Laxcats start anew with coach Pedrick, fresh mentality

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Shane Bekian

Shane Bekian / The Daily Wildcat Nathan Vace, a business finance junior, practices with his potential future teammates during Wednesday’s tryouts.

Brittney Klewer

As the 2013-14 school year starts, Arizona men’s lacrosse is ushering in a new era with a new coach, New York native Derek Pedrick.

“I’m excited about being at a university that supports club sports and their student athletes,” Pedrick said. “I’m also excited that I have a big group of kids to choose from, and to really find … a legit team of kids that are really serious and want to be a part of it.”

Pedrick was hired as the Laxcats’ new coach after last year’s lacrosse team decided that changes needed to be made. Arizona parted ways with longtime head coach Mickey-Miles Felton, the founder of the current men’s lacrosse program, during the offseason.

“This team wanted to go into a more serious direction,” said junior attack Zach Johnson, the club’s vice president, “to have all the players be more serious and more committed to the program, and we definitely want to see more wins and hopefully go to a national tournament.”

Pedrick came to Tucson after serving as head coach of NCAA Division II squad Notre Dame de Namur. At NDNU, he led the Argonauts to a conference championship in 2011.

With four years of head coaching experience under his belt, Pedrick is trying to lead the Laxcats in a new direction.

“Lots of big changes [planned],” Pedrick said. “Just kind of try[ing] to change the culture to where it’s a little more serious, held to some higher standards on and off the field. Be held a little more accountable for our actions, and really trying to make the team the best possible team that they can be, because there’s a lot of talent here.”

Pedrick said that he coaches because he likes to help student athletes better themselves both on and off the field and expects his players to represent Arizona men’s lacrosse well. Likewise, Johnson expects Pedrick to push the Laxcats to their highest level of play and to “turn the program around into a respectable and efficient lacrosse team.”

When the Laxcats held tryouts last Tuesday, more than 70 students came out, including about 40 freshmen.

“I was very impressed with the attitude and the intensity and the talent,” Pedrick said. “There’s a lot of good freshmen too.”

In addition to Pedrick, the lacrosse coaching staff also includes UA alumnus and former Laxcat captain Christian Schaefer, whom both Pedrick and Johnson said they were excited to have on the team.

The Laxcats are aiming to get over the hump and back into the national tournament with the program makeover.

“I know a lot of the seniors felt like we could have been in the national tournament these past four years a few times, but [we] haven’t done it yet,” Johnson said. “So I really want to do it this year.”

As Pedrick gets settled into life in Arizona and begins the process of revamping Wildcat lacrosse culture, the future looks positive.

“We’ve got a lot of talent on this team,” Johnson said. “We’ve always been known as a very talented team, so hopefully this year we can mesh that together with good coaching and a lot of discipline and get some big wins.”

—Follow Brittney Klewer @BrittneyKlewer