Earlham College men’s lacrosse head coach James Grace will not be back to coach lacrosse for the Quakers next season.
Quakers lacrosse is only in its second year competing. In 2018, the Quakers didn’t win a single game. This year, they have 4 wins and are set to play Hanover in HCAC playoffs.
“It was shocking, and my immediate reaction when the news broke is what is going to happen with the guys and the team,” Grace said. “But I was reassured that the program will continue and that was good to know.”
The news came as a shock because it was announced during the season. Athletic Director Julie Kline said, “Coach Jason Grace has resigned his position as the Head Men’s Lacrosse coach. We are grateful for his service to our Men’s Lacrosse program, our department and to the College. We wish him well in all of his future professional endeavors.”
According to Grace, he found out he wasn’t going to return next season on Friday, March 29th and broke the news to his team Monday, April 1st.
“The purpose of doing that was I didn’t want to hold that information from them for that long. At that point in time, I felt that was the best way and time to do it.” Grace said.
“We have two different views. We have the same goal, the school and me, but the path getting there wasn’t the same. There’s no tension between me and the school. Everyone is on good terms.” Grace said.
Grace will finish out the season with the Quakers, but when the news broke to the players and the school, there was a lot of confusion, and people, mainly the players, were upset.
“I’m hurt, straight up hurt that our coach is not getting brought back to Earlham next year,” said sophomore defender Josh Wilson. “He took a team of kids who never played before besides 3 players in their first year going winless to making the playoff and securing the number 3 seed in the conference in the second year.”
Speaking to the team, not one player agrees with the choice to bring in a new coach.
“Julie Kline did not appear to care about the concerns of the team, rather she seemed concerned with reconstructing the program to fit her image,” said sophomore defender Wil Frye.
Frye continued, “She wants a 40-45-man roster which is ridiculous, we already made the playoffs with 15 so imagine what we could do with 25. She decided to move in a new direction without giving us a chance to prove ourselves, but our win against MSJ at home proved that we deserve to be here.” MSJ stands for Mount St. Joseph University, a school in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Grace said he will coach the rest of the season as if this information is nonexistent, but he knows the last game will be emotional.
“It’s always tough to leave a team, but these guys are stuck with me, they know they can always contact me,” Grace said, “So, yes, that last time on the field with them will be tough, but they are stuck with me for life.”
“Even though I only got one year with him it was the best seasons of my life,” Wilson said. “The man will always be family to me because he treated me like family. And I know I can speak for others when I say coach Grace was a big reason why we played. Any program who will give him time for his vision will have found a one in a decade coach.”
Photos by Masha Morgunova