Fall Reflection

by Ben Hewitt

Sonoma Lacrosse Family,

Greetings from Rohnert Park! I hope everyone is well as we head into the Holiday season.  The 2019/2020 Sonoma State Lacrosse Fall Ball work kicked off on August 26th and came to an end on October 26th at the Cali Lacrosse Tournament.  Over the two-month period the team practiced three days a week and played a total of eight games.  The players worked hard learning a new system, different terminology, and what to expect from the coaches they were meeting for the first time.  2020 team captains Joey Piombo and Alex Hassana displayed exceptional leadership throughout the sessions, setting the tempo for the season ahead.  For the new staff, the fall represented a process of familiarizing ourselves with the 40-man roster and learning the different skill sets the players brought to the team. Most importantly, the time together allowed the coaches to figure out who the guys were as people both on and away from the field of play.  

The fall also gave those of us new to the program our first real insight into the spirit of Sonoma Lacrosse during the annual Alumni Weekend.  The speeches delivered by SSU Hall of Fame inductees Dan Riddle, Matty Gillian, and Ryan Heidrich had a significant impact on our understanding of the history of the program and the foundations of its success.  It was truly awesome to take in the stories of brotherhood, competition, and shared sacrifice that allowed those men to create the legacies that will forever be a part of the program’s history.  I particularly enjoyed hearing Dan thank the attackmen he went against every practice, while Matty and Ryan simultaneously appreciated the defenders who pushed to reach their highest levels of potential.  We also appreciated getting to meet so many former players who were gracious in welcoming the new staff to the Sonoma Lacrosse Family and offered us support as the program moves forward.

As the fall ball season came to a close, the players shifted from their work on the field to their work in the weight room and fitness studio with Coach Smith.  It was great to come into the rec and see players at different stations throughout the facility on rowing machines, bench presses, running the track, or in 5-minute plank exercises with the coach (I can’t tell you that the rec always loved the perceived “take over of the place by lacrosse,” but ultimately the relationship between the club and rec admin became an amicable one).  Ultimately the experience was very important as we work to grow the strength and conditioning aspects of the program with the long-term goal of utilization of the SSU varsity weight room (if any alumni know the new athletic director and can get us an in we wouldn’t turn you down!).  Finally, the guys did an amazing job representing the program and the university during what will become an annual fall tradition. On November 16th, the players spent their Friday afternoon at La Fiesta Elementary School building a set of gardens for the school’s kindergarten and first grade classes.  It was a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community and I was very proud the effort and pride the guys put into their work.  

Finals week is coming to an end here at the university and the players are preparing to head home for the Winter Break.  A robust “Hell Week” awaits their return on January 13th, as we understand the essential nature of continuing the time honored Sonoma tradition.   We will play a 15 game slate this spring as we feel it important during this transitional period to get as many games under our belt as the schedule will allow.  Of the 15 games, 5 will be against non-conference opponents with the Spring Break trip to Portland, OR to take on Simon Fraser and Oregon State.  Additionally, despite the new rule limiting the amount of conference games teams are mandated to play, we will play every WCLL opponent, understanding the importance of maintaining established rivalries with teams such as UCSB and Cal Poly. 

I will finish by saying that I remain incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of such a proud and historic program. We have a tremendous group of young men who have been putting the hard work in, and have my complete faith that they will continue to do so going forward.  The Blue Collar work ethic is that is the foundation of Sonoma Lacrosse is alive and well. We will utilize that essential aspect of who we are as a program to work toward creating success earned by our efforts.  

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season with your families and continue to be thankful for your support.  It’s a great day to be BLUE!

Ben Hewitt

Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach

Sonoma State University