St. Ambrose welcomes a new sport to its athletic department this school year. Lacrosse, which has been gaining popularity in the Midwest, has finally reached the Quad Cities and St. Ambrose University. The men’s lacrosse team will be led by former Missouri Baptist All-American Brad Keel. Coach Keel graduated from Missouri Baptist in 2011 and helped lead the Spartans to the national tournament.
Keel is not new to building lacrosse programs. He previously took over Seckman High School in Imperial, Mo. He took over a first year team that had just gone 0-12 and in year two turned them into a 6-6 team that placed fifth in the Missouri state tournament. Keel is charged this time with starting a whole new program from the ground up.
“It’s an honor to really set the standard for lacrosse at St. Ambrose and really help build the reputation,” Keel said.
Unlike in high school or club coaching he will have to recruit and compete with much larger and more established programs. Currently there are 16 freshmen on the roster pooled with some upperclassmen. Many of the upperclassmen played in high school and play other sports at Ambrose. Keel is depending on some of the upperclassmen to provide good leadership and set the standard for the underclassmen.
“One thing I’ve had to overcome is the fact that there is no local lacrosse, and most of the places we have to go recruit from are over two hours away,” Keel said. “What does help us is that we are a fully funded varsity program with great facilities. We have a full time coaching staff as well as the Ambrose Dome, which are very appealing.”
None of these challenges have deterred Keel from setting high goals for his team this year. Even though it is the team’s first year and they are young, he hopes to qualify for the conference tournament. With twelve teams in the conference, only six move on to the conference tournament. Keel hopes to be one of those six. This will be no easy task as Ambrose will be a member of the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference. The conference is always competitive and contains many good teams like DePaul, who went to the national tournament last year.
Keel also stressed that the team needs support. They will play all home games at the Davenport Sports Complex. Both their fall preseason and spring season schedules will be posted online.
Keel encourages all fans, especially new ones, to come out and give lacrosse a try.
“Lacrosse is a mixture of hockey, basketball and soccer,” Keel said. “We use the physicality of hockey, the conditioning and cardio of soccer, but the transition principles of basketball.”
Come out and support the St. Ambrose Fighting Bees lacrosse team as they look to have a very successful first year.