Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Jamaica’s new lacrosse coach brimming with enthusiasm

Published:Thursday | December 29, 2022 | 1:28 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Mark Wilson, Jamaica’s new lacrosse coach.
Mark Wilson, Jamaica’s new lacrosse coach.

RECENTLY APPOINTED national men’s lacrosse coach Mark Wilson says first on his agenda is making a good impression at the World Championships in June 2023.

Next, the new coach has plans of getting Jamaica to the 2028 Olympic Games.

Wilson, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a player and coach, also wants to continue to help the sport grow so that Jamaica becomes a standard-bearer internationally.

“In the short term, we have the World Championships coming up in San Diego. We want to have a great showing in that tournament so we can keep progressing and have a strong programme for ourselves.

“But also, we want to have long-term goals, and [one of those] goals is to be at the Olympics in 2028.

“We want to position ourselves as one of the top teams in the world so we can be recognised as a team that is viable and can be supported in Jamaica as an Olympic programme.

“Hopefully, we can do those two things of performing in the World Championships and getting recognised and have the opportunity to represent Jamaica at the Olympics. That will open the door for us and ensure that we fully entrench the growth of the sport here,” he said.

“Hopefully, we can continue to be the leader of the sport in the Caribbean and be like other sports on the island where we are very proud and recognised world-wide as being one of the top competitors.”

Wilson, who was assistant to previous coach Bill Silcott, said he learned a lot from his predecessor and believes that his experience with the team will serve him well in his new role.

He has been working on a number of things over the past month to improve the team. He is currently here in the island conducting winter camps and will be holding national tryouts today.

He revealed that his optimism going into the World Championships is a result of the growing number of quality players that are available in the diaspora, and he admits that he is pleased to have such rich talent at his disposal.

“Our team is in a really great state. In 2018 when we just started, we weren’t even sure how many players we could connect with in the diaspora, and we didn’t have that much development of the game here on the island.

“There weren’t many players, and they weren’t playing and training at such a high level. So the player pool was not what it is now,” he recalled.

“This players’ pool has about 200 players in the diaspora, and out of that 200 we have about 80 serious competitors, people who can compete and represent Jamaica well.

“So we currently have the biggest player pool we could have, with players from Jamaica, United States, Canada, and England. It is truly a representation of the Jamaican Diaspora.”

The pool includes players in the professional ranks, college, and other club players. “We have a wide range of talented athletes that we have the luxury of choosing from.

“Hopefully, I can do a great job and continue doing it for a long time. My hope is that when we look back at this it will be the start of something when Jamaicans get to say they are one of the best in this sport.”

Jamaica Lacrosse Association president Calbert Hutchinson noted that Wilson was the assistant coach when Jamaica debuted at the 2018 World Championships, where Jamaica finished 13th.

Wilson was also the assistant coach at the recent PALA Championship in Colombia, where Jamaica finished second to qualify for the 2023 World Championships.

“Mark has been a valued and treasured member of Jamaica lacrosse. We look forward to his continued good work and efficiency as our national team gets ready to take on the world once more in San Diego in 2023,” said Hutchinson.