Captains’ Corner: James McFarland ’18

Team: Men’s lacrosse

Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Hometown: Northbrook, Ill.

Residence: Meadow

Major: Economics and history

Snack bar order: Breakfast burrito

What is your background in sports?

I grew up playing hockey, lacrosse and football. I started playing lacrosse relatively late. I started in sixth grade,  and part of that is a product of being from the Midwest. People start a little bit later out there. I really liked it, mostly the speed of it, so I just kept playing.

Why did you choose to come to the College?

It is the best blend of athletics, academics and social scene. It had all three of those things that I was looking for in a college.

What is the lacrosse team’s culture like?

Everyone on the team is really close, inside and outside of lacrosse, which is pretty unique. I think in some sports, kids are just friends at practice. The lacrosse team is friends outside of lacrosse. So, it’s like hanging out with four of your best friends while you’re playing a sport, which is fun.

As captain, how do you go about creating a good team dynamic?

We all have a common goal. We all understand what we want to accomplish. I try to lead by example, reminding everyone what our goals [are] and how to achieve [them].

What is it like working with your co-captains,  Nicholas Fils-Aime ’18, Benjamin Fox ’18, Henry Hobbs ’18 and Greg Plumb ’18?

It is great. We have five captains this year, which has made things a lot easier on each of us. No one feels the burden or the pressure of having the answers for everything. There is a diffusion of responsibility. It makes it easier for each of us to do our job and try to lead, since we don’t feel like we are in the spotlight the entire time. It’s a relief.

What’s your relationship with head coach George McCormack like?

It’s good. He’s a good coach. He’s a good guy. He cares about us and wants us to do well outside of lacrosse as well. He is always checking in with us to make sure everything on campus is going well.

What’s your mindset like before going into a game or a tournament?

In my four years, we have made the transition to being comfortable with our opponents. We don’t go into any games being afraid to lose. We know that we are capable of playing with anyone in the country when we play well. Now, we have an expectation to win, [and it] is exciting to know that you can compete with anyone. There are some teams in our conference where, no matter how well they play on that day, they just aren’t physically good enough athletes or aren’t going to beat some teams. I don’t think that is the case for us. Even the top teams in the NESCAC or the country, we can compete with. Having that mental aspect gives us an advantage.

What makes you continue playing lacrosse?

I do love the game. I am a competitive person, so I like to play in a competitive sports environment. More importantly is the social aspect of it. Having a common interest with a lot of people and being able to create friendships that will last longer than lacrosse season is probably the most important thing.

What are the best and worst things about the sport?

The best thing is that it is super fast. It is back and forth all the time. It is super up-tempo. The worst thing about lacrosse is the face-off component. It really slows down the game. Maybe if they took off the face-off and put in the shot clock, it would make the game even faster. Implementing a shot clock of some sort, like in basketball, could be interesting.

Unfortunately, the team lost in the NESCAC semifinals. Overall, how was the season? What were some personal and team goals?

Our goal was obviously to win NESCAC championships, which didn’t happen, but this is the first time in I don’t know how long that we’ve hosted a playoff game. We were the No. 4 seed, and that hasn’t happened in my fours years here. So, that was a good step forward, to break into the ranks of the top four and become one of those teams that hosted a playoff game. That is one of our team achievements. Personally, the thing that I myself am most proud of this year was being a leader and a senior captain on a team that has gotten progressively better since I have been here. Our class has definitely left the place better than we found it. We are taking it one step in the right direction every year, and hopefully the younger kids can build on that when we leave. So 10 years from now when we come back and are winning NESCAC championships, I can say that I was a part of changing the trajectory of the program.

What is your most memorable experience of your career?

We lost to Union 9-8 this year. While we did lose, it was a really, really close thriller. The few minutes in the fourth quarter were all I could have asked for. It was a nice night. You are with four of your best friends, and you are playing a tight, competitive game. That is what it is all about. It is not about whether you win or lose, but more about being in those high-pressure situations with all your best friends. 

What are your plans for after graduation?

I will be in New York City, and out of the nine graduating seniors in my class, seven of them will be in New York City. So I am excited to go with a lot of my teammates and see them on a regular basis.

Do you have anything on your bucket list?

I would like to go on a hike on one of the mountains around here. I probably should do that before I graduate. I haven’t been able to do as much hiking as I would like to.

Describe lacrosse in three words.

Lacrosse is fast, physical and unpredictable.

Describe your teammates in three words.

Loyal, hardworking and good-hearted.

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