If you looked at Wabash lacrosse’s record last year, you would expect the coaches and team to be disappointed in the season. After all, a 4-12 record and a negative 139 scoring differential tell the story of a season gone wrong. But if you ask Head Lacrosse Coach Chris Burke and his team, last year was the first step in building a competitive Little Giant lacrosse program.
To understand the team’s mindset, you must look to its past. Wabash lacrosse has never posted a winning record and Coach Burke is the fifth coach in eight seasons. And on top of the dramatic turnover in coaching staff, Wabash’s lacrosse roster has fewer names on it than almost any of the team’s competition.
“It’s very easy to look at the wins and losses and go ‘That was an unsuccessful season,’” said Burke. “But we had 20 guys when we’re playing [teams] with 50 guys on their roster. And I think we held our own pretty well. It’s really a statement and a testament to the guys that remained on the team. They helped us build a foundation that we feel like we can build on.”
When he arrived in July 2021, Burke committed to a long process of building a program from the bottom up, beginning by instituting a culture of hard work and physically building the roster to compete.
“Where we are talent-wise doesn’t matter,” said Burke. “We’re going to outwork you. And I think we did a really good job developing that culture and that mentality last year. We started to build on that in the fall and then added key pieces talent-wise.”
One of those key pieces of talent was redshirt freshman Quinn Fitzgerald ’26, a transfer from Division II Florida Institute of Technology. Fitzgerald should start at the attacking position for Wabash, and Burke thinks he has a chance to lead the Little Giants in scoring this year. Fitzgerald is a member of the first class of many that Burke hopes will cement Wabash as a main player on the Division III stage. And that’s exactly why Fitzgerald came to Wabash.
“This class is unlike any that the school has had before,” said Fitzgerald. “We bring a new level of talent and experience that will hopefully be the first steps toward making this program a reputable force in Division III. This year, we plan to put everyone on notice to the fact that this is a new era of Wabash lacrosse.”
Fitzgerald’s class is not alone in that mission, as the recruiting class of 2023 is already larger than last year’s, which at the time was the largest in Wabash lacrosse history. While the future of the lacrosse pro- gram is promising, the team has worked to contend this year.
“Neither this campus nor this conference take us seriously, and to be honest we haven’t given people much of a reason to historically.”Quinn Fitzgerald ’26
“We have put the work in and are looking forward to winning some games,” said Brigham McGill ’24. “Since my freshman year, we have only improved, and this is the year where it all comes to fruition.”
At the same time as they look to prove the NCAC wrong about its skill, the lacrosse team is looking forward to showing the Wabash community that it can get the job done and put on a show.
“Neither this campus nor this conference take us seriously, and to be honest we haven’t given people much of a reason to historically,” said Fitzgerald. “One of our goals for this season is to change that. I believe that we are all sick of being overlooked. At the same time, however, we have embraced an underdog mentality that will just make us more dangerous. I have no doubt that we are going to make some noise.
The Little Giants open their season at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15, hosting Anderson University at Fischer Field, where they hope to begin the 2023 campaign with a win against the Ravens. The team’s only request for the season is this: take them seriously.