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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo

Freshmen share stories of committing to Taylor

The lacrosse team bonds beyond the field

​​Amidst the beginning of the 2024 season, the Taylor men’s lacrosse team is changing their play. From a young team that started just six years ago to making a push in the WHAC (Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference), the Trojans are headlined with a strong senior class and a deep freshman class.

Two freshmen, Jackson Dale and Will Saxby, shared their journey to Taylor, finding out just how powerful playing with a new group has been.

“Coach came out to one of my tournament games at the end of my junior year (of high school). He let me know what’s going on, what his interest is like,” Saxby said.

Over the next year, Saxby and head coach Chad Newhard continued conversations via texts and phone calls. 

Saxby eventually made his way to a lacrosse practice, where he asked his future coach for a T-shirt. Naturally, coach Newhard asked why. Saxby responded, “I gotta wear the T-shirt for sign-in day, coach.” Needless to say, he’s glad to be wearing purple and gray. 

For Dale, his experience with Taylor stems from his parents, both of whom attended the university.

During his recruiting cycle, Taylor was not a serious destination for the midfielder, but as soon as he took a visit to the university, he realized that the program was becoming something great. He sought what he felt the Lord was calling him to do, trusting the coach and the existing players in the process. 

The duo’s first experience as teammates was waking up for a 4 a.m. run before practice began at 5:30 a.m. Saxby recalls being shaken awake and getting ready quickly before running down the infamous ‘Devil’s Backbone,’ a strip of road that is notorious for hills and bumps, making for a dangerous ride of any capacity. 

Dale recalls a funnier story. As he walked into the locker room that day, the music was blaring. 

“Temperature by Sean Paul is blasting,” he said. “It’s 4:15 in the morning, and just seeing laughter and culture around that felt like I made a good choice.” 

The Trojans just finished a road stretch, starting in Florida. Though taking a tough 21-4 loss to No. 3 Webber International, the trip was not about the score. 

The two-week stretch proved to be a bonding moment for the freshmen. Saxby described the experience as “cementing” the bond the team has. Since then, the Trojans have taken a couple of close losses within two and three scores. 

Coach Newhard has seen immediate success from the freshman class providing a lot of similarities in character to the senior class. Being the head coach, he’s seen all of the bonding happening at once he says it’s been fun to watch. 

“I’m having a blast,” he said. “The team has a desire to get better, it’s been a fun group to be around, I’m excited.” This year the Trojans have ten seniors, double the size from last year. Newhard regards a lot of the leadership and bonding by a sense of togetherness, as the seniors have done an incredible job taking the younger classes under their wing. 

Newhard believes this year holds the most talented team he’s coached thus far. He looks at the upcoming demanding schedule noting many of the opponents are ranked quite high. It makes for tough matchups but great games. 

“This team has dealt with a lot of adversity,” Newhard said. “They’ve continued to have positive attitudes. They keep doing great things.” 

The Trojans’ first home game is set for March 9 against RV Columbia University.