Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/13/16
From Press Release and Staff Report
So why Cal Lacrosse?
“I was at a fall recruiting event in New England in early-November,” says Nate DeGroat, a 2015 Wissahickon graduate and a rising sophomore at the University of California-Berkeley. “It was 37 degrees with freezing rain. The next weekend I went to visit Cal, and it was 70 and sunny.”
That was when DeGroat first realized what more and more East Coast natives, like fellow Pennsylvania native Dylan Lee (Garnet Valley), are realizing each year: there is a lifestyle upgrade available in the tree-covered hills of Berkeley for smart lacrosse players. It’s difficult to think of reasons not to enjoy the academic atmosphere at one of the top-rated public university in the world with postcard views of the San Francisco Bay while playing competitive lacrosse in the MCLA.
DeGroat and Lee stepped on to campus and immediately climbed the depth chart to become starters and eventually earn Co-Freshmen of the Year by the coaching staff. DeFroat had 13 goals and 20 assists and Lee had 18 goals and 12 assists.
The Golden Bears were once considered one of the top teams in the west. After a multi-year hiatus, they finished 10-7 and returned to the MCLA National Tournament in 2016 for the fourth time. With only three seniors having graduated and a strong recruiting class coming to Berkeley this fall, the Bears are primed to return to prominence in 2017.
“We had a great group of guys,” said DeGroat “For me the competitive level was perfect. It’s not D1 where you practice twice a day. But we practice every day and have games on the weekends. It’s the perfect fit between athletics and academics and I know for a fact that the MCLA is a lot more competitive than I expected.
“I didn’t realize that California lacrosse is as big as it is. Besides Denver and Air Force there are no D1 programs out West and a lot of kids in California don’t want to go East to play D1 or D3 so they stay in the club programs. It’s a lot of fun, plus you have 40 friends before school even starts!”
DeGroat plans to major in business administration once he gets into the business school at Cal. “The school offers tons of opportunities to do research or whatever you want. There is a lot of support (academically), especially for lacrosse players. This will set me on the right path for life after school.
“And definitely the weather in the winter is way better year. Year round it’s in the upper 60s and lower 70s. You can’t beat that. It’s not too hot and it’s great for lacrosse. Being in the Bay area there are tons of activities; within driving distance there are huge mountains and Lake Tahoe and the ocean with big cities like Oakland and San Francisco.”
Lee was originally headed to the Air Force Academy, but has found a home at Cal.
“We have a great group of guys and that made the transition to college so easy coming from the opposite side of the country,” said Lee, a member of the Jaguars’ Central League co-champs in 2015. “It’s a different culture and it’s been a great chance to meet new people.
“I have have family in Irvine (Orange County) so growing up every summer I was out here. Berkeley was one of my dream schools to go to.”
Lee said the lacrosse at Cal is comparable to a solid NCAA program.
“The team has a lot of young talent,” he said. “We got along so well; the chemistry was built in practice and we are always hanging out together. We pushed each other and there is great leadership.
“There is a stigma about club ball. I wasn’t sure how it would be, but we have a lot of kids that could have gone D1 but they don’t want to go out East.”
“I love players from Philly,” said Cal-Berkeley third year head men’s lacrosse coach, Ned Webster, who played at Boys’ Latin and the University of Notre Dame. “Generally speaking, they possess a really attractive mix of Baltimore savvy and Upstate New York toughness, and Nate and Dylan are no exception.
“The fact that two of our top offensive players were freshmen this year bodes well for the future of our program.”
“We know what a Division I program looks like,” said Webster. “We have all the benefits of a DI program- from an outstanding staff, to a Fall Ball season, a strength and conditioning program, film study, to playing in Memorial Stadium- but the big difference is we don’t monopolize our players’ time. Our primary focus is to be professional in our approach while being efficient with our time. I think we manage the balance pretty well.”
The Cal Men’s Lacrosse Alumni Society is the program’s alumni group which supports professional networking, aided by Berkeley’s close proximity to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, as well as internship and job placement for current players on the team. The Alumni Society is a big reason why the Cal Men’s Lacrosse team has had 100% job placement since its inception.
“Cal is not a four year decision, it’s a forty-plus year investment,” said Webster. “We will be successful in the classroom and on the field, but this experience is primarily about preparing our young men for the job and life of their dreams. Thankfully we have the people in place to make this happen.”
For more information on Cal Men’s Lacrosse, please visit bearslax.org.