Participation in club sports at the University at St. Thomas is at an all-time high, with nearly 500 students involved this academic year. Among the 16 club sports, men’s lacrosse is considered one of the nation’s best, having captured a record six Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) titles from 2009-19.
Jason King ’10, head coach of the St. Thomas men’s lacrosse team, has been a constant in this successful run since the start of his Tommie academic career in 2006. After taking over as the head coach in 2019, King led the team through the pandemic, winning the unofficial MCLA postseason tournament in 2021. In the team’s first full season back last spring, St. Thomas played as the No. 1 overall seed in the MCLA national tournament.
During King’s four years as a student, he participated as a player and a captain, and led the team to its first MCLA titles in 2009 and 2010. After coaching the varsity team at Mahtomedi High School, he returned to St. Thomas in 2014 and joined the staff as an assistant, with the Tommies winning titles in 2016 and 2019.
The majority of the money to fund the lacrosse team is raised by students. Being that most club sport coaches are volunteers, there’s no denying that King has a love for lacrosse and leading a team to success.
The Newsroom talked with King about his beginnings with lacrosse, becoming head coach, and what the future of Tommie lacrosse might look like.
Where did your interest in lacrosse come from?
I feel like I got lucky here, because lacrosse wasn’t big in Minnesota when I started playing. I first picked up a lacrosse stick in 1999 and the only reason I did was because of a family who wanted to start a Mahtomedi lacrosse club. My parents or [my friend] Sam’s parents would drive us to Hopkins once or twice a week to play lacrosse ... and I was hooked.
What made you interested in coaching? Why volunteer for St. Thomas?
I played lacrosse at St. Thomas and was fortunate to have a great experience here, making lifelong friendships. The coaches I had during that time, Pete Moosbrugger, Jim Riley and Brian Gross, really impacted my life. They drove a passion for the sport and made me want to give back, so when I had an opportunity to become coach it was a no-brainer.
How has the men’s lacrosse team changed or improved since you became head coach?
I’m trying to carry on the culture that has been ingrained in the team over the years ... I think we do a good job of having our players set goals for themselves and reinforce the idea that it’s about the journey and not the destination. We’re always striving for continuous improvement.
How has the pandemic changed the team?
It was very difficult to figure out how we were going to keep people engaged and still keep the love for lacrosse and see the value in it on the back side of things. We had a lighter roster but used the passion that people have for getting together and seeing it that way, instead of just competing, so bringing up the importance of camaraderie and friendships that you get from the team was the biggest focal point. I think that’s why we are where we are today.
Where do you think the future of Tommie Lacrosse is heading?
For now we’re continuing the status quo, trying to being the best team in the area, giving a place where kids can go and play lacrosse post-high school. I think seeing the school grow, it would be cool to see the men’s and women’s teams be taken under the university’s wing at some point, considering this is a growing hotbed for the sport that’s untapped.
Anything else to add?
I think it’s cool to see the school support the team, and I’d love to give a shout-out to Kevin Manson, the club sports activities director. He’s been a big part of making us feel appreciated and a resource for us to feel that we can get support from the school when we need it.