KINZIE SCHWEIGERT, SPORTS EDITOR

 

Last month, the Illinois Wesleyan University Athletic Department announced that they would add men’s and women’s lacrosse teams to its list of varsity sports.

Both teams will compete in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, and the men’s team will begin play next spring (2014) and the women will start the following spring (2015).

At the time of the announcement, the search for a coach was still under way, but the IWU Athletic Department has recently announced that the search is over. 25-year-old Zach Iannucci will be the new head coach for men’s lacrosse.

When asked what drew Iannucci to IWU, he said, “I love the balance between academics and athletics. In my opinion, there is nothing not to love about IWU.  The people are great, the city is a great college town, the facilities and campus are beautiful, the academic profile of the school is high and the athletic department has a tradition of winning.”

“His brief assistant coaching experiences had been at Hendrix College (Arkansas) and Oberlin College (Ohio), both quality academic institutions, along with his engaging personality” is what sold Athletic Director Dennie Bridges on Iannucci.

Iannucci coached the 2012 season at Oberlin as defensive coordinator where he also assisted in scouting and recruiting. He will need both of these skills to start a team from scratch in 2014.

“Personally, I believe that any successful program builds itself strong from the bottom up” Iannucci said. “We will do this by recruiting academically strong, high-character student athletes with the ability to make significant contributions to the lacrosse program.”

“We recognize that Zach is getting a late start in recruiting.  He is by nature a confident person and will field a competitive team in 2014,” Bridges said.

“Really, the school sells it self.  To me, it’s the total package for recruits.” Iannucci said. “Right now we are talking to both transfers and freshman, but my main focus is on incoming freshman.”

According to Iannucci a 2013-2014 game schedule is already close to complete.

“We are looking to schedule quality opponents, as well as a fall tournament and spring trip.  We also need to order equipment and uniforms.  We are off to a great start and the support around the program has been great in making this happen,” Iannucci said.

Right now Iannucci is going it alone without any additional coaching staff, but assistant coaches are in the works.

“The assistant coaching situation in lacrosse will mirror what we do in other sports.  This means a part-time position or a grad assistant.  When exactly that happens is not certain, but for sure starting next school year,” Bridges said.

According to Bridges, Iannucci only has temporary office cubicle in the IWU athletic offices, but there are remodeling plans in the works for Shirk to add a few offices. Bridges said you can expect to see Iannucci on campus soon.

“He will be on campus periodically the rest of this semester to host recruits,” Bridges said. “He will be here on a full-time basis after Christmas break at the latest.”

As for coaching style, Iannuci said, “I believe I am a players’ coach.  I am passionate about what I do and love every minute.”

“It is exciting for me to start the program here at IWU because what we do in these first few years is really what this program will be known for 20 years from now,” Iannuci said.