Mercer Impressive in Public Debut in More Ways Than One

MACON, Ga. Mercer University first-ever men's lacrosse team doesn't officially begin its season until late January, but if the interest in the "Orange & White" intersquad scrimmage is any barometer, then 2011 should be exciting for the Bears' newest sport. Upwards of 300 fans ranging from parents and friends to students and the curious from the community saw MU's split squad play to a 7-7 draw.

"I think there were a lot of good things," said Mercer head coach Jason Childs. "We had a ton of shots and a ton of goals. For our team to combine for 14 goals, I think that's awesome.

"Defensively, we slid hard and we slid well. Each of our goalkeepers had at least one great save and that was positive to see. There were some negatives, as well, but today we're going to focus on the positives and have a fun time. We'll focus on the negatives tomorrow."

After all Childs, who has spent the better part of the past year building Mercer's program from the ground up, knows that his young team will face challenges. Likewise, Childs sees the big picture involved in not only creating a team, but truly making it into a "program." Thus, the large fan base for what amounted to a practice and a well-attended barbecue afterwards for players and family members.

"I think that the 'tone' we set was incredibly positive across campus," Childs said. "To have probably well over 300 people at a scrimmage shows that people are really excited about (lacrosse). Because it was our first time out, the ball was on the ground a lot and that made for some exciting transition lacrosse for the fans. I think it was a fun atmosphere."

Childs may have learned an even bigger aspect about his own team because of the scrimmage as to what type of people will be donning the Bears' colors and wearing the Mercer name come January. And it all revolved around one of the teams' uniforms.

Even though it was billed as the "Orange & White" game, the Mercer players wanted to wear Orange and Black, since that reflected their uniform colors. So the team went out on its own and bought black uniforms to wear, which in and of itself showed their desire to emote team spirit. But Childs' Bears took it one step further.

The Mercer players wanted to do something to support the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, so they had the numbering on the black shirts done in pink, as well as a pink ribbon on the black shorts. Each player also put in pink shoelaces.

"I think that speaks to the kind of character our guys have," Childs beamed. "For them to want to come out and do something like that for a great cause made me very proud. I know the moms and dads were really touched, because it was a surprise to them, as well. I'm very pleased with the idea that it wasn't a coaches' thing, but a players' thing. For them to want to do that speaks volumes about where we are, character-wise, as a program."


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