Boys Lacrosse team transforms challenges into triumphs

By Megan Pariseau |

The Flagler College Men’s Lacrosse team hit their stride when former Florida State University coach Bill Harkins was assigned to the team.

Alex Steers, who has been the captain of the team since his freshman year, was excited when Harkins decided to coach the team. He had completed lacrosse camps with him in high school.

“I loved him right away and when he came here it was great. It was exactly what I wanted,” Steers said.

Harkins was able to take the team from a small group of guys who got together and played, to a team that traveled and had the ability to win.

With Harkins at the helm, the team won their first game of the season against Stetson University.

When he suffered a stroke, it was a blow to the team.

“We were devastated to hear the news because he had become such a big part of our team,” Ben Raley, a junior who has been with the team since the start, said.

The team struggled to keep it together after losing Harkins and contemplated giving up the rest of the season. The team lost their second coach when the school assigned Adrian Zapata to the post and promptly decided to go in a different direction.

That’s when team members Raley, Steers and Riley Venables stepped up as captains and started running their own practices, as well as coaching games while they were playing.

They haven’t been alone in journey. Wayne Riggs, associate professor of history, is one of the team’s biggest support systems. He also acts as its faculty advisor.

Riggs never once thought the team would call it quits.

“It’s about the commitment, it’s about being committed even when we’re not winning,” Riggs said. “They’re on the ground floor of building this legacy of lacrosse at Flagler College.”

Riggs considers himself more of a “general manager,” working behind the scenes and helping the team in any way he can.

Raley believes they are still a team due to Riggs.

Riggs and Steers believe the team can accomplish a lot in the near future.

Other than making the club a permanent installment in the athletics at Flagler, the team is also striving to get into the Men’s College Lacrosse Association.

“The MCLA is kind of the broader goal. That puts us on the map with any number of colleges in the southeast and nationally,” Riggs said.

Being a part of the MCLA would put the team at a different competitive level.

Steers, who will leave the team next month after graduating, said they’re still working to make Harkins proud.

“As a team we stuck together and while it is still not an easy road, we are working toward having a better team,” Raley said.

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