Pre-game Quotes: Coach Paul Prior to the Season Opener vs. Detroit

Feb. 10, 2012

It's finally here -- the first varsity game in University of Michigan men's lacrosse history. The first varsity practice came in September, then the first fall scrimmages and most recently the first spring scrimmage. But starting this Sunday (Feb. 12), the goals count, as do the wins and losses when the Wolverines oppose Detroit Mercy. Head coach John Paul and the rest of Team One are excited for the tests that Division I lacrosse will present over the next three months. Coach Paul spent a few minutes with to discuss the outlook for the season. How is the team prepared for what will be an exciting, yet challenging first season?

John Paul: We've set our team mission, and it's very clear. Our mission here is to build an elite Division I culture. The coaching staff is all on board with that 100 percent, the players understand that's our mission and have accepted that as our mission. Are we there yet? No. The key words there are 'build' and 'elite,' and 'build' implies that we're not there yet and we need to build it and that's what we're doing every day. 'Elite' implies that we don't just want to be a run-of-the-mill program, we want to have an elite culture. And if we're going to be successful as a program in the future, we're going to have to, by our terms of success, build that. And if we're going to measure success this year, it's pretty risky to do that strictly from wins and losses. We have to have a goal that we know is attainable and we know can help us moving forward and that's why this mission is so important.

MGB: How would you assess the physical readiness of the team for the season?

JP: The team is getting better every day in terms of skills. They are markedly better than they were in the fall, and that culture that we were talking about is building. They are learning new lessons on what it takes to be elite every day. Our leaders are learning those lessons, our younger guys are learning those lessons; hopefully they are sharing it with each other and we are getting there. We see guys that we grow up with everyday, but we are also holding them to very high standards so we're not satisfied. I don't think that every time they learn a lesson that they shouldn't be satisfied. This is going to be a process for us. We will look back in May and see if we got there or not.

MGB: As a young staff, how are you coming together to lead the team?

JP: All of this is a learning experience for the coaches as well, not only in working together, but also in understanding the resources here and how to utilize those and building some of the resources that will make us successful in the future. We are all a work in progress. We are all learning individually and as a group how to best utilize everybody's particular skills. But we are getting there, and that's the same thing. We hold ourselves to a pretty high standard, and I see improvement in how our staff is working together every day. I'm really happy with the staff we have, it is just maximizing everybody's skills and making sure that we are all working together. One of the best things we did was finally coming to a consensus that this mission of building an elite Division I culture is our mission, and once that became clear, and we made that our priority, it makes a lot of the decisions that we make on a day-to-day basis easier.

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