A new era of ‘grit’ for Detroit Mercy women’s lacrosse

When Madeline Dugan was named head coach of Detroit Mercy Women’s Lacrosse on June 26, 2023, the feeling was fresh, but she was no foreigner to Calihan Hall. The Rochester, Michigan, native served as an assistant in 2022, a team that featured over 60 percent of the Titans’ current roster.  

Dugan also spent stops at Adrian College as a player where she reached the NCAA tournament three times, as well as a coach at Wartburg College, Adrian and the head coach at Trine University for five years. Midwestern lacrosse has been her whole life, and her program is ready to tackle its schedule, embracing this result-focused, hard-working attitude that has made other programs she was a part of successful.  

The Titans finished the 2023 campaign with a 3-11 record, but a large part of that group is back in Detroit with the roster being made up of 12 seniors.  

When asked about these seniors, Coach Dugan expressed her gratitude for this core group’s decision to stick around, saying, “These girls want to play for Detroit Mercy, they had the chance to leave many times, but they didn’t because they love this school.”  

By doing this every member of this group has an opportunity to “put in the groundwork for what they want this program to be,” Dugan added.  

Detroit Mercy competes in the Horizon League for most sports they sponsor, but the Women’s Lacrosse team competes in the Mid-American Conference (MAC), a league with some member school's enrollment totaling over 30,000. The Titans finished fifth last year, but coach Dugan sees her squad being able to compete right away, telling me the league is “truly anyone's conference.”  

While talking about this team and what she expects of them, Dugan kept answering with “we,” as in her loyal staff and her program, not the word “me,” signifying a coach that is here to misguide you or lie to you prioritizing their own success. She also referred to the term “grit,” like the tune echoed around the metropolitan area started by Dan Campbell the head coach of the Detroit Lions.  

Grit can start programs, but to build a program you must be able to sell it. How does Dugan sell Detroit Mercy? 

 “I'm not going to hide anything, we’re just real, we’re true to who we are and what we want here,” Dugan said.  

Facilities don’t deter her staff either, as the work that is put in by her team can do the talking.  

Dugan said, “All 45-pound plates weigh the same whether they have a logo on it or not.”  

It is something that is very similar to the ideas Dan Campbell instilled by embracing the history of this city and what it means to be successful here, rather than capitalizing from the flash and resources that other institutions have. 

The Titans open at New Hampshire on Feb. 17.