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Making the Hall of Fame: A Q&A with Brian Voelker

May 27, 2015

Drexel men's lacrosse celebrates its first-ever NCAA tournament victory by dumping Gatorade on coach Brian Voelker
Drexel men's lacrosse celebrates its first-ever NCAA tournament victory by dumping Gatorade on coach Brian Voelker

Last year, Brian Voelker led Drexel men’s lacrosse to its best-ever season, one that included a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) championship and a run in the NCAA championship tournament.

This year, Voelker will be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame for his career as a player. It was quite a career.

Voelker starred as a three-time All-American defenseman for Johns Hopkins University and made it to the NCAA championship once with the Blue Jays. He played with the United States national team, which won the World Lacrosse Championships twice.

Professionally, Voelker won three championships with the National Lacrosse League’s Philadelphia Wings. He served as team captain in 1998, the last time he won the championship with the team. Additionally, he played two seasons with the Long Island Lizards of Major League Lacrosse, winning the 2003 title.

Induction into the Hall of Fame is just the latest accomplishment in Voelker’s storied career that keeps going through his coaching. Drexel’s coach since 2010, Voelker has turned the team around into one of the NCAA’s more feared programs, leading the Dragons to their first-ever tournament appearance last year and both the regular season and tournament CAA championships.

Before Drexel, Voelker also put the University of Pennsylvania on the winning track and won a national championship with Princeton University while coaching the Tigers’ defense.

Drexel men's lacrosse coach Brian Voelker.
Drexel men's lacrosse coach Brian Voelker.

Voelker talked with DrexelNow about his latest achievement and reflected on his career so far.

 Q: What does it mean to you, personally, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Where does it rank in your accomplishments?

A: It's obviously a huge honor. I don't think anyone plays the game with the goal of making a hall of fame, but, when you stop, it's something you think about. It's a culmination of something that I put a lot of time and effort into, so it's nice to be recognized. I played on a lot of great teams, and won a good amount of championships. The championships and the friendships are the most important things to me from my playing career, but this is definitely a huge honor. 

Q: Did you think this would happen or was it out of the blue?

A: I guess it was out of the blue. I had been nominated a while back and didn't get in. So, honestly, I wasn't sure if it was going to happen.  

Q: Throughout your career you’ve been a defenseman or at least defense-minded. Do you think it makes it a little harder to get recognition when you’re a defense-first person?

A: It's probably a little harder for defensemen to get in. It's easier to quantify goals and assists, but I assume the Hall of Fame looks at more than that. I always thought I had the résumé to get in, so it's great that it happened. 

Q: You’ve turned a couple programs into winners, first Penn and now Drexel. Do you take pride in being able to do that? 

A: As a coach you take pride in your teams, and you just want to get the most out of them as you can. We had some really good moments when I was at Penn, and we've had some great ones here. I just want to keep winning and make Drexel the best I can.

Q: What was it like to see Drexel’s players in the NCAA tournament for the first time last year, which was something you’d done yourself in college four times?

A: It's awesome to see the joy and excitement in your players. The goal since I've been here is to win the CAA and to make the NCAA tournament. It was a huge accomplishment to do that last year, and it took a special effort. It was great, and now we have to work hard to do it again.

Q: How do you plan to celebrate making it into the Hall?

A: I've had a lot of people contact me, so it's great to hear from friends and old teammates. My family and I will probably have a nice to dinner to celebrate. When the ceremony happens in October, hopefully I'll get a chance to really celebrate with friends and family. 

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