Meet Florida Southern’s Brad Fretti and Dan Krispinsky
This article is part of a series. We took a fall tour to visit with our Florida born impact players at Florida’s NCAA schools. Our first stop found us at Florida Tech where we spent some time with Andrew Conley and Coach Ryan McAleavey. Next we headed down I-4 to the beautiful campus of Florida Southern College. There we spoke with Bishop Verot graduate Dan Krispinsky and Brad Fretti from St. Thomas Aquinas as well as Head Coach Marty Ward. FLN – Coach, when I called you and said that I wanted to sit down with you and one or two of your Florida born players who you think will have an impact in the 2013 season right away you said, “Brad Fretti and Dan Krispinski.” What is it about these two guys? Coach Ward – “Florida is known for having athletes, tough committed athletes. That’s Brad Fretti, who I recruited from St. Thomas Aquinas HS in Ft. Lauderdale as a midfielder. He came in as a freshman as a short stick midfielder. Then in the fall we had some bumps and bruises and lost a couple of guys. One day at practice Brad came onto the field and I threw him a long stick and the next thing you know he was starting every game on the wing as our LSM. He took that opportunity and pushed it and himself to become a top contributor to this program.” “Dan came in here as a freshman who we brought in as a middie and a face off guy. He took some draws that freshman year. He was another work horse kind of guy, real gritty on the ground balls and he was just constant at the X, never really up and down. But then he made a big jump between his freshman and sophomore year and changed how he approached himself as a lacrosse player and a face off man. Improved his mentality about the program and really bought into what we are trying to do here. He really set himself apart from the other face off guys we had in our program last year. We had an injury to our senior transfer who had been all-conference the year before and Dan stepped in there and never looked back. For a long period of time he was top ten in Division 2 face off percentage as sophomore and I think that momentum is going to carry into this year.” “I think both of these guys are great ambassadors of the sport here in Florida.” FLN – Well Dan and Brad, last season you guys came out and dropped the opening game of the season to Tampa and then got stronger as the year went on. You ended up revenging that loss to advance to the Deep South Conference Championship game. How do you guys think that opening day loss impacted the rest of your season? Dan –“I think it made us stronger as a whole. That loss was tough for us but we saw it as a challenge to make it to the play offs to play them again. We did that, we proved to them that we are actually the better team and we beat them in the play offs when it really mattered.” “I think it really helped us realize that we have got to make some changes and that it humbled us a little bit. I think we came out there a little too hot. But after that terrible loss we finally stepped up and realized that there were changes that had to be made. And that’s what we ended up doing and we got stronger at the end of the season. I could not be happier with how we came back…how we responded to that loss.” Brad – “Yea, I think we came out a little too cocky and it made us realize that nothing is going to come easy to us during the season. We realized we were going to have to keep working hard, start working harder in practice and later in the season some guys figured it out.” FLN – Both of you guys are coming off of some great sophomore seasons. Dan you finished the season almost 60% at the X, where do you go from there? What kind of personal goals do you have for yourself? Dan – “I just want to make sure I become a better player overall, I mean there is always room to improve. I would like to get to 65% or even higher. The sky is the limit. I want to come back with a really strong attitude and work to become the best face off player that I can.” FLN – Brad, You had 34 or 35 caused turnovers last season as a sophomore. I mean, that’s awesome. What do you do next? Brad – “I really want to get better with my stick. I’ve only been playing LSM for two seasons. I want to improve, to keep getting faster, stronger, and more athletic. With me on the wing and Dan doing face-offs I think that can be a pretty good combo.” FLN – Tell me about your team goals this season. Brad – “Conference championship for sure.” Dan – “We think we have a good chance to go past that. Especially with the 8 team national tournament we are going to have now.” FLN – Brad you came in from St. Thomas Aquinas where you guys constantly played tough schedules. How do you think playing that type of schedule helped prepare you for the next level? Brad – “Crowley was my head coach my senior season and he had been at a state championship program before that so I think he knew how to prepare. I think he prepared me very well and even helped put me in touch with Coach Ward and that’s why I ended up here.” FLN – Do you still follow St. Thomas Aquinas lacrosse? Brad- “Yes, when I go home for the summers I still help out at the camps and stuff like that.” FLN – Dan how do things compare with Bishop Verot? Dan – “Oh it’s different. Bishop Verot was a club program when I played there. Our team had some talent. We went undefeated and played in the final four for the club championships against teams like Tampa Jesuit, Dwyer. They were talented schools, but not like Saint Andrews at that high of a level. But during the summer I would play for Team Florida and I would play with a bunch of those kids from St. Andrews and St. Thomas…some of the best teams in the state. So playing with my travel teams I