Trent University Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Mark Farthing Reflects On Fostering Leadership Throughout His Career

Mark Farthing | Head Coach | Trent University Men's Lacrosse

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Everyone is the leader of their own life and own situation, and we work to empower our players and equip them with the tools necessary to lead themselves a successful and fulfilling life. 

Mark Farthing

Head Coach

Trent University Men's Lacrosse

× The interview with Mark Farthing was conducted via a typed conversation. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.

Tell us about your role as Head Coach of Trent University's Men's Lacrosse. What does a typical day look like for you?

First of all, I want to say that I love coaching and running the Trent University Men’s Lacrosse team. To be coaching at my hometown University is a dream come true.

My role really entails everything and anything conducive to winning and producing young men our program can be proud of.

When I first started coaching the team my responsibility was leading the team’s defensive unit, and planning out our defensive schemes we would use – and that was it. Things have changed dramatically since then.

I do all of the typical things you would expect a Head Coach to take care of – recruiting, scheduling, practice planning, player development planning, watching film, building scouting reports, etc.

I also handle fundraising, purchasing, and picking out our equipment. As social media is such a large part of recruiting and staying relevant, I have driven into graphic design so I am able to maintain our Instagram account.

This is all of the surface-level stuff. Now – what is more important than anything…is the relationships. This is what weighs the heaviest on a day-to-day level, or any level.

Relationships are the number one thing that drives our programs. Relationships are created through interactions we have, but also decisions that are made for the program, the effort put into the program, etc. E

verything we do is always affecting our relationships, and with my position of Head Coach with Trent University’s Men’s team, this is what I focus on the most. At Trent we care about our players and staff, more than we do about any play that they will make on the field for our lacrosse program. 

A Could you also tell us about your role as Founder And Head Coach of Green Machine Lacrosse?

Green Machine Lacrosse is something I have always wanted to do. It is a company I have created in my hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. Our vision statement is “Empowering the Lacrosse Family”. We do literally anything that will do exactly that.

To date, we have run lacrosse clinics, private lacrosse sessions, and also a lacrosse league for kids through the pandemic which had over 100 players!

We just got started last Summer and have already worked with over 120 local players in an effort to warm them up to our beautiful game, and allow them to experience the benefits of sport as a whole!

We work with players who are just beginning to learn the game, right up to players who are playing at the university level, or in the NLL.

As a crucial part of enjoying lacrosse is having a properly strung lacrosse stick, we also offer lacrosse stringing materials, and mesh, to ensure lacrosse families are able to play our game with a stick that “works”.

I am the operator of the company and am responsible for doing everything that has been mentioned above. I also have built the website which our company operates, and maintain our lacrosse clinic scheduling software.

The day-to-day requirements of the company really depend on the season. Last summer I had worked 4 days a week (after my regular full-time job) to run clinics. Last fall we were working 4 days a week running the aforementioned lacrosse league. And at this time I am working on business development, and planning our next steps.

Green Machine Lacrosse has never been based around profits, and we are looking for ways to provide additional value to our families as we move forward. 

Strong leadership is one of the most important factors involved in the success of a lacrosse program, especially when developing young players. What does leadership mean to you, and how can it be taught to up-and-coming players as well as athletes playing at the university level?

Leadership is extremely important for the success of a lacrosse program as you have mentioned, and even the success of our players at an individual level.

Everyone is the leader of their own life and own situation, and we work to empower our players and equip them with the tools necessary to lead themselves a successful and fulfilling life. 

Leadership can be taught in many ways. Mentorship and experience, I believe, are the most beneficial.

Experience can be gained in a hands-on approach being involved on teams, experiencing different situations, etc., but can also be learned through reading books on these types of topics.

Personally, I love reading books written by NCAA basketball coaches on their experience leading young men and elite programs, and developing young leaders in the process.

This is a great learning tool for me, and one I use to then implement into my own practices.

You have an impressive personal background in lacrosse, including two Mann Cup championships with the Peterborough Lakers (MSL) and two Baggataway Cup championships with Brock University’s Men’s Lacrosse team (CUFLA). What did you learn about leadership during your time playing high performance lacrosse, and how are you able to transfer what you learned as an athlete to your current coaching career?

A lot of what we do at Trent University, as well as other coaching positions I have held, is just little bits and pieces stolen from a whole bunch of other coaches, programs, sports etc. all put together!

Being involved with four national championship teams as you have mentioned gave me a fast-track of experience in terms of watching elite leadership in action. I learned that leadership is not conducted solely from one person, but more something that is embedded into the culture of programs.

Great leadership fosters a team of leaders. A leader is anyone who is willing to serve the team above themselves, and do the right thing for the group they are leading. Leadership is embedded into a lifestyle, but also something that escalates in large moments.

I have learned you cannot choose when and when not to be a leader, and that leadership is relied most upon in times of turmoil or uncertainty.

You can tell the mood of any program, the mood of any team, by simply speaking to one of their leaders. Leadership, culture, success; they all fit right together!

What do you think are the three most important characteristics of an effective leader?

From my experiences and what I’ve been able to learn about leadership, the three most important characteristics of an effective leader are:

  1. Selflessness
  2. Capability
  3. Tenacity

How have you learned to handle adversity throughout your coaching career?

It really depends on the adversity we are speaking on.

We lost by 3 goals in the National Championship last season. That was tough and could be seen as adversity. One of our leaders, Nick Chaykowsky, who is currently enjoying an excellent professional lacrosse career, booked out our local sports pub 2 days later and we got through it as a team.

Sharing stories about the good times we had together, and hearing from the members of our program what it meant to them to be part of this program and the effect it has on their lives, brought the real picture back into perspective.

Speaking of the real picture, and real adversity – one of our players, Johnny Lynch, had battled cancer three times while being a member of our lacrosse program.

Watching the strength which Johnny persevered through these times, and eventually (after all 3 times) watching him win All-Canadian honours for the best at his position in the country was enough to get us through any other adversity we may be having. Adversity? What adversity compared to that!

Jaelyn Terrion Jaelyn's Final Thoughts

Mark Farthing, Head Coach of Trent University Men’s Lacrosse team, uses his impressive background as both player and coach in the sport of lacrosse as a tool to support the next generation of well-rounded athletes. His experiences gave him a first-hand view of the importance of leadership in sport, and what it truly means to be a leader. To Mark, leadership is embedded in culture, which is an important aspect of success. He has been able to take what he’s learned about leadership and translate that into various lacrosse programs that focus on building meaningful relationships and allowing individual athletes to learn the necessities of success, both in sport and in life. Mark has been able to lead the Trent Excaliburs to success, including a recent Baggataway Cup showing in 2019, by replicating what he has learned throughout his career watching elite leadership in action. Taking it a step further, he has also been able to translate his experiences with leadership into Green Machine Lacrosse, proving himself even more as a strong leader in the Peterborough lacrosse community. 

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