Blogs and Commentary

posted 01.21.2014 at 11.01 a.m. by Jac Coyne

Morning Jac: Le Moyne's Gear Outreach

The allure of lacrosse gear has always eluded me. The various designs, colors, fabrics and manufacturers of equipment have never piqued my interest, but there's no question that they play a huge role in the sport's zeitgeist. There are websites dedicated solely to highlighting new concepts in how a player looks and a lot of coaches understand that it is a component of selling a program.

Le Moyne is using this growing population of gear fetishists to give fans of the Dolphins' program — alumni in particular — a small role in how the team will look. The athletic department has devised a "uniform creator" on its website that can be used to determine what the Dolphins will wear in their Feb. 15 season opener against Assumption. There are two helmet options and three each for shirt and shorts.

For Le Moyne coach Dan Sheehan, it's an easy way to accomplish one of his long-standing missions.

"For the past 10 years, I've taken an awful lot of pride in is really keeping our alumni base in tune with everything in the program, from recruiting to scheduling down the road," Sheehan said. "This is just another way to keep our fans and supporters involved and excited."

The uniform creator is the brainchild of Le Moyne's sports information director, Kevin McNeill, who also is the de facto marketing guy for the Dolphins.

"He's always looking at new ideas," Sheehan said of McNeill. "He has fun with it because of the success that we've had, and certainly our relationship with Brine and Warrior allows us to do pretty well on the equipment/gear side of things. I'm not really sure how he got the idea — whether he woke up one morning or what — but the response that I've gotten from the alumni and the kids, it's pretty cool."

McNeill's idea stemmed from talking with representatives at Warrior to see if there was a way to use the gear to create involvement from fans and alums much like what is happening in the NCAA football landscape.

"We said, 'Let's have some fun with it and let people click around and look at it,'" McNeill said. "It's something I'd like to do in other sports, but I knew there would be a good following because gear and apparel in lacrosse is such a popular topic that it blends close with football, where it's going crazy. We tried to monkey around and have fun with it. Our first home game is in about a month, so let's let people pick what we wear. The kids are having fun with it."

The alumni component was a big factor.

"We always have folks who are really connected to the program and [Sheehan] does a wonderful job of engaging his alums. We wanted to keep them in the loop with the various ideas that we have," McNeill said. "In many cases, he gets emails saying, 'Oh, I wish we did that when we were there,' or 'I wish we had three sets of uniforms.' It's another way to connect with our followers and let them have some say in it. And on the recruiting side it's probably a neat thing, too."

McNeill is not sure if this is an original idea, but he had never heard of it before in the lacrosse realm. Is it a groundbreaking concept? Maybe, but more importantly, it's a relatively easy way to keep a fan base involved. For programs in the Division II and Division III realm, that's a critical ingredient in long-term success.