Andy Shay reached the pinnacle of college lacrosse three years ago when he led Yale to its first NCAA championship.
The squad returned to the national championship game a year later, losing to Virginia, but it’s been quiet since then. COVID halted the 2020 season after just five games and wiped out a return to the field this past spring.
Shay joined hosts Jack Piatelli and Kyle Devitte on “New England Lacrosse Journal’s Chasing The Goal” podcast to talk about the challenges after two largely lost seasons, coaching two classes of freshmen, and the latest on NIL, among other topics.
The full podcast can be accessed below.
Kyle Devitte: What’s the difference between a Yale lacrosse player now and a Yale lacrosse player 10 years ago?
Andy Shay: I have every practice plan that I’ve ever had at Yale, and the practices we’ll have this fall, in 2021, will be almost exactly what they were in 2004 or whenever. I’d say 80 percent of the drills we do are consistent, the format is consistent, the things we do. What we expect from the guys is toughness and pace in practice, and all those things.
How is it different? Personality-wise, it’s not different at all. We’re probably a little bigger, a little faster and a little more skilled at this point. The goal was always to get guys who are more talented and more athletic than guys we currently have on our roster.
Jack Piatelli: Why is it more difficult to find those guys today vs. 10 years ago.
AS: I just think the aggregate talent that we have, the aggregate athleticism that we have … we’ve tried to supplant those (current) guys. The beauty of our team is that those guys understand that. When we recruit players, the guys on our roster know that that is the focus. They better work hard or they’re gonna get beat out in a couple years, and that chain will hopefully continue.
We’ll see after COVID what our roster looks like, but hopefully we’ll be right in line where we’ve been the last couple years.
JP: Going into this fall is going to be very interesting for all the Ivies. You’re basically going to have three freshman classes coming back. How are you going to manage that?
AS: I don’t know. I really don’t know. There have been years where we’ve had large freshman classes, and by large I mean 14 or so, and it’s a noticeable drag on practice. It’s slower and it’s quieter.
There are going to be 30-something freshmen out there. I think a big factor is going to be us relying on guys who got half a freshman year. We always say that after spring break’s over you’re not a freshman anymore. But we never got to spring break that year. But give those guys credit. Most, if not all, have stepped up with our interactions with Zoom and in the weight room. They really seem excited to be leaders.
KD: What are your thoughts on NIL (“Name, Image and Likeness”), and does Yale or the Ivy League have any blanket plans to address it before the upcoming season?
AS: I’ve been told we’re getting our policy as a league and an institution. You hear news every day about some big football program doing this or some kid signing. … I think an institution like ours, when they get their head around it and say, ‘This is something we need to worry about,’ somebody else does something that makes it a little more interesting. I’m not sure how this is going to affect our league or our school. I’m an old-school guy. I can’t wrap my head around what’s going to happen with the sport of lacrosse.