Justin Chapman | Echo
The men's varsity lacrosse program now has their first-ever head coach. Jared Nies comes to Taylor after being the lacrosse head coach at Judson University for two seasons.
He acknowledges being the first head coach for Taylor is a big honor. With the lacrosse program having their opening varsity season next school year, Nies is recruiting heavily.
"Taylor is well known throughout the country, and that's why we're able to attract student-athletes to come visit from different regions of the country," said Nies. "We just had a student come from Georgia to take a visit."
Nies believes in building a team with skilled players who value their faith and personal growth. He wants the culture to be one which honors God. This is expressed in their mission statement, which says "to pursue excellence for the glory of God."
In an effort to live by their mission statement, the team will go on an outreach project every other year. This entails visiting another community that is less fortunate and helping them with what they need.
Being a coach demands many roles. Nies needs to lead this team on the field, but also be someone who can help these players develop as men.
"A coach wears many hats," said Nies. "You are a mentor, you're a teacher and you're a motivator. You have to have different roles in different situations. My primary role is to teach and to guide these young men through these four years and hopefully have relationships when they leave Taylor."
Nies is very experienced in lacrosse, having played four years at Messiah College and continuing as a grad assistant for the Falcons. He was their defensive coordinator and recruiting specialist. Nies also was an assistant coach at Wheaton Academy and a head coach for a local club team.
Athletics director Kyle Gould is excited to welcome Nies and the new varsity program to Taylor. He has already seen how hard Nies works at his job as recruiting has increased this summer. The team already has a few commitments from future players.
"We definitely think he's the right guy," said Gould. "He emerged as that guy from our candidate pool. He has the full support of our athletic department as well as all the coaches. Several of our coaches have already connected with him."
While Nies has support, the upcoming road could be challenging. Starting a new program is a process. They want to retain as many players as possible from the club team, but the reality is, over half the varsity team will be freshmen in the opening season.
Gould believes Nies will make great long-term decisions for the program. The hope is for this program to be sustainable for the future.
Taylor's lacrosse team also wants to be a missionary to the lacrosse community. Nies wants other teams to see something distinct with this program.
"There has to be something different about Taylor lacrosse," said Nies. "We need to be a light to the world and that's how we act, that's how we play. If we get a cheap shot, we just walk away. When we pray after games, we're inviting to the other team. Because that might be the first time they've really seen a brotherhood of Christians before."
"Photograph by Hannah Bolds"