Hog alum goes ‘Lacrosse the Pond’ to play and coach in England

Jack Woerner at Lyme Park in Stockport, England.

Thanks to the efforts of HSU alumni like Jack Woerner, Humboldt lacrosse players continue a tradition of sharing the game wherever they go — both foreign and domestically.

After three years at long pole with the Hogs, Woerner joined the “Lacrosse the Pond” program in 2016, which offers US and Canadian students the opportunity to pursue a masters degree in England while playing for university lacrosse programs and competitive club leagues. For the past two years, Woerner has been playing and coaching in one of the hotbeds of European lacrosse — Manchester, England.

Woerner wore the purple and gold kit of the University of Manchester for one season while earning his post-graduate degree, and also playing for the local Timperley Lacrosse Club. After completing the M.A. program, Woerner briefly returned home before heading back to Manchester to coach for another six months.

Originally from Petaluma, Woerner came to HSU in 2012 after transferring from Santa Rosa Junior College. A two-time team captain, Woerner played on one of the Hogs’ most successful teams in 2013, sharing the field with some of the most decorated players in Humboldt history including three eventual MCLA All-Americans.

When not working on his lacrosse game at HSU, Woerner was probably at Moonstone Beach, the Trinity River or playing frisbee golf at Mad River Pump Station 4 Disc Golf Course with his teammates.

“Team chemistry was a huge part of our success the first year I was in the club. Beach outings, playing disc golf, just hanging out helped us all get closer and be a true team. It makes everything about being on the lacrosse team more fun,” Woerner said. “And I’d add to future Hogs: make sure you’re doing everything you can to be a better lacrosse player and teammate — and have fun!”

Jack Woerner with Timperley Lacrosse Club in Manchester, England
What’s lacrosse like in the UK?

Lacrosse in the U.K. is getting bigger, especially in the Manchester area. Lots of guys that play on the national team are from greater Manchester. There’s always a few Americans on the bigger club teams that come through LTP or LDO programs (i.e., lacrosse development officer, what I’m doing now). But the English guys are good. The rules are bit different so the games go a bit slower (no time limit on clears, no over and back, no shot clock), but that’s also helpful as the teams are typically only 15 guys.

Can you talk a little about the ‘Lacrosse the Pond’ experience, both academically and sport-wise?

‘Lacrosse the Pond’ was really helpful in finding me a spot to live and generally just helping with anything you needed coming into the U.K. They also get you in touch with clubs in the area so you can play for your university during your MA and play in a (typically) more competitive club league. As far as academics, I loved my time at the University of Manchester. Great facilities, good teachers, great social scene. I’m still good friends with people from my program. The great thing about getting an MA in the U.K. is the timing as well. It can be rigorous but everything is done after one year.

Do the locals know anything about the game?

I coach in schools during the week and it’s not an entirely well-known sport. Lots of folks haven’t heard of lacrosse and if they have, they’ve never seen it. It’s typically played in more posh all-girls schools. Soccer (football), rugby and field hockey are definitely bigger, but lacrosse is growing into the mainstream.

What’s the best part/worst part about living abroad? Do you call potato chips crisps now?

I do call chips “crisps” now and fries “chips.” Comes with the territory I guess. The best part about being the U.K. is traveling and seeing new things I wouldn’t see otherwise. I love going to places like Glasgow and Edinburgh, and I can do that over a weekend. It’s pretty awesome. The worst part can be the lack of trees and nature. There are nice parks and national parks outside the city but coming from Arcata with the redwoods everywhere, Manchester is a bit of a shock.

What would you tell someone if they were thinking about going to HSU?

I would say take advantage of the beautiful places around you because there aren’t many areas like Humboldt County anywhere else in the world. The trees, the ocean, the river, it’s all so amazing and those places are some of the things I miss the most about HSU. I would tell someone specifically looking into playing for the Hogs that it’s an awesome experience but, as is the case with most things, you get out of it what you put into it — both from a social aspect and lacrosse-wise. If you show up to practice every day on time, hit the wall every day, go to the gym, and do the things to be a better lacrosse player, it elevates the club and your fellow Hogs should do the same.

What’s your favorite lacrosse moment?

My favorite lacrosse moment was beating UC Santa Cruz on April 20 my first year with the club. Spencer Knutson bagged the overtime winner and it was just an epic day. Great weather, the amazing field at Santa Cruz, beating our rivals in an intense game. Couldn’t ask for a better lacrosse moment.

What’s lacrosse mean to you?

Lacrosse has always meant new opportunities to me. I didn’t make the baseball team my freshman year in high school, so I played lacrosse instead with my best friend. I instantly felt more comfortable and like I had found my sport. Then at HSU, I instantly had a group of friends and teammates I clicked with and I am still great friends with to this day. It was an opportunity to go somewhere I’d never been before and do something completely new away from home, but also have something I knew and loved in lacrosse. And then when the ‘Lacrosse the Pond’ opportunity came up, I knew it was another new opportunity to travel, play more lacrosse and get the MA degree I wanted. I met my girlfriend in Manchester and now I get the opportunity to coach internationally. Lacrosse has made all that possible.