Joe Amplo: One @ Marquette
Joe Amplo is getting ready to explore uncharted territory at the helm of the Marquette men’s lacrosse team, as it prepares for its first season as a NCAA Division-I team.
Marquette University decided to add a men’s and women’s lacrosse program to the list of NCAA Division-I sports on Dec. 16th, 2010. The search for a head coach on the men’s side would take two months as Amplo was announced as the first coach in the team’s young history in February.
That’s when Amplo and his family moved from Long Island, where he served as an assistant coach for the men’s lacrosse team at Hofstra. He coached the Pride to seven NCAA tournaments and served as a coach under championship winning coach John Danowski.
After adding assistant coaches John Orsen, Stephen Brundage and Scott Rodgers to the staff, recruiting was underway. While recruiting and talking to players, Amplo underscored the challenges that starting a new program could bring and looked for those that would be ready to move forward after those challenges.
“We’re going to find out who the men are,” Amplo said. “It will be those that are willing to trust themselves and their teammates to build this thing.”
In Aug. 2011, 28 players accepted the invitation by Amplo to step up to those challenges. By the fall of 2012, the team expanded to 49 members and is preparing for their first match in October.
Among the players currently on the roster, three of them played under Amplo with Hofstra before transferring. All players understood that Marquette would not be playing in games in 2011 and they would red-shirt the season. The oldest member of the Marquette team is listed as a junior on the roster.
Marquette passed up on the opportunity to compete against club-level competition to hone in on creating team chemistry and developing their players’ athletic ability.
The 2011 season was used as time to get to know the community and build team chemistry. Amplo established a culture among the team where the players aim for excellence in everything they do and are accountable for all of their actions. Many of the team’s members room with each other, but get to know other students at the school through clinics and events like Al’s Run.
Marquette’s athletics department released its first lacrosse schedule on Sep. 12th and will be playing against several ranked opponents throughout the year. Amplo believes that wins and losses against those teams will not be the focus of the first year of competition.
“If we can look back and say we invested as much as we possibly could, individually and collectively, to being the best that we could be,” Amplo said, “That’s success to us.”
Their first challenge will come on October 6th as they participate in the 2012 Headstrong Tournament and play against High Point and Robert Morris. The Headstrong Foundation aims to fundraise and support those affected by blood cancer. Amplo coached Nicholas Colleluori when he was a player at Hofstra.
When the team is not on the field, players can be seen around the Al McGuire Center’s Eagles Nest studying or participating in events around campus. Amplo’s mission may not be to create winners right away, but leaders and men for others in the Marquette community.
“Since the day I arrived here, I’ve understood that Marquette is a community that rallies around the athletic department,” Amplo said. “It’s truly a place where there is this sense of pride just walking around campus. We want to become a team that Marquette is proud to cheer for.”
Marquette is ranked 39th in the country in the NCSA Collegiate Power Rankings, which measures each school’s academic and athletic success. With over a 90% graduation rate for its athletes, Amplo’s vision for this team is headed in a similar direction.