The Captain Shares His Expectations for the 2014 Season
Jimmy Craft, the captain of the 2014 Yale Lacrosse Team, sat down with Yale Sports Publicity Director Steve Conn this winter to discuss last year's accomplishments and the expectations for the 2014 season.
SC: The Bulldogs registered a victory at Penn State in the first round of the national tournament and came within a goal of their first semifinal since 1990. What did last year's NCAA Tourney success do for the program?
JC: Last year's success has done wonders for the Yale Lacrosse program. It's been great hearing from all the alumni about their excitement for where this program is currently at. It's also cool when you run into kids at summer tournaments and camps throughout the country who are now Yale fans and are asking for my gear. The success also helps in the recruiting process when high school players see Yale lacrosse competing on ESPN against Syracuse. The continued success over the past four seasons, especially last year's, has provided a lot of life to our entire program.
SC: You've been a consistent long-stick midfielder for the Elis and someone who has garnered much respect from your teammates who voted you to the captaincy. What is your style of leadership as a captain?
JC: The entire senior class really tries to make coming to practice the highlight of our days. Our team has a ton of fun out on the field while still holding each other accountable.
SC: Yale has won 43 games over the last four seasons and has had post-season success the last two. What are your expectations for the 2014 season?
JC: We all believe that this team is poised for big things this coming season. We expect to get better each and every day and to be prepared for each opponent we play. We all know this team cannot afford to take a day off with such a short season.
SC: Is that any different than your season goals?
JC: Our expectations are the same as our goals. As long as we can get better each and everyday, stay focused, and have a blast, everything will work itself out. This team expects great things, but we can't afford to look past today.
SC: You have been a starter the last two seasons while finishing among the team leaders in ground balls and caused turnovers. Describe your strengths as a player.
JC: I like to think I am an intelligent player that helps maintain the necessary amount of cohesiveness needed for our defensive unit. I also like to cause turnovers by chasing out shots. This year I hope to help out the offense with producing some transition goals.
SC: The accomplishments of the Yale program in recent years have brought memories of the great Bulldog squads of the early 90s. What is it like playing for Coach Shay?
JC: It's been an amazing three and a half years playing for Coach Shay and the rest of the coaching staff. They do a tremendous job making sure that we are prepared week in and week out during the season. A unique thing about this program - which is a direct result of the coaching staff - is that every player enjoys every single lift, practice, meeting etc. I don't believe other programs can say throughout the country. I couldn't imagine playing for any other coach.
SC: The Bulldogs have the luxury of playing home games at one of the best lacrosse venues in the nation. How does Reese Stadium impact the Yale program?
JC: I was fortunate enough to be in the first class to enjoy the renovated Reese Stadium for my entire time here at Yale. We simply have the best college lacrosse venue that I have ever played at. Reese Stadium definitely has a huge impact on recruiting top high school players who want to play at the best facilities possible. There is nothing like game-day when you have fans packed in the stands and have Yale students along the sidelines. We definitely have won a lot of our close games because of the fans.
SC: You've won two straight Ivy Tourney Championships. Does that success give you more confidence as you look for a regular season league championship?
JC: Winning two straight Ivy Tourney Championships definitely adds to my confidence this year because we understand what it takes to win a championship. At the same time, no one on our team has won a regular season championship. We are hoping that these experiences from the past two tourneys will help us compete for an Ivy League Championship.