COLUMBIA — In May of 2007, the Missouri men’s lacrosse team made national headlines when it decided not to renew the contract of openly gay head coach Kyle Hawkins. For months after, a small club team that received little media attention was at the forefront of a nationwide controversy.
In the summer of 2007, the lacrosse team hired Jared Diamond as its new head coach. Diamond, a former MU lacrosse player, said he hopes hard work will be the answer for the lacrosse team making a name for itself that is not so closely associated with the firing of Hawkins.
“We don’t want to get hung up on the past,” Diamond said. When asked what he or the team has been doing to move on from the Hawkins controversy, Diamonds answer was simple: “Absolutely nothing.”
Diamond and his wife moved to Columbia from St. Louis in May 2004 for a job in sales. Before the move, Diamond had spent a total of five years coaching lacrosse at Parkway Central High. He coached there two years, then came back to Columbia and played lacrosse at MU for two years and then returned to coaching at Parkway Central for three years. Though he was expecting to take a break from lacrosse after moving to Columbia in 2004, he was approached by Rock Bridge High School and took the job as the lacrosse coach for the 2005 season. He remained at Rock Bridge for the 2006 and 2007 seasons as well. It was not until the 2007 season was over that Diamond knew he wouldn’t be returning to coachthe Bruins.
Diamond was asked to coach the MU team last August. Diamond said that he wanted to coach at the collegiate level despite the controversy the team was enduring. Now, he hopes to move forward.
“The most important thing to me is watching the team grow,” Diamond said, “I want them to be better lacrosse players and better people.”
Diamond thinks that if those things can be accomplished, then the team will one day be in the national spotlight again, only this time, for its abilities on the field.
“MU lacrosse has been nationally ranked before,” Diamond said, “and I would like to see the team make it to the national tournament.”
Diamond believes that his players have the talent to be great.
“We have some tremendous athletes,” Diamond said, “The game is definitely a lot faster than when I was playing.”
By his efforts as a coach, Diamond is trying to make his athletes even better.
“He is very active in our practices,” said club president and team captain Andy Mackley. “This is his first college team, but the team responds to him well.”
Mackley said the team enjoys Diamond’s dedication, though sometimes practice might not be so fun.
It was below freezing Wednesday afternoon and men’s lacrosse team was about to start practice. The players shivered and moved quickly to put their helmets, gloves and chest pads on to provide a little more insulation from the cold. Diamond instructed the team to begin its warm up of short sprints and stretches. One player, already in his pads, approached Diamond with a slight limp. One of the player’s ankles was slightly swollen and with an assortment of bluish-green, purple and yellow bruising. The player informed his coach that he could still practice, but Diamond told him to just take it easy.
“They are a dedicated bunch of guys,” Diamond said and went into the midst of his players to prepare them for the next game.