By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/8/22
Marcus Quattlebaum believes the Lincoln University Men’s Lacrosse Club has exceeded all expectations in its first year of play.
Why? The answer is easy.
“I have never met a group of guys that has bonded so closely together in a short amount of time,” said Quattlebaum, the Club President. “We all play for each other, there is no selfishness. Our attitude, is, ‘We’re going to do this work together and find a solution.’ If we are down, we work together to pick each other’s heads up.”
Quattlebaum and the Lions will take their positive energy today to College Park, MD, where they will compete in the Final Four of the inaugural season of the Next Collegiate League, the first-ever HBCU (Historically Black College or University) lacrosse league.
Lincoln (5-5), the third seed, will meet top-seeded Delaware State in a 1 p.m. game at Kehoe Track at Ludwig Field in College Park, Maryland. No. 2 Morgan State meets No. 4 Bowie State in the second game of the Final Four at 2 p.m. with the winners meeting for the crown at 4 p.m. Games will be televised this week on cable (see below).
Cable TV Schedule
Semi Final Tuesday at 8 pm Del State vs Lincoln
Semi Final 2 Tuesday at 8 pm Morgan State vs Bowie State
Consolation Game Thursday 8:00pm NCL Championship Thursday 9:00pm
Direct TV 623 – ATT Uverse 1665 – Verizon Fios 597
“We had a goal set in place earlier in the year to show the school, ‘Hey we’re good at lacrosse and to be honest we might be one of the best sports team on campus,'” said Quattlebaum, the Club President.
The NCL features six HBCUs: Lincoln, DelState, Bowie State, Maryland Eastern Shore, Coppin State and Morgan State University. What makes the league even more unique is its format.
The NCL has showcased the new Olympic-style lacrosse format, which is a faster-paced, 6v6 version of the sport. The discipline is called Olympic Style Lacrosse in hopes of being added to the 2028 Olympic Summer Games schedule in Los Angeles. The season began in April with the inaugural Crown Classic Tournament; each team played two games a day on Sunday, most at Kehoe Track at Ludwig Field. One set of games was played at the USA Lacrosse in Sparks, Md.
Quattlebaum, a Ridley grad who didn’t play scholastic lacrosse, taught himself the sport while growing up in Southwest Philadelphia. He convinced the Lincoln Athletic Department to honor a commitment that it made before the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the Lions didn’t have a coach until the first games began. That’s another unique story.
The NCL by founded by André Gudger, the Next Level Sports & Entertainment owner and CEO who owned the former Atlanta Blaze of Major League Lacrosse. Next Field Sports Director Liam Banks, Gudger’s coach at Atlanta and a former Syracuse and pro standout, is the league director and recruited the schools to enter the league.
Banks also has many Philly ties from his years directing LB3’s travel program and running clinics. He called on his high school friend, Mark Duncan, fellow Ward Melville grad and a former Lehigh standout who coached at Shipley School for 18 years, to serve as the Lincoln coach.
“Coaching is so much fun and so simple,” said Duncan, who explained that the 6v6 field is 75 yards long with standard 6×6 foot cages. “We run one defense and just a couple plays on offense. We let them play and the transition is important, like indoors.
“Only a few had played the sport before, but with 6-on-6 it’s built for athletes and most of our guys play football or basketball and are in shape. They know defense; they learn fast.”
Lincoln has 14 players on its team; only five had ever played the sport until this year and four had some field game experience. Their goalie, Oliver Lilly Jr., had never played the sport but Duncan said he’s been hailed as the top goalie in the league.
“He’s helped tremendously,” said Quattlebaum of Duncan, who also coaches with TeamTen and has run summer skills camps for boys and girls for over 20 years with GameBreaker. “He’s helped the guys gain a new found confidence in the way they play the sport. Coach Duncan gives good insights and helps us see things on the field we wouldn’t see by ourselves.”
Quattlebaum said the team’s first win over Maryland Eastern Shore proved they belonged. “That win was our first in school history and proved something to us,” he said. “Our biggest win was against Bowie. It was a redemption game. We lost to them the first time and came into the second game with two chips on our shoulder.
“Our main goal this weekend is to stay focused and play for that goal we set in place for each other.
Duncan, who won over 200 games and nine league championships in 18 years at Shipley, said the Lincoln players have picked up the game’s nuances quickly.
“The game is so fast, there’s only 4 faceoffs a game. It’s pure run-and-gun,” Duncan said. “They hit hard and the refs let them play.
“There is a lot of emotion and the kids have a lot of pride. This week they had finals and had to move out of the dorms and school is over, but we’re still playing and everyone is proud and positive.”
Gudger’s goal in creating the league was to provide more opportunity for minority student-athletes to play the sport. The league also has connected with major sponsors such as Eccalon, Fast Stats, NLSE, Meta, Cascade Lacrosse, and Maverik Lacrosse.
“The Next Collegiate League will innovate and elevate the sport of lacrosse to make it more prominent and more accessible on campuses, especially for Communities of Color, and throughout the country,” said Gudger in a statement. “We are providing a platform for Olympic-style lacrosse for students from Historically Black Colleges & Universities that has global reach, and it will give athletes an opportunity to rapidly expand the sport and compete at all levels.”
Added Duncan: “They are talking about expanding it to the Falk. We want to see it grow. The games are so much fun, they are high-paced and the kids go on and off like at a Wings game. The kids have been great. They are fearless, and they are quick as lightning.”
Banks credited Gudger for having a vision to expand the sport by opening it to all student-athletes. He said Next Sports has created a system to fund the league for 5 years and make a path for huge growth to help lead a path to the 2028 Olympics.
“Andre has been granted the opportunity to own a sports cable network and with that comes great responsibility,” said Banks. “With everything going on in the country, he wants to tell the stories of the untold.
“My job is to make the impossible possible every day, while making impactful change. Money has been pledged to this non-traditional, diverse market and the challenge in front of me is investing in historically back colleges and universities and build out a system where one day it can be self sufficient.”
Tags: Lincoln University