MBA Student-Athlete Leads Men's Lacrosse To National Prominence

Subscribe to RSS Feed

Global Public Health graduate Maxwell Pierce ’21 was drawn to Dominican University of California by its intimate campus and ideal class size. Now, he’s also helping to put Dominican on the national map on the lacrosse field thanks to recent wins over Stanford and the University of Oregon.

Led by Maxwell, the Penguins men’s lacrosse team opened its season in February with back-to-back home wins over Oregon and Stanford in seemingly David vs. Goliath match-ups in terms of enrollment. Maxwell was named the national player of the week in Division I in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) and Dominican is ranked No. 23 in the country in the most recent MCLA coaches poll.

“It brings a lot of pride knowing we are this tiny 1,800 student school in Marin County, and we can hang with these giant Division I teams that everyone has heard of around the world,” says Maxwell, who is now an MBA candidate. “Everyone knows Stanford. Everyone knows Oregon. It’s a really nice feeling to be able to play them – and beat them.”

The Penguins on March 5 played host to 15th ranked University of Southern California (USC), with a student population of almost 50,000, on Kennelly Field, providing the Dominican team with another chance to make its mark.

“It is definitely an appealing factor for the MCLA and a small school like Dominican to be able to go against these gigantic schools,” he says.

Maxwell heard about Dominican during his sophomore year at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland. He was being recruited to play lacrosse with the Penguins by Sammy Vogel-Seidenberg, who was then in his second year as Dominican’s men’s lacrosse coach. Once Maxwell and his father visited campus for the first time, they were hooked by the low student-to-faculty ratio in the classroom and the opportunities for personal and professional growth. They knew that at Dominican, Maxwell would make connections and enjoy personal attention in both the classroom and as a member of the lacrosse team.

“Not having a big 300-person lecture hall where you only meet a TA was really appealing, as was the proximity to home,” Maxwell says.

Though Maxwell was initially focused on a career as an athletic trainer, before the pandemic hit during his junior year he took an epidemiology class with Dr. Brett Bayles, a Global Public Health professor and scientist in the School of Health and Natural Sciences. Inspired by Dr. Bayles and Dr. Michaela George, another GPH professor, Maxwell last year researched and produced his senior capstone entitled “Wildfires, Climate Change, and Land Use Change In California and Its Effect on the Prevalence of the West Nile Virus.

“That epidemiology class kind of sparked the interest in Global Public Health. It was cool,” Maxwell says. “It was challenging, but I could figure it out, so it was rewarding.”

Maxwell, who also was taken by a pair of sports psychology classes with Dr. Ben Rosenberg, figured out how to succeed in the classroom and on the lacrosse field at the same time. In addition, he added an internship with Marin County Health and Human Services that evolved into a role in the Emergency Operations Center for the county helping its COVID response team. Through it all Maxwell learned the value of time management.

“It’s the best life skill you get. Dominican does a great job of helping us get internships and encouraging us to get jobs,” Maxwell says. “Doing that on top of being a student-athlete and having work that’s like almost three full-time jobs at a time, so you have to be able to prioritize and organize yourself and remember to at the same time that we are student-athletes not athlete-students.”

Road trips for lacrosse games are time-consuming as well. The team recently returned from games at Western Michigan University and the University of Minnesota. However, those long trips validate Maxwell’s decision to come to the Dominican and achieve the academic and athletic rewards. That is a recruiting pitch as well for Dominican’s new women’s lacrosse program, which starts play next year.

“We made one trip to Dallas to play SMU and TCU,” he says. “We were playing in the shadow of TCU’s massive football stadium that was like the same size as our entire campus and we beat TCU and that was awesome. And we are this little school that no one there had ever heard of.”

Where big dreams can come true. Maxwell last month became only the second Dominican lacrosse player, joining Garrett Teagarden ’20, to be named as a national player of the week. With an extra year of athletic eligibility awarded due to COVID-19, Maxwell, who is now called ‘grandpa’ by his teammates because he is “the ripe old age of 23,” entered the Barowsky School of Business to get his MBA degree with a concentration in healthcare and leadership. That will come in handy whether Maxwell becomes an athletic trainer or an epidemiologist.

“Athletic trainers have a very one-on-one impactful level and you can help a team,” says Maxwell who is planning to attend graduate school after Dominican.  “As an epidemiologist you can be helping more of a community. It can be more of a greater good type of thing. Your research and your work will effect more people.”

You May Also Like