Ravens men’s lacrosse welcomes new coach

After a disappointing 2016 season going 1-11, the Ravens men’s lacrosse team has welcomed a new coach and general manager as they head into the season.

Stuart Paynter will be taking over the GM responsibility alongside new coach Jamie Forster, who has a lot to offer on the offensive side of the game. Paynter and Forster have worked together on the board of directors for Nepean Lacrosse in the past.

Forster, together with his wife and children, has a long history of coaching experience over the past 20 years with heavy involvement and dedication to the sport.

“We’re a big lacrosse family, a lot of volunteer hours . . . thousands of volunteer hours. It’s just what we do,” Forster said. Forster’s youngest son is currently attending New Jersey’s Institute of Technology playing NCAA lacrosse.

Forster said he was brought in due to his experience running the offensive side of the game.

“I’ve coached lacrosse in Ottawa for about 17 years now, starting out with my own boys in the minors. Some of the kids actually playing at Carleton now are kids I’ve coached since they were about seven years old,” Forster said. “The other coaches are more defensive types and I think that’s where they were struggling a little . . . not having a lot of structure on the offensive side, so they’ve asked me to come in and run that end of the field.”

Since the Ravens Lacrosse Club was established in 1986, Carleton has seen a number of alumni players go on to play in the National Lacrosse League, such as Jason Tasse (Ottawa Rebels), Shaydon Santos (San Jose Stealth) and Kevin Dostie (Calgary Roughnecks and Buffalo Bandits).

Today, the Ravens play in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association. Forster said his plan as the new coach is to emphasize team culture in a stressful and fast-paced sport.

“At high level sports it becomes 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical. Everybody can run and pass and shoot at this level. You have to out-think your opponent. I want to impart the knowledge I’ve accumulated over my years to the players,” Forster said.

Forster said he also puts an emphasis on his responsibility to demand excellence of his players and push them to succeed on and off the field.

“I want the kids to succeed in the class and on the field, to go on to get their degrees and accomplish the long-term objective,” he said. “This year the team is a really good mix, I’m feeling quite optimistic about it, we’ve got guys from all over the province.”

The Ravens are welcoming many new players as well as returning players.

“I expect veteran players to be leaders, and help the new guys into the system. From what I’ve seen in the first two training sessions, I’m very impressed,” Forster said. “We’ve got a wealth of talent coming in, but not to say that there won’t be some knowledge or skill gaps to fill.”

Forster said he expects that the transition in coaching and philosophy will be a learning curve for the players and coaching staff.

“By mid-season once we get the systems in place, with all the talent it will be up to the boys to put forth the effort to get some wins,” he said.

“The biggest challenge will be time frame, it’s a very short season. We’ve just started training camp and we have our first game on Sept. 7 at McGill. It’s kind of like baptism by fire,” Forster said.

Forster explained that the tight season will make it hard to implement a lot of the new ideas and strategies he wants to implement.

“I’m not going to outright say, we are going to win a championship this year, I just want us to improve as individual players and individual persons,” Forster said.

Forster added his biggest goal is to see his players succeed, both in the classroom and on the field, as well as individually, and to have fun.

“I tell every team I’ve ever coached before the game, I’m a big believer that if you do small stuff right, the big stuff will take care of itself,” Forster said. “If you hustle for ground balls, have a positive attitude . . . that type of thing. The big stuff; the goal scoring, the good defence, will take care of itself.” 

Photo by Trevor Swann