8 min read

Mason Woodward: The Ultimate Teammate

Mason Woodward: The Ultimate Teammate

Sports serve as a microcosm of life. They teach you discipline and resiliency. Being part of a strong program will instill valuable traits such as accountability, leadership and loyalty. They can prepare you for hardships and teach you how to work towards goals. But, most importantly in my eyes, competitive team sports teach you one thing that is hard to get elsewhere: how to be a great teammate. Mason Woodward embodies the essence of what truly makes a great teammate.

about mason

You may be familiar with Mason Woodward. He has been one of the best players in college lacrosse over the past 5 years. He is a defender from Marquette that has had nothing short of an astounding career. He was awarded USILA 3rd team All-American honors in 2023 and will likely receive AA honors this year. Most recently, he was selected #8 overall, the 2nd pole taken, in the PLL draft to the Utah Archers. Mason is a local Baltimore native that I got to know early on in his HS career. Since then, he has blossomed into one of the best poles in lacrosse.

The Accolades don't do him justice

While Mason's accolades and recognition are impressive, they don't fully capture the essence of who he is as a player and person. Those who know Mason well speak of him with a reverence and respect that's uncommon for a collegiate athlete.

His coaches and teammates will tell you he is the best defender in the country. Of course there will be some (admitted) bias involved; however, there could also be some truth. His impact on the Marquette program has been massive. I would be surprised if any other player in the country impacted his team and teammates the way Mason did. This piece is going to dive into Mason as a player and teammate to shine some light on a college career that is worth highlighting. 

As a Player

Mason is a lefty pole listed at 6’2, 210 lbs. He moves well, has great strength, and has a stick like you would not believe. On the field, it is his stick and instincts that stand out to you more than anything else. I am not sure I have ever seen a pole with better ability to pick off passes and scoop ground balls than Mason. Mason averaged 4.44 GBs per game and 1.37 CTs per game throughout his entire collegiate career. This is insane. The only other player currently in lacrosse that I can think of with a similar ability to hawk the ball is Garrett Epple. For what it’s worth, Epple has averaged 1.55 CTs per game and 2.7 GBs per game throughout his pro career. He averaged 3 GBs per game and 1.24 CTs per game in college at Notre Dame as well.


My point is not to make this a comparison between Epple and Woodward, as I do not think their playing styles are all that similar. My point is that Epple is one of the best statistical defenders in lacrosse and anecdotally has one of the best sticks I’ve seen. He has had an extremely successful pro career, so I figured using his numbers as a baseline could provide some context. Woodward plays a mix of LSM and close while Epple is mostly close, and the modern collegiate game is much different than the pro game and college lacrosse 7 years ago.

Woodward is a playmaker by trade. Whether it is blocking shots, picking off passes, getting incredible ground balls, or covering top matchups, you will notice Mason on the field. As Marquette defensive coordinator, Jake Richards, puts it, "Mason's presence on the field is felt by both his teammates and opponents. His ability to make plays and disrupt the opponent's offense is unmatched." I must imagine every Marquette opponent had #77 circled on their scouting report. 

He Can Cover the Ball

What’s interesting is most players with a great stick can easily get pigeon-holed as an LSM, and this often goes hand in hand with a general stigma of not being great on-ball. I even heard this talk briefly around Mason as PLL evaluators were trying to assess him. Most of the mock drafts had him listed as an LSM, but really, he could plug in wherever you need. Coach Richards at Marquette alludes to the fact that Mason could cover any player in the country. He has played against Notre Dame and other top schools and marked players like Pat Kavanagh and CJ Kirst and done a great job. Marquette just asked more of Mason’s skill set, so only being a “cover guy” was not his role; however, it does not knock his ability to execute this role if needed. 


To me, this piece is especially important and separates Woodward from other highlight worthy poles. It eliminates the caveat of “yeah, but let’s see him play real defense”. Being a playmaking LSM can be extremely valuable even if you are vulnerable on the ball. The truth is that some fantastic collegiate LSM’s really aren’t all that great at covering the ball, and they may not need to be. I just want to clarify that Mason does not fall into this category. He can play the ball at X, take a wing, pick off a pass, get a tough GB and score a goal all the same. Very few players have this wide set of skills. Not to mention his strength and speed combo – he is extremely strong and moves well. He can match up with speed or strength.

Loyalty

This may be the single most admirable trait from Mason. Truthfully, one of the reasons Mason has not gotten more accolades and higher recognition is that he made a choice to stay at Marquette for the entirety of his career. He had options to leave. 
 
