The opportunity to start a new program and have complete control of the offensive game is what led assistant coach Stephen Brundage’s migration from Princeton to the men’s lacrosse team at Marquette. He had been working under the direction of coach Chris Bates at Drexel and Princeton for five years and accepted a new role with head coach Joe Amplo last May.
With an up-and-coming program, not too many people are knocking on Marquette’s doors asking to play lacrosse just yet. As a result, Brundage hits the road or boards a flight every weekend to look for more players that could help the program make a name for itself early on. Amplo believes that one of the biggest strengths that Brundage brings to the table is his recruiting skills as a young, charismatic coach.
“(Brundage) is not only excited to teach but to recruit as well. He’s got an eye for evaluating talent,” Amplo said. “He’s got a great personality and understands what a young man wants to get out of college. He’s got a unique ability to portray that to them.”
Brundage learned how to recruit and coach at his first job with Drexel. His recruiting skills were put to the test in the Ivy League, where he was expected to bring in top talent with no scholarships and higher academic standards.
Princeton is currently ranked tenth in the nation and sophomore Tom Schreiber has been a big part of their team. Brundage worked closely with him on offense to make him an all-conference player. He believes that in due time, he can do the same with some of Marquette’s players.
“I am very happy with where we are with recruiting right now. We are going up against some really good schools,” Brundage said. “We’re going to get some really good players, and I will have the opportunity to coach somebody that has the potential to be an all-conference kid.”
Fellow assistant coach John Orsen is just as excited about the incoming players arriving in August. He has a positive outlook on what the team will looks like once it starts playing games.
“It’s not going to be as scary as we first thought. I think the guys have really grasped what we’ve taught this spring,” Orsen said. “We’ve got some great athletes coming in, so we’re going to match up well.”
Amplo and Brundage are no strangers to matching up against each other. They have stood across from each other on opposing sidelines, but now share the same team. Amplo and Brundage have worked well and bonded in their first year together, but they still share laughs from their days as rivals.
“(Playing and coaching against Amplo) was great because I was usually winning,” Brundage said. “I think my record while playing at Loyola was 3-1. While at Drexel and Princeton, we may have split. Coach Amplo and I didn’t know each other personally, but we always respected the other because we’d always been going at it.”
There’s no telling how the next few years will play out, but Amplo believes he will always have the last laugh.
“(Brundage) thinks he has the upper hand. However, his success in the score column is nowhere near to my success in the amount of playoff games that we’ve played in,” Amplo said. “He has different levels of evaluating success.”