When John Orsen arrived at Hofstra to play lacrosse as a freshman, it was Joe Amplo’s first year as an assistant coach. When Orsen arrived at Marquette to be an assistant coach, it was Amplo’s first year as head coach.
Over the years, the relationship between Orsen and Amplo has developed on and off the field to the point where Amplo now turns to one of his former players for advice.
“I loved playing for him,” Orsen said. “On the field he is very intense. Off the field, you could talk to him about any problems you might have in your life.”
When Amplo was coaching with the Pride, Orsen was an instrumental player in the team’s run to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Tournament. In his junior and senior year, Orsen served as captain due to his leadership and versatility. He was flexible and open to playing any position on the field, which ultimately strengthened his I.Q. of the game.
“While being a good defender, you have to have an offensive mentality,” Orsen said. “After playing as an attackman my whole life, I knew what an attackman’s tendencies were. As a defender you’re trying to take that away.”
Amplo believes that Orsen’s transition as a player speaks the values of the traits he wants to instill in his team now.
“The most important thing that I want to instill in the guys here at Marquette is to buy into our team concept of doing everything for the team first,” Amplo said. “There’s not a person that I’ve been around that exemplifies that more than (Orsen). He put the team ahead of himself.”
Orsen is still growing as a recruiter and as a coach. Before arriving at Marquette, he spent the last few years as a manager for Trinity Lacrosse, one of the more renowned lacrosse programs that offers summer camps and clinics all around the country.
According to Orsen, teaching fundamentals to five-year-olds is not as easy as it sounds, and he uses the experiences from Trinity Lacrosse to reiterate the importance of nailing the basics on the field.
After working with Orsen for a year, assistant coach Stephen Brundage believes that the coaching staff made do with what it had in 2011-’12 and realized there will be obstacles on the road to the Big East.
“It hasn’t been the smoothest road, but we knew that going in,” Brundage said. “But overall, our guys have been great to and have worked their tails off. All the stuff we don’t have yet hasn’t bothered us because we just want to work and get better.”
Practices for the men’s lacrosse team ended earlier in the week and the team’s last day of weight lifting sessions was on Tuesday. Following the season, Orsen will be suiting up for Team USA in the 2011 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship in the Czech Republic. Amplo looks back on the year with his two assistants and could not be more thankful for their work.
“I want to thank them for believing in my vision for the program and understanding that there will be obstacles and challenges,” Amplo said. “They get more excited about those challenges than I do, and I need that as a head coach. I need guys that believe in the same things just as much as I do. They’ve shown that to me, and I couldn’t be more grateful.”