Shooting from the Hip with the Fifth-Years
March 8, 2012
Fifth-year seniors Colin Briggs, Chris Clements, and Matt Lovejoy are greedy. Most athletes stay an extra year in hopes of getting a second chance. The Cavalier trio instead returns in hopes of winning a second NCAA championship. While the three arrive at their fifth year as a result of different circumstances-freshman redshirt or some kind of medical hardship-they find themselves in the same position as their Cavalier careers come to a close. Briggs, Clements, and Lovejoy recently sat down to discuss their lacrosse experience.
Question: What originally attracted you to U.Va., and what makes Virginia different from other lacrosse programs?
Briggs: Growing up, I always went to the Final Fours. My family would rent a RV and travel. I just remember growing up and watching U.Va. lacrosse. I had always dreamed of playing here, so when I had that opportunity, it was a dream come true.
Clements: I think it starts from the top-down here with the coaching staff. Coach Van Arsdale, Coach Starsia, Coach Walker-it’s top-notch. You sit in Coach Starsia’s office and talk to him, and you realize why he’s been around for so long. They have you at a time of your life when you’re still growing and they don’t restrict your growth. They foster your growth; they let you mature as a man.
Lovejoy: One of the things I’ve always liked about Virginia is just the style of play and the pace of play. It’s free flowing, very athletic, up and down the field, fast-paced. Everything we do puts pressure on the other team; you have to make plays.
Question: What do you think is the most difficult part of playing your position?
Briggs: With midfield in high school, it’s important to be able to play offense and defense. It gets more specialized in college. I think the transition to offensive middie is probably one of the more difficult things to do in lacrosse. The defenses are so much faster and there are so many different ways teams slide.
Clements: I’ve changed positions so much that I haven’t really been able to get comfortable with one position. Right now, I would say the toughest thing is just one-on-one defense, playing someone on an individual basis and keeping them in front of me and not letting them roll back and get the middle.
Lovejoy: With all the stick technology, it’s made it really hard for defensemen. It’s very hard to take the ball out of an attackman’s stick now. Essentially there are no takeaway defensemen anymore. You just have to play good positional defense because your job is really not to take it away; it’s to prevent them from scoring.
Question: If you could change any rule in college lacrosse, what would it be?
Briggs: If I were to change one rule, it would be to let the dive through the crease back in college lacrosse. There were some great players at U.Va., like Doug Knight, who made their career off that move.
Clements: I think sticks are ruining the game. You can check a guy many times and the ball won’t come out. I don’t know how you would go about changing sticks, but they need to come up with some way to make the ball come out of the stick easier.
Lovejoy: I don’t like when teams stall. They need to do something to keep the pace of the game up, which is one of the things I love about our team. We’re not really into that. We like to push the ball.
Question: If you had the chance to do anything when you graduate, what would you do?
Briggs: I guess I’d like to be able to move out to the West Coast and maybe find a job related to lacrosse. I’d like to teach kids who don’t have the opportunity East Coast kids have.
Clements: I’d like to work for the Baltimore Ravens. I don’t think that would be a possibility considering I have no experience in football, but I’m a huge fan so working in their front office would be fun.
Lovejoy: I’d to be coaching at the Division I level, helping run the defense. I’m very tight with my family and friends, so I would want to be close to them and somewhere on the East Coast.
Question: Now that you time at Virginia is drawing to a close, how would you like to be remembered by your teammates?
Briggs: As a competitor and two-way guy that was tough and brought it everyday in practice.
Clements: As Someone who worked hard everyday, brought a good energy, and just fostered a good team spirit and team camaraderie. Just a friendly guy who helped the younger kids as they got older because that’s what the older guys did for me.
Lovejoy: As a guy who worked hard, was always prepared, was ready to go, was doing the right thing and making the right choices, and was always putting the team in the best position to win.
Question: If a young lacrosse player came up to you and asked for one piece of advice, what would say to them?
Briggs: Find something you’re good at and just try to perfect that. There are so many different skills that are needed at schools like Virginia. Just finding your particular role or something you’re good at and then really working at it makes a difference.
Clements: It sounds like a simple and easy concept, but as Coach Starsia always says, you have to take care of the little things. People go for the flashiness and things like that, but if you can really get down to the basics and fundamentals, you’re going to go a lot farther than someone who is trying to rip an underhand at age ten.
Lovejoy: If you decide that it’s something you want to do, commit yourself to it and do everything you can to be the best player you can be. If you do that, you might not end up being a superstar, but you’ll know that you gave it your all and that you did everything possible to succeed and to maximize your potential.
Question: If you had the good fortune to win the national championship again this season, is there anything you would be sure to do that you didn’t do last year?
Briggs: I’d definitely try to remember immediately after the game. Looking back, I can’t remember just that moment right afterwards.
Clements: I didn’t jump in the dogpile last year. When you see the replay, everyone’s diving on top of [goalkeeper] Adam [Ghitelman] and I’m still running from the other side. If we went back and did it again, I would 100 percent just dive into that thing.
Lovejoy: Not really. To me, it’s not about the winning or the afterwards. It’s really about the beforehand. Looking back, the one thing I want to make sure I do this year is appreciate every moment. The best part about winning the national championship is everything that leads up to it. It’s of the journey.