Mike Plantholt: Selby Stadium
Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Mike Plantholt has quickly made his mark at Ohio Wesleyan. In his first season (2011), the Battling Bishops won a share of the NCAC championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs. By 2015, his team was setting school records, winning their first 18 games, advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament, and achieving a .947 winning percentage, the best in OWU history.
He says, “I’ve focused my whole life the past five or six years to make this one of the top lacrosse programs in the country.”
He’s succeeding. In Coach Plantholt’s first five seasons, his teams are 64-20 and have twice won the NCAC tournament. They regularly compete in the NCAA playoffs. And he has twice been named NCAC Coach of the Year.
Mike’s comfort zone is on the sideline in historic Selby Stadium. It’s no wonder. In four out of Mike’s first five seasons, the Bishops have lost no more than one home game. Last year they were a perfect 9-0 in Selby.
With a degree in psychology from Gettysburg and an MBA from Mount St. Mary’s University, Mike stresses the importance of academic success for his players.
“My goal as a coach is to help our student-athletes grow so that over the course of four years they become better students, better lacrosse players, and better people. I want them to succeed everywhere.”
Mike grew up playing in Baltimore, Maryland, where he says lacrosse is the unofficial state sport. He learned the game from his father, and when he reached Gettysburg College, he had an outstanding career. He was a 2-time All-American and 3-time all-conference selection. In his senior season, 2001, he was named Division III Defenseman of the Year after leading the Bullets to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III national championship game.
Mike says he grew up wanting to be a psychiatrist, and he majored in psychology at Gettysburg. “Psychology made sense to me,” he says. Now, he puts his training in team psychology to use keeping his players focused. He says early in his coaching career, he’d always try to prepare a great pregame speech, “something that would get the guys really fired up.” Now, he does that in practices, but not on game day. “I don’t want them to get too emotional. I want them to keep their eyes on the prize and stay focused.”
|A Passion for Liberal Arts
Mike attended a liberal arts college because, “I didn’t want to get lost in a big school. I wanted to go to a college where I’d get the full student experience and the full athletic experience. And I wanted to go to a place where the alums cared about the students.” He says those same characteristics hold true for OWU.
Coffee is an essential for the father of a newborn boy (Michael Jr., born in February) and a three-year-old daughter (Mary).
|East Coast Roots—Replanted
“Being an East Coast guy my whole life, I thought I’d never want to make a move to the Midwest. But when I came here, I fell in love with the place. My wife (Dawn) and I both really love the community here and the sense of family the department and alums provide.”
|All Points of the Compass
Mike and his assistant coaches log long miles in recruiting season. They focus heavily on the East Coast but span out across the continent. The current roster includes players from 18 states and provinces, from Cape Cod to California, Ontario to North Carolina.
|Historic and Raucous Selby
Mike says the great history and tradition—and the large seating capacity—make Selby one of the most unique D-III stadiums. “On game day, when our stands are packed, you can feel the energy. The atmosphere our students create in this stadium makes it a great venue. Our guys love playing here.”
|The Alumni Have Our Backs
Mike says the support of alumni has been crucial in helping to provide assistant coaches who can help in recruiting. “The OWU lacrosse alums have been very good to the program. We wouldn’t be where we are without their support.”
By Will Kopp