A Quick Look At The NCLL

For those who don’t know, the National College Lacrosse League (NCLL) is a men’s collegiate lacrosse association with over 115 members in twelve conferences in fourteen states.

Administering the league is Executive Director Jamie McNealey, who has worked with the Chesapeake Bayhawks as the Director of Player Personnel and with Johns Hopkins, where he was a player and a coach. Jamie has taken the league to a higher level than what it was only a few short years ago after taking over for Scott Frederick.

Teams battle every year for the Frederick Cup. It was named after the NCLL’s founder Scott Frederick, who unfortunately passed away in December 2011. Mr. Frederick’s wasn’t about all the rule changes and was content on keeping the rules from the mid to late 1900’s. US Lacrosse Magazine quoted Scott saying, “We play our games, we play our championship, and we have our meetings. To hell with the rest of lacrosse.” He made meetings and games very interesting to say the least, while never having a dull moment.

Scott and Jamie worked side by side for a number of years to help grow the NCLL. It was created mainly to provide the opportunity for men to continue their lacrosse careers throughout college. Whether a part time or full time student, an elite player or just starting out, anyone can join or tryout for their schools club teams.

Schools are split into Division 1 and Division 2. There are schools that have NCAA teams that the clubs do get drop downs from while others have to form a team from who shows up. Some of the teams that are NCAA D1 play NCLL D2 and vice versa for NCAA D2/D3 teams playing NCLL D1.

That is a matter of how the teams perform on a regular basis. If they are killing D2 teams, then they are awarded the opportunity to move up to D1.

The league is broken down into twelve conferences. Out of those twelve conferences, there are 128 teams. Division 1 teams make up 29 of them, while division 2 has the other 99 teams.

In the Blue Ridge Conference, James Madison, Virginia and Duke make up division 1, while Lynchburg, Radford, Roanoke, Washington & Lee, VT-Blacksburg and VMI are in division 2.

Representing the Chesapeake Conference in division 1 is Delaware, Loyola, Maryland, 2012 Division 1 Champion Navy, Salisbury and Towson. For division 2 it is American, Baltimore, George Mason, Georgetown, George Washington, Howard, Johns Hopkins, Morgan State, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, UMBC and Washington College.

One of the newest conferences in the NCLL is the Deep South. The conference itself is only in its second year of existence and gives an insight as to how far lacrosse has grown. Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, Samford, Tennessee Tech and UT Chatanooga construct the Deep South Conference.

Empire East & Empire West are all teams from New York. Empire East has the only D1 teams out of the two. They are Albany, Cornell, Cortland and Syracuse. Division 2 East contains Binghamton, Clarkson, Hobart, Ithaca, Le Moyne, RPI, St. Lawrence, SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Oswego. Empire West involves Buffalo State, Canisius, Daemen, Fredonia, Niagra, RIT and St. Bonaventure.

Keystone Conference is mainly made up of Pennsylvania teams. It is the largest conference in the NCLL with 25 teams. Bucknell, Lehigh, Lafayette and Penn State are the four out of the 25 teams that are Division 1. 21 teams make up the Keystone Division 2 conference. Bloomsburg, Cal U of PA, Dickinson, East Stroudsburg, Franklin and Marshall, Indiana U of PA, Kutztown, Loch Haven, my alma mater Millersville, Moravian, Penn College, Pitt-Johnstown, PSU Altoona, PSU Behrend, PSU Berks, Robert Morris, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, Wilkes, York, and Frostburg, who is the only non-PA school in the conference, fabricate what is the Division 2 Keystone Conference.

Inter-state  conference Liberty holds host to PA and NJ teams Penn, Princeton, Rutgers, Villanova and West Chester for Division 1. Cabrini, Delaware Valley, Drexel, La Salle, Monmouth, Philadelphia U, Rider, Rowan, Rutgers – Camden, St. Joseph’s, The College of New Jersey and Williamson do battle in Division 2.

Alone atop the Midwest North division 1 is Ohio State. The Buckeyes inter mix with instate rivals Akron, Baldwin Wallace, Denison, Findlay, and Youngstown State who make up Ohio’s D2 teams. While Lawrence tech, Saginaw Valley and Wayne State represent the state of Michigan in the Midwest North.

2012’s Division 2 Champions Cincinnati resides in the Midwest South conference. Along with Eastern Kentucky, Louisville and Marshall. Identical to the Deep South Conference, the Midwest South does not have division 1 teams either.

Up North is the New England Conference. Fairfield, Sacred Heart and UMass Amherst brawl in Division 1. Tussling in division 2 is Connecticut College, Trinity and Yale.

Duking it out in the NY Metro D1 Conference is Fordham, Hofstra and Stony Brook. CCNY, Columbia, New Paltz, NYU, Seton Hall, and Stevens Institute of Technology box out each other to rise as the D2 Champions of the NY Metro conference.

Lastly, the Tidewater Conference. No division 1 teams for this congress. The state of Virginia dominates this conference with Christopher Newport, Hampton U, Mary Washington, Old Dominion, Longwood, Virginia Commonwealth and William & Mary.

Fourteen states are represented by the 128 teams. They include Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Growing rapidly, the NCLL keeps seeing teams get better every year. Last years surprise team, Rutgers, went undefeated all the way until the Final Four, where they lost to Salisbury. The year before, Rutgers went 15-3 and in 2010 obtained 4 wins and 6 losses.

Another two teams that have grown are St. Joseph’s (PA) and UMBC. I had the pleasure of seeing these two teams rumble in the championship game at the NCLL’s 22nd Annual Fall Brawl in College Park, Maryland. They’re no joke. The Retrievers took home the hardware in a 6-5 OT victory over the Hawks.

UMBC has finished one under .500 the past two years, but lost close games. With the way the team competed in the Fall Brawl, wouldn’t be surprised to see them go above .500 and possibly into the post-season.

St. Joseph’s ended 2012 with a 9-3 record, beating decent teams and coming close in games against very talented teams. The Hawks looked very good in College Park, and with a new crop of Freshmen, they’re only going to get better.

Teams are continuing to grow and are in the middle to the end of their fall ball. Playing games and hitting the wall, but that’s not what teams should only be working on. The fall is about working on team chemistry, conditioning, and players bettering themselves. Not only as a player, but as a person as well, to help them and the team.

Jamie McNealey continues to advance the NCLL, while club teams try to figure out whether they want to play in the NCLL or MCLA. One thing I can say for the NCLL is that, although not every team is completely formal with coaching staffs and what not, it gives the student athletes on the teams the ability to learn how to become a leader. Allowing the teams the rights to govern themselves and do what they think is right for their program.

The NCLL is branching out to more and more teams and is helping to cultivate the sport of lacrosse as fast as any other contributor.