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Led by a lacrosse icon, Jacksonville aims to become ‘the lacrosse capital of the South’

first_img Published on April 10, 2018 at 10:59 pm Contact David: ddschnei@syr.edu To the citizens of Jacksonville, Florida, Duval means more than just the name of their county. Starting in the late-1990s, members of the town started chanting “Duuuval!,” as a symbol of pride for where they live. Through the popularization of social media, county natives preached their regional pride on Twitter with ‘#DTWD’, short for ‘Duval ‘Til We Die.’The pride that cycles through the county hasn’t always been apparent within the Jacksonville University men’s lacrosse program. But starting this year, the Dolphins have begun to embrace representing Duval through “Duval Hour.” The daily practice sessions are optional workouts on weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. — Jacksonville’s designated lunch period — where players come to D.B. Milne Field and play, whether it be for a casual toss-around or a legitimate workout. Typically, the team pulls 20 to 35 players to the sessions, separate from their practices later in the day.“When I got here, doing extra work was considered uncool,” JU head coach John Galloway said. “Duval County has a reputation of toughness and grit, and we want our team to embody that same identity.”The extra hour of daily practice has helped the players and coaches inspire themselves to create a legacy for Jacksonville (5-5, 3-1 Southern), which achieved its only winning season in its first eight years in 2013. Led by Galloway, a two-time All-American at Syracuse and current Dallas Rattlers goalkeeper, the Dolphins expect a bright future and aim to become “the lacrosse capital of the South.”“It starts with little things like Duval Hour,” Hunter Sells, a junior goalkeeper, said. “These things help you buy in. There’s constant talk about how we want to build up our program and build an identity, something it hasn’t had in the past.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textGoalkeeper Hunter Sells readies near the net. Courtesy of Jacksonville AthleticsBesides the 2013 season, the Dolphins had little to celebrate. Over the next three years, JU won just 11 games, causing the university to part ways with then-head coach Guy Van Arsdale, who led the program to its most successful season.But when Galloway was hired in June 2016, a fire was lit under the program. Due to JU being the only Division-I lacrosse program in Florida, Galloway said Jacksonville is “stealing the blueprint from Denver,” a program that thrives on finding players who want to represent the western United States. Similarly, the Dolphins search for players who want to represent lacrosse in Florida on its quest to be “the lacrosse capital of the south.”Galloway’s profile as an all-time great in college lacrosse and a professional goalkeeper with the Rattlers of Major League Lacrosse drew recruits to Duval County. Sells, a transfer from Johns Hopkins, admitted he wouldn’t have considered Jacksonville as a landing spot if not for Galloway.“I watched Syracuse play all the time when I was younger, and being a goalie, I watched Galloway,” Sells said. “He was someone I looked up to a lot. I probably wouldn’t have looked at Jacksonville if he wasn’t the coach, honestly.”Galloway and his coaching staff recruit a specific kind of player, he said. To play at Jacksonville, a player has to want to make a mark on the program, and be the first to help the team reach its goals. During Galloway’s career at Syracuse from 2007-11, the Orange “didn’t need him,” he said, because of SU’s perennial dominance. The situation at Jacksonville is the opposite, as the program is looking for recruits willing to accept the challenge of making lacrosse in Duval County relevant.Hunter Forbes, a senior face-off specialist, has been one of those players. Forbes ranks fifth in the NCAA in faceoff percentage (.690) and is one of six rostered players who was at Jacksonville prior to Galloway’s hiring. Forbes said Galloway has implemented a winning culture that the Dolphins hadn’t seen before.“He brought that attitude in that it isn’t ok to be mediocre,” Forbes said. “Playing for him is exciting, he makes practices fun, and he’s changed the culture to where we’re trash-talking each other in practice, competing every drill, scrapping. We want to win.”Jacksonville’s five wins this season are the most it has had since its eight-win season in 2013, and it still has three regular season games to go. While the Dolphins may be years away from its goal of regional dominance, Galloway has set the groundwork for a bright future for lacrosse in Duval County.“During the week when we’re grinding out there and our legs are tired, and we don’t want to do it,” Forbes said. “We think, ‘let’s be the first ones to do something with this program’.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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