Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting used to new-look LEC

On Saturday, for the first time in the program's short history, I had the chance to cover the Lake Erie College football team.

The Storm put up a good fight, holding a lead in the fourth quarter against nationally ranked Hillsdale (Mich.) only to fall, 35-26.

Personally, although I'm thrilled to see it come to fruition, even seeing Lake Erie on the gridiron is still taking some getting used to.

As a 2002 graduate of LEC, I was on campus right before the boom period you see today, during which Lake Erie is a full-fledged NCAA Division II program.

Let me be clear. I loved my time at Lake Erie. It's a great school that provided me a great education, and I met some good people, including some hard-working student-athletes. LEC afforded me a once-in-a-lifetime chance to travel through England for two weeks. Getting a college degree from LEC was one of the proudest moments of my life.

All that said, that period was a transitional time for the school to be sure.

Many of my communications classes back in the day had less than 10 people. Walking to class, you might see between 5-10 people on the outside around campus. I never had a class on a Friday, and it wasn't because I chose not to go. The student body was an eclectic mix of commuters and a tightly knit group of resident students at a school still known primarily for its equestrian program. My graduating class of around 110 was the largest to that point in school history.

None of that is to knock the school at all. It just goes to show you how far Lake Erie has come in the last decade.

So while it had to be disappointing Saturday to come up a couple of fourth-quarter stops from an upset of a nationally ranked team, just having a football program at all in the position to do something like that is a fantastic step forward. Not to sound old or anything, but back in my day if football at Lake Erie came up in discussion, it was essentially sarcasm as a pipe dream. That vision didn't seem to be there.

If you need to know just how far Lake Erie has come, ask me or anyone else with whom I went to school. In the sports sense, which seems to have galvanized the entire campus as well, it really is night and day between 2002 and today.

- Chris Lillstrung


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