“I opened my eyes to many new perspectives because I was independent for the first time, and I gained a curiosity that I don’t think I had before going abroad,” Moore said.
Fink spoke about what it was like to have a substantial amount of her class decide to not play before her junior season.
“Obviously this comes as a shock at first, and you’re losing teammates who you love and are valuable to the team. But, in the end, you want people on the team who want to be there, and I admire them for realizing their commitment wasn’t 100 percent there,” she said.
Former men’s basketball player Zander Goepfert reflected on his experience on the team and reasons for deciding not to play as well.
“In looking back at the months before I made my final decision not to play, it was the camaraderie and brotherhood that made the decision not to play so hard,” he said. “When it came down to it, though, the time commitment and energy that is required for DIII basketball at CC was too much for me. Furthermore, at a school like CC where extracurriculars and clubs are so prevalent, I couldn’t help but feel that there were things that I was missing out on.”
While the rosters are seemingly young and sometimes absent of a senior class across the board (like the 2011 women’s lacrosse team), the teams have dealt with the adversity and found great success. The volleyball team dominated the SCAC, the men’s basketball team fell only in their conference championship, and the women’s lacrosse team has begun to gain momentum for a successful season.