It’s Friday afternoon, and after a long week of games, practice and lifting, any other team might have a sluggish practice that day.
“Let’s go, let’s go,” first-year boys’ Lacrosse coach Erik Krum yells as he runs to his truck. “I want to see sticks moving all the time. Let’s hustle.”
The coach returns triumphantly from his car with a lacrosse bag thrown across his shoulder. No clipboards and broad explanations of drills here. He jogs out onto the field, lacrosse stick in hand, and begins to warm up with the players, going on to be an active participant in almost every exercise done in practice that day.
“We love it,” forward Paul Rodriguez ’18 said. “He brings so much energy to the drills, and it really helps us understand what he wants us to do when he comes out and does it for us. Also, it helps us feel like he is one of us, and he understands game situations, so we trust him more when he’s yelling from the sideline.”
When Krum was first set to take over the team, there was some concern from older players about having a change in leadership heading into their senior season.
“We knew [Head Coach Alex] Weber was leaving before the end of last season and were notified about Krum early in the year,” team captain Ian Watts ’16 said. “I was a little concerned, as many of the players had been with Weber for two or three years, and didn’t know if we would be able to adapt in time. In the end, the transition went seamlessly, and I’m glad Krum is my coach.”
Krum’s new approach has panned out well for the Wolverines thus far, as they are 5-1 overall at this point in the season, losing only to Mission League favorites, Loyola.
Krum came to the Wolverines after establishing a youth lacrosse club called the Santa Monica Dragons, which many current Wolverines were once a part of. In fact, Krum was actually notified about the job opening by Harvard-Westlake students on his club team.
While there was a period of adjustment for the new coach, it was mainly logistics based, and he hasn’t changed his approach to the game that served him well in both his playing and coaching career.
“Some of the challenges were creating our own game schedule,” Krum said. “I’ve never created a high school game schedule before. Getting to know the ins and outs of the school. How to get in the hours, work within the budget was all new to me.”
Krum inherited a team that had a solid base of young talent and went 11-8 last year under Weber.
“Coming here and having a team that went 11-8 was awesome,” Krum said. “They had about four losses that were within about a goal or two. Those games just come down to the last few possessions, so I thought that focusing on the basics, stick skills, being in shape, would help us close out those games.”
The changes he has made have been more geared towards bringing an air of professionalism to the team.
“The boys have definitely started lifting more than last year,” Krum said. “On the field, we’ve tried to heighten the intensity of practices. We want them to be two hours, as hard as you can go, so when you get to the games, it’s the same as when they’ve been practicing. We do this breakdown foot fire in our warm up and we do this clap in our dynamic warm ups, and its all just stuff to help bring the team together and make them a closer unit.”
Krum’s intense approach has quickly won over the players, who are excited to compete for a Mission League title.
“The level of drive and teamwork this season is the best I’ve seen in all my years of [Harvard-Westlake] lacrosse,” Watts said. “Without the raw talent of many other schools, we’ve had to fight as a team for every victory. Everybody is willing to fight for the man next to them and leave everything they have on the field.”