Ken Clausen is a 2010 graduate from Virginia and the only three-time first-team All-American in UVA men’s lacrosse program history. The defenseman extraordinaire was the only defenseman among the 2010 Tewaaraton Trophy finalists and ended up being a first round draft pick in the 2010 MLL Draft by the Denver Outlaws. The Downingtown, Pa., native prepped at The Hill School before his time at UVA. Since graduation, Clausen has been living in Denver, Colo., working for Warrior Lacrosse and was just named the defensive coordinator of the Denver Outlaws for the 2020 season.
Q: Congratulations on your new coaching position with the Denver Outlaws. How have you been preparing for your gig as the defensive coordinator, especially under the current COVID-19 pandemic conditions?
Clausen: Thank you! I’m very excited for the season to start and have some big shoes to fill. I’m looking forward to the challenge. In terms of preparation for the season, I’ve been watching film from last season, speaking with the current coaches and players, and getting advice from former coaches such as Dom Starsia.
Q: You were drafted by the Denver Outlaws out of Virginia in 2010 and have been living in Denver ever since. Colorado is such a beautiful sate. What has the last 10 years been like and where are your favorite places to go in Colorado?
Clausen: It’s hard to believe that I was leaving Charlottesville a decade ago. Pretty wild. As you mentioned, I’ve been living in Denver since graduating from Virginia and can’t imagine the past 10 years anywhere else. The city is booming and the lacrosse scene has been exploding as well. Seeing a concert at Red Rocks is the place to be!
Q: You played on Memorial Day Weekend each of your final three seasons at Virginia. What are your favorite takeaways on playing on the biggest lacrosse stage and what emotions arose when you knew there wasn’t going to be any lacrosse on Memorial Day Weekend this year?
Clausen: It is really special playing on Memorial Day Weekend. The culmination of a long season and playing on the game’s biggest stage. I feel bad for all of the student-athletes unable to make this dream a reality.
Q: How closely did you follow UVA’s 2019 title run and which moments were your favorite as fan and alum?
Clausen: There’s no team I cheer for harder than UVA Men’s Lacrosse, so I was dialed in the entire season. The 2019 played so hard and always competed until the end of the game. Beating Duke in two overtimes to advance to the NCAA Championship was incredible. That brought back some memories (and not the best of them). I was so pumped to see the boys get it done!
Q: Have you been watching any of the lacrosse reruns on ESPNU or ACC Network to scratch your lacrosse itch?
Clausen: Here and there. If we won the game, most likely. I’ve been watching more film on graduating seniors in preparation for the MLL Draft more than the reruns on TV.
Q: You played on some epic UVA teams with tremendous offenses. Which former teammate was the most impressive offensive player you had to guard in practice?
Clausen: There were so many talented offensive players during my time that it’s hard to pick just one. With that being said, the one player I hated to cover more than anyone was Chris Bocklet. That guy would never stop moving off ball and it drove me insane. I’d much rather cover someone that needed the ball in his stick to make an impact.
Q: You had the opportunity to play for Hall of Fame head coach Dom Starsia. What are some of your favorite words of wisdom from him over the years that stuck?
Clausen: Coach Starsia was not only an incredible coach, but an amazing mentor and leader of men. We always ended practice with “we have a lot to be thankful for” and that has always stuck with me.
Q: Not only did you go to Denver to play in the MLL out of UVA, but you also started working with Warrior Lacrosse, the current equipment supplier of Virginia Men’s Lacrosse. How cool is it seeing two of your worlds collide?
Clausen: Love it! Having the opportunity to visit Charlottesville and meet with the coaches, players, and staff is an absolute highlight.
Q: Of the current UVA program, who is the most fun to watch? And since you graduate, any UVA offensive players that have come through the program you would have loved the challenge to guard?
Clausen: There’s a ton of studs on the current squad. During my visits to the team, I’ve been most impressed recently with their size. They have some monsters on defense and all over the field. Dox [Aitken] is an absolute beast and plays with an attitude. Big fan of that. [Jared] Conners is a weapon in transition with a rocket of a shot. I love seeing the poles get in on the action. [Ian] Laviano reminds me of Bocklet, so I’d hate covering that guy. [Michael] Kraus was so tough and a great leader. [Matt] Moore might be the best player in the country before his time is done. His ability to all over the field makes him so dangerous. Hard to pick just one. I’m glad they’re in the orange and blue.
Q: Klöckner Stadium is a beautiful place to take in a lacrosse game. What makes it so special?
Clausen: Klöckner is simply the best. When the hill is packed, standing room only, it’s incredible. The additional stadiums around Klöckner make the environment that much better!
Q: Who do you keep in contact the most from your UVA days? Has the recent pandemic created any zoom calls with former teammates?
Clausen: Fortunately, I keep up with a ton of the guys. Of course, I talk regularly with the players from our 2010 class, but I am also in touch with a ton of players from both earlier and later years. I love the UVA group and even though I may not get to see everyone in person as often as I’d like especially while I’m in Denver, Facetime and Zoom make that easier. When we get together, we haven’t missed a beat.
Q: While you were at Virginia you started Lacrosse Mustache Madness. In the past 10 years it has raised money for the HEADstrong Foundation. How excited has it been to see it grow and fulfil the mission you started? Any updates you have to share?
Clausen: Since our inception in 2009, Lacrosse Mustache Madness has raised over $1.5 million for the HEADstrong Foundation! We are so thankful for the support we have received from the lacrosse community. Our 12th Lax Stache Madness campaign begins October 19. As the date approaches, visit www.Headstrong.org for more information!
Q: Most memorable game at UVA?
Clausen: Quite a few memorable games, but the seven overtime win against Maryland may be at the top of home wins. That game was surreal and a total marathon. Seven overtimes?? C’mon Man!
Q: Transitioning, Have you been binge-watching any shows or movies, if so – what has been your favorite?
Clausen: The Last Dance was incredible. It was a lot of fun reliving that era of basketball and watching the team and players that, like so many others, had such a profound impact on my childhood.
Q: During the current pandemic have you gotten out into the beautiful Colorado countryside and if so, where have your go-to spots?
Clausen: We’ve been able to get out and go on some hikes around Denver. There are so many places within a short drive that you can’t go wrong whether it’s Boulder, Golden, down south or in the mountains. It doesn’t take too long to escape.
Q: What advice do you have for any young lacrosse player trying to make it to college, or in college trying to make it to the professional ranks?
Clausen: There is so much to learn in this game. Be a sponge and soak up all of the information you can. Ask questions. Learn different perspectives. Coaching is an excellent way to develop as a player. At the end of the day, bottom line, Play Hard and Have Fun!!!
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