Tom Blackney of The Program addressing the Mount Saint Mary College Lacrosse team. (Photo courtesy of

by Steven Fabrizio

On Fri. and Sat.,  Sept. 5 and 6, the Men’s Lacrosse team took part in “The Program,” a two-day ordeal that helped to build both team leadership and team character.

Eric Kapitulik established the Program in 2008 to help teams build unity among players and to find the best leaders of that team. The Program has worked with some of the top schools in the country in varying sports including Oregon, University of Miami, and Alabama.

The journey for the team started in Hudson Auditorium where they met Lead Instructor Tom Blackney, a former Marine machine gunner and current Marine reserve scout sniper, and Joe McNamara, a Marine Officer. The two men told the athletes the ethos of The Program and let them know that they were going to be very tired the next two days.

They were then out on the field warming up for the day. This didn’t look like a warm up but that’s what they called it. During the warm up the team had to run sprints and at The Program the main thing to know is that “we do one more.” So each sprint was 21 yards, 41 yards, 61 yards, 81 yards, and 101 yards.

The athletes had to split into five groups, each group having a log and a sandbag. Each group had to have two people run out with the sandbags 41 yards, pass it to the next person, and run back. At the same time the rest of the guys had to hold the log up in the air or at their shoulders depending upon what the instructors said. The mission was to do it as fast as possible and the athletes set a high goal of one minute and 30 seconds. They missed that goal by four seconds, but its better to aim high than play it easy.

The next day at the pool the athletes were given the task of treading water with sweatshirts on, removing them, holding them up, trading sweatshirts with someone else, and then putting their sweatshirt on. Seems simple, but on the contrary it’s quite difficult.

After that, Tom and Joe talked to the team about what they went through and let them know that they had seen some real improvement.

Junior Jack Capetola was given a t-shirt that is impossible to buy or get anywhere else because the shirt is given exclusively to the one teammate who shows the most leadership throughout the two-day program. This shirt is not given out every time The Program happens; out of the 210 schools they will work with this year, only about 120 will be given a shirt.

The two days were hard, grueling, and a lot of people did not move much the next day but all-in-all it was what this team needed. They needed one thing to bind this group of men together and that’s just what The Program did.