The Discipline to Win
When sports performance coach Jake Alvarez asks Washington College athletes to train harder, run faster, or eat better, they can see before their very eyes how that type of discipline pays off. The man timing their agility drills or checking their lifting form is a world-class competitor—heading to Israel this summer to play in the international lacrosse world championship games. He knows what it takes to excel, just as he recognizes the obstacles they might be facing.
Alvarez’s own collegiate lacrosse career sputtered and stalled at Ithaca College in upstate New York. He had been playing lacrosse since the age of 10, but he didn’t make the cut in his freshman year and rode the bench as a sophomore. Alvarez quit the varsity team in his junior year, started playing club lacrosse, and switched his major from psychology to exercise science.
“I felt like I wasn’t able to develop at Ithaca,” Alvarez recalls. “I wasn’t training hard, and I had my priorities skewed. At that point in my life, I wasn’t ready to fully commit.”
That all changed when Alvarez, who describes himself as “decently talented,” decided he wanted a second chance. He committed to the training—the speedwork, agility, conditioning, and strength training—that would help him develop into the most athletically fit person he can be. Today, Alvarez is playing the best lacrosse of his life.
“Most athletes decline after college,” says the 25-year-old. “I have to get a lot better between now and July. That’s what I think about every day. Many of these student-athletes are more talented than me, but I have the mindset that no one will work harder than me. I’m in the gym every day for two hours to make myself better. Once I’m tired, I don’t stop. That’s the only difference. I’m not the most talented player, but I train super hard.”
He’s gearing up for training camp in June, when he’ll meet his teammates—all “heritage players” whose parents were born on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. After two weeks of practice, the team will travel to Israel to play against teams in the Central America division, which includes Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Mexico.