HAMPTON, VA (WTKR)- Hampton's story on the lacrosse field is still being written and head coach Chazz Woodson is the one with the pen. It all starts with the Pirates' five pillars.
"Accountability, toughness, pride, respect and brotherhood," Woodson listed off. "I think we've exemplified all of those."
Those words are the foundation of the program as the Pirates look to build. It's a team with a lot of sophomores, players who missed their senior years of high school and did not play as freshmen because of the pandemic. They're still adjusting to the college game as Hampton chases its first win since 2019.
"It's different if you go to a school that already has those in place so you go there having strict rules and you know what you're doing, what not to do," sophomore midfielder Ethan Mitchell pointed out. "Here we're still trying to experiment. We know 'OK, if you do this, this happens.' We're still a young team and it's a lot of building."
"A lot of them, before this year, hadn't played a competitive lacrosse game or a meaningful lacrosse game since their junior year of high school," added Woodson. "That's a little tough and they're still growing through that."
This story goes far beyond wins and losses, however. You might find it in a history book. The Pirates are the first and, to date, only Division I men's lacrosse program at an HBCU. That means a great deal to those who take the field and those who guide them.
"Everybody respects the story and the history of this program, but also there's pride in that story and there's pride in wanting to lay the foundation and lay the blueprint for others to pick it up down the road," the head coach said.
"My dreams were basketball and football because that's what I saw on TV," Mitchell noted. "I didn't see too many African-Americans playing lacrosse so now that they can see this on TV or see this on the internet, it's like 'Oh wow, I see myself, I can actually do this.'"
It's bigger than the individual. That's one of the messages Woodson hopes his players are picking up from the experience. Not only are they working to get better for their teammates around them, but they're also paving the way for those who will come after them.
"When they picked up a stick they were looking at other Black players," Woodson said. "They were looking at guys that looked like them, that represented what they wanted to do and what they wanted to be and now they have the opportunity to step into those shoes and do the same thing for others."
It's never easy to build something, but Woodson says that the program is moving according to plan in many aspects. Now it's about everything coming together and creating that masterpiece.
"Sometimes it's tough when you're in the middle of it to feel like that, but I think that when we step away and certainly when we get to the end of the season we'll realize that we made a lot of progress this year," the head coach noted.
"You'll see that we finally made it, it will finally show," added Mitchell. "Right now it's not showing. It's just behind the scenes work, but one day it will pay off."
This marks the seventh year of Hampton's men's varsity lacrosse program. The Pirates return to action on Friday against High Point. Face-off is set for 7:00 at Armstrong Stadium.