For a lot of athletes heading off to college, part of the anticipation and excitement of the scholastic journey is to participate in collegiate sports.
However, for Kevin Brereton, who grew up in Alamo, graduated from Monte Vista High in 2005 and headed off to Concordia University, he accepted the fact that his new school had no lacrosse team. Well, he actually only accepted that for two years, when he finally decided to do something about it.
For a brief while Kevin contemplated changing schools in Southern California, so he could once again take up the sport he loved. However, Kevin was happy and settled into his sophomore year and decided he would do what any energetic and tenacious young man would do.
"After a lot of research and brainstorming, I decided the best option would be to start a lacrosse team at Concordia," said Kevin, and that's what he did.
The first person Kevin reached out to was his grandfather, Steve Jones, who along with his wife Lawery Jones, supported Kevin and his younger brother John, in all their endeavors. Growing up and having his grandparents living in the community, it was rare that "Bop and LaLa" missed a game of Kevin or John's.
Steve supported all the kids on various teams throughout the years. So, it was no surprise that without much hesitation, he decided to make a contribution of $10,000 to get a team started and flew down to Irvine to meet with his grandson and Concordia's athletic director. Then the work began for Kevin and building a new team.
"In August of 2007, we plastered posters across the whole campus, inviting anyone interested to come play for our new lacrosse team, and about 15 students attended," he said. None had ever even held a stick in their hand. But the Concordia University Irvine Eagles were born!
"Our plan was to have a great time and we played against teams such as Cal State Fullerton, Biola University, California Lutheran University and Pacific Lutheran and even though we didn't have a win all season (they were accepted into the league)," Kevin said.
In fall 2008, many players returned to play, but they still lacked a coach. Kevin had been acting as player, coach, fundraiser and president of the club, but relief came through a high school lacrosse coach from San Juan Capistrano named Will McMinn,
"After telling him we couldn't pay him anything and had no players with prior experience, he was still interested. He started coaching for us in the spring of 2009 and was recruiting right away and was able to recruit a few transfers for the spring. That year we recorded one win," said Kevin, who said by the next year, they had several more recruits and many more wins.
In the fall of 2010, John decided to leave Texas Christian University to pursue his lacrosse passion at Concordia and finish his degree in biology and pre-med there. Kevin was thrilled to have his little brother on board, and the team continued to thrive.
"That year we made it to the playoffs for the first time and all the way to the championship game where we lost to Cal State Fullerton, our biggest rival to this day," said Kevin.
Kevin has remained connected to the team even after graduation, and this year the lacrosse team competed against some of the top national teams and achieved the rank of fourth in the nation. Facing Cal State Fullerton in the championship game, the team beat Fullerton 17-2, which gave them an automatic bid to the national championship game once again.
"Although we lost again in the first round, we had accomplished the most thus far in the team's short history," said Kevin.
Kevin will never forget how grateful he was when his grandfather, despite battling cancer, made it to his year-end banquet in 2009, the year Kevin graduated.
"He stood up and said, 'I have been in the investment business my entire life, and this team is the best investment I have ever made.' "
"Coming from a 50-year veteran stock broker, that meant a lot to us," said Kevin, who has been an assistant coach since graduating.
Contact Caterina Mellinger at around- firstname.lastname@example.org.