In the Summer of 2019, Marquette Head Coach Joe Amplo accepted the Head Coach job at the Naval Academy. Mason had just graduated high school, and his stock had skyrocketed. Other schools tried to poach Mason as is common in today’s recruiting landscape. Mason made the choice to honor his commitment to Marquette.
 
Throughout his 5-year career (his freshman season was cancelled due to Covid), Mason would have other opportunities to leave and transfer to more prestigious programs. One where he would probably start, make a massive impact, and be much more likely to be recognized for his abilities. Rather than 3rd team All-American and Honorable Mention, he would likely be a 1st or 2nd team candidate.
 
Obviously, I can’t predict what could have been, but that’s not too far of a stretch to believe. It is easier for evaluators to give players that have success at top programs more recognition. Not to mention, he could have had the chance to compete for a national championship which many players dream about. Mason chose to stay with his teammates and coaches at Marquette. I do not want to knock others that made these decisions to transfer; however, I do want to acknowledge that Mason had these options and chose to stay. This is worth noting. 

 

Leadership through authenticity & Humility 

“He’s the most humble and greatest leader I’ve ever been around,” remarked teammate and fellow defender Dave Lamarca. I interviewed Dave to get a teammate's perspective about Mason. This conversation really blew the door open for me on Mason’s impact. As a collegiate athlete, Mason demonstrates a masterclass in leadership through authenticity and humility. 

Woodward was a 4-time captain at Marquette over a 5-year period. In the Spring of 2020, he started all 7 games as a true freshman before the season was canceled due to Covid. The following year Mason was voted a captain as a true sophomore (RS freshman). He continued to serve as captain for 4 years. 

 

To be a 4-year captain, you must have something truly special about you. This alone speaks volumes about #77. When I asked his defensive coordinator, Jake Richards about this, he mentions the credibility and consistency Mason brought:
 
"You could never argue his credibility, and that is both how talented he was, but more importantly, how consistent he was in the way he acted. Every practice, every lift from the first second he's on campus, every weekend, every moment of free time, everything he did was, again, just to try to be the best player he could be, be the best teammate he could be." - Coach Jake Richards
 
Both Coach Richards and Lamarca echoed the themes of authenticity and humility. You could plug in a million positive buzz words about Woodward, but these two pop to the top in my eyes. His teammates respected how genuine and sincere he was, and it is his humility that has allowed him to blossom into who he is today. His humility has allowed him to form relationships with all of the other players on the team no matter what their ability or role was. This made the program better. He inspired others to be great.
 
"Mason being that example from the top was just infectious, and it allowed kids that didn't have the talent he had, didn't have the discipline he had to dream big and try to be like him. And all along the way, he just had his arm around him, letting him know how much he believed in them, and he just kept driving from the front." - Coach Jake Richards

Teammate's Story About Mason

On my call with Dave Lamarca he said this about Mason: “His big thing is communication and availability. He is always the first guy you call if you need something. He showed me how to be a leader and be there for guys.” He then went into a more personal example: “I strained my hamstring and had to do extra workouts with our trainer. We would go to the field and run sprints to test it out as I was recovering. Mason would always go with me and do the workouts. He showed us how much he cared about his teammates every day.” Dave credits Mason as the reason he stood up for captain (ie, gave a speech and put his name in) last year and why he will again this year. Mason makes his teammates better on and off the field. 

Teammate's Tweets on Mason:

Don't just take it from me on what to think about Mason; take a look at three of his teammates tweets leading up to/during the PLL draft.

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What's NExt

I fully expect Mason’s career to continue on an upward trajectory. He has the makings to succeed in any aspect of life he chooses. On the field, he is built for the pro-game and will likely be in the mix for one, if not multiple, national team runs. His leadership, work ethic and ability are the right tools for a long career in our sport.

For career aspirations, I know he has expressed interest in coaching, and I hope he does. He will impact the lives of many athletes in a positive way. If we can get more Mason Woodward’s in the sport of lacrosse, the game will be moving in the right direction. 

A career worth Writing About

Once again, I originally wanted to write this piece to give more recognition to an incredible defender that I believe deserved it for his on-field abilities. I knew Mason was a great person through my personal interactions with him. We’ve trained together, coached events together and worked together as Mason is one of our FCL NIL Athletes. Coach Jake Richards is a friend of mine and was always a huge advocate for Mason. So on a surface level I knew he was a special player and person. However, as I dove in a level deeper, I was blown away by the impact he has had on his coaches, teammates, and the Marquette program. He is truly a selfless leader, tremendous competitor and person that drives them around him to be their best. Mason is the ideal role model, teammate and player.
 

Check Out A Few Videos of Mason

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