By BRIAN JENNINGS
Matt Gundersen’s mother graduated from Florida Southern College, but that was only part of the reason why he inked a National Letter of Intent to play lacrosse for the Division II Moccasins next year.
“The coach, Marty Ward, is a great guy,” said Gundersen. “He’s energized and loves the game, as well as his entire coaching staff. I just get excited to play for him.”
After the starting Blue Knight midfielder stayed overnight on the campus with the team, Gundersen fell in love with the school. When he was offered a spot on the team, he took it.
Gundersen said he felt that the program wants to win every game, which reassured him that he was in the right place.
“When you see that, you kind of get a sense that this is a competitive school,” said Gundersen. “They’re contending for a NCAA Division II championship every year. That’s why I wanted to go there.”
For Gundersen, it came down to Florida Southern and the Division III Rangers of Drew University in Madison University. He has family just 20 minutes away from Drew University, but Florida Southern still made more sense.
“It’s not that I didn’t like the coach or the team,” said Gundersen. “The school itself didn’t give me that same feeling that Florida Southern did.”
Gundersen visited Florida Southern multiple times and even participated in lacrosse camps there. But once he found out that the school didn’t have a football team, his mind was made up.
“When I’m sitting around doing nothing, I’ll find myself with a lacrosse stick in my hand rather than a football,” said Gundersen. “I realized that lacrosse is the sport that I want to work the hardest at and make myself the best at.”
Although the heavy hits and big, leaping catches draw many people to football, Gundersen said the action in lacrosse is what has his heart set on playing at the collegiate level. Southington coach Ron Chase said that Gundersen’s decision to play at Florida Southern was an excellent one.
“It’s an up-and-coming Division II program,” said Chase. “He’s in Florida, and it’s a great school academically and athletically. He’ll get a chance to really play earlier in his career than a lot of student-athletes do when they go off and play in college.”
Chase said that Gundersen’s work ethic and cerebral ability will make him a great player at the collegiate level.
“He has a great work ethic in the weight room, classroom, and on the field,” the coach said. “He’s a smart kid. He makes good decisions on the field. To play college lacrosse, you have to be a thinker out there. You have to understand the game and see things develop before they do. That’s something he definitely does.”