On the latest episode of “New England Lacrosse Journal’s Chasing The Goal” podcast with Jack Piatelli and myself, Cornell head coach — and Cannons LC midfielder — Connor Buczek joined us to talk about a variety of topics.
From the challenges of being a young coach to the struggles of the pandemic, Buczek is candid and honest when it comes to his time as the lead man up in Ithaca, N.Y.
You can subscribe to the “Chasing the Goal” podcast on your podcast platform of choice. This week, there is a new sponsor, Streaker Sports. Streaker Sports has a unique selection of vintage collegiate lacrosse tees and shorts with new styles being added every month.
For a limited time, and only for “Chasing the Goal” listeners, use the code “CTG20” at checkout to get 20 percent sitewide at StreakerSports.com.
The full podcast can be accessed below. Editor’s note: Piatelli’s sons John and Brian play for Buczek at Cornell.
Jack Piatelli: You love Cornell. You were once quoted as saying, “Not only did I mature when I was at Cornell, but I grew up there.” Can you explain that quote to us?
Connor Buczek: I think as most of us are 17 or 18 years old when you walk in the door of a college, (and) those four years are so impactful. They should change you for the better. That means that you found the right spot. When I got to Cornell, it wasn’t all roses and rainbows for me. I got here and struggled. I struggled immensely — in the classroom, on the field, trying to catch up to the weight training program here there were a lot of hurdles for me. It was the first time that I had really been challenged like that.
Coming from a high school setting that was very competitive, I was one of the best athletes and one of the best students; I worked hard but I didn’t understand that level of commitment and buy-in. To struggle and get knocked down a few pegs, knowing that I had it in me — I made the USA U-19 team before I stepped onto campus at Cornell — and I missed the bus for the first few overnight trips. Those setbacks and those challenges really made me hit the reset button and reevaluate how I went about things.
Kyle Devitte: You’re in one of the dream positions of anyone that went to a school that they loved and had a chance to coach. As a young coach, you still have that attachment and you’re also applying your philosophies and influences — how have you dealt with the pressure of that?
CB: I think there is a lot of “pressure” in a job like this, but a lot of it is generated internally rather than externally. For me, this is a program that I care deeply about and that I’ve given a lot to over the years. It’s a place that has given me so much. So, the opportunity to pay that forward to the next generation of Cornell lacrosse players is about the coolest opportunity you can get.
To truly know that something that took care of you, that helped you grow up and mature — being able to do that takes a lot of the “pressure” out of it because I know that between myself, our staff, and our support staff, they’re some of the best people in the business.
JP: Coach, when you say to your players that you want to play “a brand of Cornell Lacrosse” and make us proud, what exactly do you mean by the “Cornell brand of lacrosse”?
CB: We talk about inputs at Cornell. We talk about attitude. We talk about focus. We talk about preparation. These are all the things that are under your control. That’s what we want to be dominant at. We want to be sure that our guys are playing as hard as any team has ever seen. I think we have had that reputation over the years. The really successful Cornell teams in the last 20 years — the last 50 years — are all teams that just kept coming at you. They were relentless off the ground, they did all the little things right. They didn’t self-inflict. For us, that is the goal every single day.