Above: Sam Snow ’13
by John Torsiello
The Fairfield University men’s lacrosse program is heading into the rarified air of big time collegiate success.
The Stags have made enormous strides during the last few years, including a win over nationally third-ranked Notre Dame two years ago, and advancing to the ECAC Lacrosse League Championships game last year. The Stags upset second-seeded Loyola in the inaugural league tournament semifinal and then fell just short against host and NCAA final four participant Denver in the title game.
The Stags, who began their regular season in February, have lined up an impressive schedule of games for 2012 that includes visits from the University of Denver and Ohio State at the end of April, and a trip to the Air Force Academy on April 12. Fairfield should be one of the favorites to win this year’s ECAC Lacrosse League title.
Wins over big name schools and tournament appearances are one way to judge the emergence of a college sports program. Another is the school’s ability to go out and recruit top high school players from around the country. Head Coach Andy Copelan has been able to do just that in recent years.
“Division I lacrosse is as competitive as it’s ever been and recruiting is a coach’s lifeblood,” Copelan said. “In order for us to continue and move this program in a positive direction, it’s critical that we continue to to recruit nationally and even internationally.”
Eight states are represented on this year’s roster. Late in 2011, Copelan announced the signing of nine student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. Those youngsters hail from Maryland, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California, and Texas.
The head man believes he has a lot to offer when he walks into the living room of a young man’s home and sits down with the high school star and his parents for a chat on why the youngster should take his talents to Fairfield University.
Two players are symbolic of the increasingly national flavor of the team’s roster: Kevin Fritts ’13 from Dallas, Texas, and Sam Snow ’13 from Bainbridge, Washington.
Snow, a 6-foot, 3-inch attacker, has appeared in 28 games during his first two seasons, notching 55 points, including 28 goals. He was named All-ECAC both freshman and sophomore years and was named to the Dean’s List for the Spring 2011 semester. The business major was also considering Lehigh, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Ohio State before he settled on Fairfield.
“I really enjoyed my visit and thought that Fairfield would be a great fit. I have grown up around beaches so I loved the beach at Fairfield. I also knew that I wanted to be a business major and was very impressed with Fairfield’s Dolan School of Business,” said Snow. “There were just a lot of little things that felt right when I had to make my decision.”
Snow was able to leap from Washington state to New England quite easily.
“Lacrosse helped me adjust very quickly. Freshman year is easier when there are 45 teammates looking after you.”
Snow has been impressed with both the academics of Fairfield and the lacrosse/athletics program.
“I couldn’t be happier at Fairfield and am very pleased with my decision. I have made great friends at Fairfield and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Fritts is a junior attacker, whose sister, Lauren, graduated from Fairfield in 2004, and whose cousin, Jacquelin, is a 2010 graduate of the school. He’s being looked to be a vital part of this year’s team after seeing limited duty his first two years. He has appeared in 10 games during his Fairfield career, coming off the bench. He was considering Villanova as well as Fairfield.
“My sister attended Fairfield a few years back and when I came to visit her at Fairfield I liked it a lot. There are a great bunch of guys on this team. As for the program as a whole, everyone who is involved is focused on being successful and winning games, which is a plus.”
Both Fritts and Snow believe this could be “The Year” for the Stags.
“After the successful fall season that we had, I believe that it is very possible that we can make it to the NCAA tournament and also win an NCAA title,” said the Texan.
Both players would recommend Fairfield to any high school star contemplating a collegiate lacrosse and academic career.
Said Fritts, “Fairfield is a great school academically and also a great school to play lacrosse. Coach Copelan not only wants you to become a great player on the lacrosse field but is also willing to help you when you graduate to find a great job after college.”
Observed Snow, “The program has a lot of support from the University and its alumni. Being a Stag is something to be proud of and I highly recommend becoming a student at Fairfield if given the opportunity.”
Copelan has helped raise the bar for the sport at Fairfield. Named head coach in August 2008, he was an assistant with the high-profile University of Maryland program for three years and was the youngest Division I head coach when he was at Marist in 2004. He was named Metro Athletic Conference Coach of the Year, led the Red Foxes to a regular season MACC title and a first-ever NCAA tournament berth. He played lacrosse at Bucknell University.
The men’s lacrosse program has also been aided in no small way by The Friends of Fairfield University Athletics, which was launched over two years ago to provide a tangible and sustained collaboration between the University’s alumni, parents, fans, and current coaches and players on the school’s sports teams. The goal is to create a deep and rich connectivity between those involved or interested in Fairfield University athletics.
Copelan has his eyes on all corners of the globe for players who can take Fairfield to the top of collegiate men’s lacrosse.
“The Canadian market is loaded with talent and that’s an area we are interested in exploring a bit more. We certainly don’t restrict where we recruit from. We just try to make sure we are bringing in the right type of people who will represent Fairfield University positively and help keep a winning product on the field.”