State of Lacrosse Alumni Game

Louis Weigele

To the Editors:

Recently, my friend and former lacrosse teammate, Mike Hankes, OC ’74, wrote a letter expressing his concern regarding changes in the tradition of the alumni lacrosse game at Oberlin. As a former Oberlin player, coach and alumni lacrosse participant for almost 40 years, I would like to add my perspective to this discussion.

Lacrosse has been an intercollegiate sport at Oberlin for over 60 years. During that time, the team has been at times, excellent, at other times, not as excellent. Regardless of the competitiveness of the team, playing lacrosse at Oberlin was a special experience for many. The alumni lacrosse game provided an opportunity for former players to come to Oberlin, meet with friends, make some new friends, try to run around and have a good time. It provided a setting to meet current and former students, as well as maintain a connection with Oberlin. It has been a very unique experience. During this time, the sport of lacrosse collegiately has changed dramatically. Oberlin now competes against several nationally ranked teams each season. Several years ago, a number of alumni were so concerned about Oberlin’s ability to compete intercollegiately that we had extensive discussions with the administration regarding the need for an increased focus on upgrading the program in order to maintain it as a sport at Oberlin. Partially as a result of these discussions, the Athletics Department made a commitment to maintain the quality of the lacrosse program. This led to the hiring of Topher Grossman as the head coach two years ago. Topher came to Oberlin with both impeccable lacrosse credentials and an appreciation of quality small-college lacrosse.

Coming to Oberlin last year, he coached an undermanned team that was very competitive throughout the season and was recognized by the North Coast Athletics Conference for his and the team’s accomplishments. This focus has increased the interest of student-athletes in attending Oberlin to play lacrosse. In order to do this, there needed to be a change in the alumni game. In order to accommodate postseason play, the alumni game tradition needed to “relocate.” As occurs with many changes, there are glitches and miscommunications.

Following the identification of concerns about changes and problems with communication, many e-mails and several phone conferences were held with Coach Grossman, Athletics Director William Roth and former lacrosse players. The result of these discussions has been what I believe to be a way to ensure the continuation of the tradition in a manner that supports the efforts of the college to continue to improve the quality of the lacrosse program for the student-athletes at Oberlin.

My concern, and the impetus for writing this letter, is that as the result of some very passionate discussion there may have been an impression that alumni do not support Coach Grossman and the efforts of the College to continue to make playing lacrosse at Oberlin the great experience it has been for so many of us. Having been active in these discussions, what has been clear is the desire of all members of the Oberlin lacrosse community to support the team, Coach Grossman and the administration in their efforts to continue the great experience of lacrosse at Oberlin.

–Louis Weigele,
OC ’73