Asking Questions to D1 Defenseman Kelson Connors that we all think about

by Trenton Gafner

Name: Kelson Connors

University: Detroit Mercy (NCAA DI)

Position: Close Defense

When did you start playing lacrosse and what position did you start at?

I started playing lacrosse in 6th grade with Army Ants and the Grand Blanc youth program. I was a two way midfielder and took face offs from time to time.


When and why did you switch to a long pole?

I transitioned into an LSM when I started playing for True Michigan, but after a few years I fell in love with close Defense and started to learn the ropes around Junior year of high school. 


What do you like the most about playing close defense and would you rather play LSM with your background as a middie?

Out of all the positions I have played on the field, I enjoy close defense the most. Being able to see the whole field and watch plays develop sitting on the wing and pipe is something I am getting better at each and every day.


During your recruiting process what were you looking for and why was Detroit Mercy the right fit for you?

Detroit Mercy was a perfect fit for me from the beginning of the process. I started talking to Coach Kolon my Sophomore year of high school. I fell in love with the culture within the program after one visit. Quickly, I saw myself fitting into the Detroit setting and knew I wanted to be a part of such a great program that was not too far from my hometown of Fenton.


What was your first practice like with Detroit Mercy?

My first practice at Detroit was like nothing I had expected. It was fast paced, physical, and mentally challenging. It took a while for me to get acclimated to the style of play but after a short while, I felt I fit right into the Detroit mentality that everyone carried on campus. 


What was your first thought about what you had to work on the most to get playing time at Detroit Mercy?

From the beginning I knew there was a lot of work for me personally to be done to see the field at Detroit. Playing D1 lacrosse, there are a lot of changes you have to make in your life not only on the field, but also off the field. Changing my diet, work ethic, and overall, how I carried myself, needed to be worked on. Fortunately, I was able to make the adjustments needed to succeed and learn from amazing role models that stood before me in the depth chart. I was able to use them as role models and set goals for myself throughout the process of seeing the field.


When did you become a starter at Detroit Mercy and what was the grind like to make that happen?

I became a starter this year (2022 season). There were big shoes to fill after Sam McClain & Alex Akins had graduated. Taking what I learned from them and applying it to my game the past three years helped me along the way. I was happy to be named a starter this year, but there is more to work on and I am learning more and more and strengthening my IQ of the game with each opponent we face.


Covid affected us all but can you give us your thoughts looking back on how that time off may have helped you personally?

Looking back on COVID, I was able to take a step back from the game with the break that everyone had in 2020. What I got out of that tough time was strengthening my relationship with friends and family and remembering what was most important to me and realizing all the support I had around me to finish my college career and be the best player and leader I know I can be.


Your team has played some great teams this year, can you talk about a couple of the match-ups that had and the things you had to do to prepare?

Playing one of the hardest schedules in Detroit Mercy history was no joke. Our out of conference schedule was challenging as we took on teams like Ohio State, Notre Dame, High Point and Michigan. Joining the new A-Sun conference with teams like Utah, Air Force, & Robert Morris was just as competitive and challenging as the beginning of the season. A few matchups that I was challenged by the most were the Kavannaugh brothers from Notre Dame, Brandon Dodd from Air Force, and Asher Nolting from High Point. Preparing for these matchups is no different than any other. Although these kids were big names in the lacrosse community, it is important to study and prepare throughout the week as much as possible. Breaking down film with Coach Hayes and my roommate Jack Watsic helped me understand tendencies to help me on the field during these challenges. In the moment just realizing why you are out on the field helped me too with many years of hard work prior to the match ups.


You became a captain this year, what did that mean to you and what new responsibilities did that bring on for you?

Becoming captain of a D1 program has been a goal of mine since I first started playing sports in general. Being able to communicate and motivate my brothers around me is something that I take pride in as a person. Being a captain, it was important for me to establish relationships with everyone on the team and check with their day to day challenges and mental health. I really enjoyed establishing a great relationship with the coaching staff, as well. This helped my confidence throughout the season and made me realize that there is so much more to lacrosse than just playing in games or practice.


You are coming back for your 5th year with a young team, what are you looking forward to the most?

I am honored that Coach is allowing me to come back for my fifth year to help lead and guide these young guys to succeed. I am excited to learn more about the guys I am surrounded with each and every day. I want to carry on the legacy and hard work of all the guys that came before me. They took me under their wings, and now that I am the old guy it is time for me to give back what I have learned in the last four years. 

  

Thanks for your time Kelson and good luck heading into next season!