Wheeling Jesuit University
Stepping into the "Spotlight" this week is the Wheeling Jesuit University Cardinals. Tucked away in the beautiful rolling hills of Northern West Virginia is a landmarkUniversity and a legitimate lacrosse contender in DII. Coach Sothoron has things headed in the right direction as the Cardinals are coming off their best season in recent memory, finishing up at a deceiving 8-8. A couple of close 1-point losses in the middle of the season kept them from having an unforgettable year.
WJU has a mean looking Cardinal logo that we wanted to showcase in all three pieces of their uniform. The reversibles were made of our lightweight tech-mesh and they feature the "oversized" Cardinal on the front and player numbers on the back. The sublimated shorts have the Cardinal on the left leg and number on the right leg. A gradient Red-to-White design pattern accompanies the bright Athletic Gold side panels to give them a unique look. Coach Sothoron elected to keep it simple and clean with the moisture-wicking shooting shirts. "Jesuit Lacrosse" is scripted across the chest with the Cardinal on the back. Cohesive designs, vibrant colors, and a great logo make these one of our favorite uniform combinations we have done.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Coach Sothoron about team expectations for the coming year, transitioning the program, and what made him choose Lacrossewear for their uniform needs. In the 2012 season, the Cards were young across the board. "Last year we only graduated 3 Senior’s, so I feel we have a great base returning for this season. Most of our Junior’s have been starters since they were Freshmen and they are very talented," Coach said. Wheeling is also transitioning into the South Conference this year as opposed to the uber-loaded ECC they played in last year, adding an interesting wrinkle to 2013. Coach Sothoron said, "My expectations are high for next season. We are shifting to a new conference where we expect to be immediate contenders and the NCAA is making DII an 8 team playoff this year instead of 4. Realistically, I think we have a great shot to make the tournament with the talent on our roster."
As a former player at WJU, I had a number of questions for Coach Sothoron that I wanted to touch base with him about. He gladly obliged. First, here is some background on the program that he took over. In January of 2008, then Head Coach Kevin Tyska unexpectedly passed away at the young age of 43. I played for Coach Tyska and let me tell you, he was a sparkplug of an individual. He was extremely passionate about lacrosse, life, coaching, and his legacy was certainly left at the program. After the tragic loss, the entire lacrosse program was in a bit of disarray. They brought in ex-player Chris Fox to right the ship and he did a tremendous job keeping the team together. The following year, WJU hired Jay Sothoron to be Head Coach.
They made a great decision. Coach said himself that he never tried to replace the way Tyska did things. "I really didn't try to change to much, luckily I had an unbelievable group of Seniors in place that knew how to work hard and compete." After those Senior’s graduated, the rebuilding began. The following year they endured the struggles of a youthful team compiled with the toughest schedule in all of Division II. Looking into 2013, their once young team is now all grown up. Coach Sothoron now has all of his own recruits and expectations are high. "No excuses. Now I have all my own guys and we have experience."
I asked Coach to describe some of the difficulties of recruiting lacrosse players to come to West Virginia. He said, "It kind of works both ways, initially I am sure a number of guys out there never even open recruiting letter with a WV return address. On the other hand, whenever a recruit comes to visit, they end up leaving pleasantly surprised. There is a general misconception about West Virginia. We have a beautiful campus, tremendous facilities, and there is plenty to do in Wheeling."
He was able to successfully recruit two outstanding defenseman that will highlight his roster in 2013. Matt Maccario has started every game since he set foot in Wheeling. The team captain was 2nd-team all ECC last year and he led the entire NCAA in forced turnovers. Corey Luebbe is another talented defender and Sothoron feels he has barely scratched the surface of his potential. These two guys embody the strength of their team and will look to anchor the defense in 2013. On offense, they have an abundance of talent and depth across the board. Opposing defenses won’t be able to lock onto one guy as Coach Sothoron has a stable of weapons at both attack and midfield at his disposal. Tyler Buchan led the team in points last season as a Freshman midfielder from Canada. Keep on the look out for a huge improvement from the Cardinals this season and possibly a post-season bid.
Finally, I asked Coach Sothoron what made him chose Lacrossewear for his uniform needs. He said, "It's funny. Years ago I worked a number of camps in North Carolina. A Lacrossewear employee at the time also worked the camp and would bring up various sublimated shorts and apparel as give-a-ways. That's where I first heard of you guys. Then, this past summer I worked a camp at Bucknell. They had just gotten in a shipment from Lacrossewear for shorts. I thought they were very cool and so did the kids at the camp. I decided to give Lacrossewear a call and things went from there." Nearly a month after Coach made that call, he will have these incredible uniforms in his hand. There is no doubt WJU will look good in 2013, now it's just up to Coach Sothoron and the boys to play good. Good Luck and Go Cards!
If you or your team in interested in Lacrossewear sublimated products, please call 954-429-1091 and speak with one of our friendly account managers to get the ball rolling on your next uniform or apparel.