think I got a good feel for the game and played some of the top talent.” FLN – We are glad that those teams merged into the FHSAA, it really showed that some of those club teams really did have lots of talent. They had been a little underrated and some of them, like Jupiter, came out and did really well. Well coaches love this question; do you guys have any games circled on your schedule this year? Brad and Dan – “Tampa” Dan – “We play them Feb 8th.” Brad – “Catawba too, they beat us in the conference championship. We want to play well against St. Leo too.” Coach Ward – “That’s a cool thing about playing in Florida. You have a chance of winning the unofficial “State Championship” and the conference, and then you never know what’s going to happen after that. It makes a coach feel good hearing the guys talk like this because all of the teams in Florida are good now. Leo and Tampa are obviously very good competition for us and we start the season with one of those guys and end the season with the other. It’s a nice way to book end the season and in Florida there is a lot of bragging rights go with that. Obviously the best team from Florida is going to play for the Deep South championship and we hope this year that team is Florida Southern and we can just continue to push.” FLN – Coach how is this year’s freshman class looking. Coach Ward – “You know I think this group is a little bit different that some of the classes in the past. This is just a really wholesome group of guys a good group of guys. You know, kids who were brought here for the right reasons. A lot of those kids are here really pushing themselves trying to get a chance to see the field a little bit as freshmen. We have a couple of guys who are really going to be pressuring some of the older guys for those positions on the field. It’s exciting to see that from freshmen coming in but there are always some growing pains with the young guys but to tell you the truth that is what we want to see. We don’t want our freshmen coming in and just blowing the doors off of everybody, we want to know that our talent we have here is very very good. The freshmen know they have got to work for anything they get and they know these guys have been here and been through the battle and they have been doing this for two or three years. They know what it’s like to travel up to North Carolina and back on an eight hour bus ride. They know what it’s like to be on the road in a not –so-friendly environment on a Friday or Saturday night and come out with a big win. These freshmen don’t know that yet. But I think they have the right mindset and the talent…it’s a very talented group no doubt. I think it’s a solid group top to bottom. I think the meat and potatoes of our team is in our junior and sophomore class this year. I see some freshmen stepping up this year and we have a small class of five seniors. It’s tough to have such a small class of seniors but those guys are going to play a vital role this year as well.” FLN – Dan are you looking forward to playing with your brother? Dan – “Yes, my brother has early committed to come here so I’m really looking forward to that. I got to play with him back in high school when I was a senior and he was a freshman as well. It’s really cool and I’m really looking forward to it. He‘s a great player and he had a real break out year this year at Verot and I’m really looking forward to him coming to Florida Southern.” FLN – Guys when you’re not working hard for your coach and hitting the books, which I’m sure you are staying on top of, what are you doing with time? Dan – “I fish a lot. I love to fish and I fish a lot of the local Redfish tournaments back home. I really enjoy getting the boat out on the water. We have been pretty successful and we have placed in a few tournaments.” Brad – “I like to fish a little too but normally when I’m home I have a few friends who play baseball in college and we will get together and hit some baseballs or play basketball.” FLN – Coach, what other Florida talent are do you have coming up? Will you continue to pursue local guys? Coach Ward – “Yes, we have some more Florida talent here at Florida Southern. Right now we have Joel Brown out of Paxon here who I think was a much underrated player who is doing well for us. I think that the job these guys have done and the positions they have now as juniors and potentially as junior leaders on this team shows a lot about Florida talent. These Florida guys come through and you can rely on them. You can rely on them at a high level and I think that it’s great for the state of Florida to have guys like Brad Fretti and Dan Krispinsky doing at a very high level here at Florida Southern.” “There are Florida guys all over the country that are playing at a high level also. So I think these guys are great ambassadors for the sport and someone that young guys can look up to. I also think it shows it doesn’t matter where you are from that as long as you are getting the job done and you’re working your butt of the whole time you are going to get the rewards. I think that is another good lesson.. Nothing is given to you. That’s one of the things we say here a lot. You have to earn everything every day. I think these two guys really epitomize that. They are Florida Southern Lacrosse through and through and it’s a pleasure to coach these guys.” It was great to sit down with these guys. I have never met anyone who enjoys coaching lacrosse any more than Coach Marty Ward. He definitely represents the next generation of young head coaches in the NCAA quite well. Our next stop was Saint Leo where we had a chance to sit down with Winter Springs alumnus Matt Obermeyer and Coach Brad Jorgensen. Look for that article at the end of this week.