Esports and lacrosse teams continue without coaches

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AU Athletics

The AU women’s lacrosse team gathers for team chant.

Sean Repuyan, AU-TV 20 NEWS TALENT

This spring, both the esports team and the women’s lacrosse team at Ashland University will be continuing their seasons without a head coach.

Joshua Buchanan, the current Esports head coach, will be leaving his team in early February to start a new position as Director of Esports at Alvernia University where he will be closer to his family.

Under Buchanan’s tutelage, Ashland’s Esports team has seen many achievements. The team has been recognized nationally, with the CSGO Division ranking at number two in the nation and the Fortnite Trio finishing ninth at the PlayVS playoffs in Dec. 2020.

“I believe that the team will do very well,” Buchanan said about this upcoming season. “I have truly learned more from them than they have from me. I hope I’ve made it to be in as good a spot as it can be in whenever I leave.”

Buchanan said he is grateful to be able to start his career at the collegiate level and is excited for the opportunity to start a new program at Alvernia and build up something once more like he has done with Ashland.

“Universities are starting to see the value in how interdisciplinary it is,” Buchanan said. “There are so many ways that you can go plugged in.”

Matthew Long, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (SSBU) team captain, said this season the team will primarily be focused on self-improvement. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the biggest issue the SSBU team faces is with online connectivity.

“At the end of the day, focus should be on improving ourselves, developing skills, learning new things and communicating,” Long said. “For a new coach, I am looking for the same qualities as Josh; great communication skills, selflessness, a passion for the time, and trust. Being able to leave like he is with full confidence is tremendous on the team’s behalf.”

Buchanan said that many qualified candidates have applied for his position and with the hiring process started, a new head coach will take his place soon.

The Women’s Lacrosse team, however, has been without a coach since Nov. 2020 and the team has not had official practices since then. During this time, the team experienced a lack of communication from the head coach and later received a message from Athletic Director Al King saying the head coach had resigned.

“We’re all in the dark,” graduate student, Jillian Ryan said. “I know that some girls have had issues with the coach since the beginning, and although you’re always gonna have issues with your coach, it has been kind of a mess.”

Ryan said the team has had meetings and many seniors and upperclassmen have been taking control in order to have some practices for the upcoming season. However, the team is unsure if it is even possible to play, hoping that parents could possibly step in to be interim coaches.

“I think that we will just have to see where it goes,” Ryan said. “Since we don’t know everything that we should, it makes it hard to move forward.”

Although this situation has divided the team in terms of understanding, Ryan believes that “as much as it should tear us apart, it has actually brought us together, since it’s all up to us.”

The team has come together to have each other’s backs, since many members feel they have already lost so much. For Ryan, in a way, this experience has made her want to play more.

“It’s just made me realize how much I have a passion for and invested into it [lacrosse], until I don’t have it anymore.” Ryan said. “With everything that happened, I want to make sure that the new coach knows what he or she is doing.”

During his time, the previous coach dismantled captains within the lacrosse team.

“I don’t let captainship voice how I view myself on the team,” Ryan said when talking about her role. “I will still speak up. But I don’t want to be counted out. We’re coming back and we deserve a good season,” said Ryan.