June 12, 2014
Welcome to Campaign Q&A, a series of interviews with Siena community members integral to Living Our Tradition: The Campaign for Siena College. This week's interview subject is John Svec, Siena's men's lacrosse coach. Siena had an 11-6 overall record and won the MAAC Championship this past season. Svec was named Anaconda Sports MAAC Coach of the Year for the second time in three years.
Q: Siena men's lacrosse has had a lot of success over the past few years, what did it mean to get back on top with a MAAC Championship this season?
A: It was huge. The kids worked extremely hard. They've been close to winning a championship each of the last three years ... one-goal losses in the two previous years ... We needed to get better, and we did.
We won five one-goal games this year. That's a credit to the kids, finding a way to win those games. To be able to get back to the championship game and to win it was great. I'm so proud of the guys.
Q: What do you expect for this program going forward?
A: We expect to compete for a MAAC Championship every year. That's something that our players and our alumni who built this program have put themselves in a position to do. I think that's realistic every year.
Our other expectation is to vie for the opportunity to be in the NCAA Tournament. Obviously the first step is getting into the MAAC Tournament and then winning it. And as we saw this past year, so many teams are close ... one goal here, one goal there and you can make that run to a quarterfinal or a Final Four appearance. And I think that's very realistic for Siena College.
Q: What has the alumni support meant to this program?
A: Our alumni along with our administration, Fr. Kevin and John D'Argenio, have elevated Siena lacrosse to a national stage. I'm not here without our alumni. They were one of the reasons that I was so fired up to be here. Rob Cross isn't here without our alumni support. He's the first full-time assistant coach in program history.
Our alumni base, not just fundraising, but all of the other forms of support that they offer, everything from helping our guys get jobs, to coming in and speaking to our team and just showing their support. It's huge for our guys.
Q: What does it say about Siena College that athletics is one of the cornerstones of this campaign?
A: I think athletics is a big part of education. I truly believe that as an educator myself, that you can learn quite a bit through athletics - hard work, perseverance, discipline - and the fact that the Board of Trustees and Fr. Kevin have made athletics a part of this campaign is tremendous. It shows that they see athletics as a billboard for the College.
Q: How will this campaign impact your program?
A: It already has in a lot of ways, especially recruiting to families and prospects. It shows positive improvement and movement, and I think that's something that you have to do in all aspects of campus life, not just athletics. You're either building something or something's getting old and out of date.
It's important for our student athletes, families and alumni to know that there are improvements coming down the road - locker room space, practice space, offices - but also to give a fresh look to Siena athletics. Aesthetically, that's going to help. People are going to walk on campus and feel good about what they see.
Q: Men's lacrosse is one of the teams to meet its goal for the Maloney Athletic Challenge, which is a part of this campaign. How do those extra funds help the program?
A: It's been tremendous. The Maloney family has been so generous, along with many other alumni. Those funds help provide travel, apparel and recruiting, being able to get that extra flight to see a top prospect.
Q: What are you most excited about with this campaign?
A: Seeing the end result. Being able to drive down Turchi Road and know that there are so many people involved in making this happen for our campus and for our students. Whatever it ends up looking like, knowing that Fr. Kevin, the Board of Trustees, John D'Argenio and our alumni are behind us. That feeling of commitment from the College is going to help our kids.