Wednesday, February 10, 2016

UNC Hall of Famer Tom Haus

UNC’s All-American Defensemen and Hall of Famer Tom Haus 
UNC's 1986 NCAA National Championship team
I don’t remember much from my first game in a Syracuse University jersey in March of 1984. I know we won and I held my own against UNC players. But I clearly remember the dominating play of Hall of Famer and UNC defensemen Tom Haus that day. Tom was a big thick guy, about 6’2’’ 195 and he ran like a deer. One of his college teammates tells me he was a “terrific athlete and ripped but I never saw him lift weights at UNC.”  Haus wore heavy sweat pants and a pair of blue canvass Converse high tops. Haus covered Hall of Fame attackman Tim Nelson (Nellie) and stripped him of the ball and started fast breaks—I believed he scored one or two goals that day. Hause was striaght up nasty as a player! He ended his career at Carolina as a three-time first-team All-American and three-time Defenseman of the Year—still the only person to do that; Nellie did the same at the attack position. “The guy didn’t care about lacrosse and never really worked hard at it” says a former UNC teammate. “He was great at lacrosse all his life but it didn’t mean the world to him. He did not go hard in practice but he was a gamer." When UNC won the championship in 86 it was Haus that shut down Hopkins Hall of Famer Brian Wood in the semi-finals and UVA Hall of Famer Roddy Marino in the finals. He was inducted in the National Hall Fame in 2005 and UNC retired his #13 jersey. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Passion, Practice, and 10,000 Hours

1978 Croton Harmon vs Walter Panas at Army’s Michie Stadium
When I was in eighth grade my physical education Don Daubney, a University of Rhode Island grad, taught a soft stick and soft ball lacrosse unit in the Spring. He followed that up with a boys 8th grade summer rec program that lasted about three or four weeks that I joined. The summer program culminated with a game against the Lakeland/Walter Panas rec program. Like my first game at Syracuse against Carolina, I was both scared and thrilled at the opportunity. The exposure and opprounity was critical to my lacrosse career. Just learn about the experience of an outlier like Bill Gates and you will see that exposure and opportunity are critical one's development. Gates logging 10,000 hours of practice on computers at a very early age in life. Malcolm Gladwell will tell you there is no mastery without passion and10,000 hours worth of practice.

Excerpts from Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, The Story of Success:

Interview with Malcom Gladwell on Outliers: [Listen Now 4 min 31 sec]

How I Improved My Stick Skills: [Watch Now 4 min 2 sec]

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Schools, Sports and Academic Rigor

Coaches new to a school, be sensitive to the academic demands on your student athletes.  I suggest coaches speak to the seniors on their team and get their assessment of how much time they can expect students to be able to dedicate to activities such as practices, weight training and conditioning, and watching films.  Some schools have larger reading and writing expectations then others. Some schools give more group work then others which requires meeting with one's team members in that group outside of class and often during typical times in which athletic teams hold practice. Be open to letting your student athletes come to practice late or leave practice early so they can meet with their groups and/or with instructors during office hours. Let me close with suggesting that you make the podcast I published on strategies for getting good grades from a college professor's perspective. Every instrucor is different but there are some principles that are parallel the matter what class your taking or US school.  

Strategies For Getting Great Grades: Listen Now [21min 13sec]

Coaching Series:

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What Makes A Good Coach? [Listen Now 52 min 50 sec]

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Business of Lacrosse

1978, Freshmen Croton Harmon High Game at Croton Point Park. Bill Laemel (Left and in the back ground on the side line; click to enlarge image), Me, Fred Opie (center), and Hank Vanassalt (right). The thought of Hank lose on the field back then with a long stick in his hands is a scary movie. Ed McMan was our freshmen coach. He was Nick Padula’s side kick and a great guy to play for.

In late 1970s Westchester County, there were no Herman's World of Sporting Goods (went defunct in 1993) Model’s, Sport’s Authority, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or any other sporting goods stores selling lacrosse equipment. In fact it wasn’t until my junior year in high school 1979-80, that Laura Lee Sport’s in Ossining (then located in Arcadian Shopping Center) and the Lacrosse Barn in Yorktown that I go to a retail store to purchase a lacrosse stick and all the related paraphernalia. Now you see sport stores, department stores, and others retailers carrying sticks (and equipment often in abundance).You even see lacrosse equipment commercials on television (not to mention lacrosse sticks showing up on Law and Order and in GQ magazine). In addition, you can buy any kind of lacrosse stick you want on the internet—custom made and strung—and get it shipped to your door step in 2 to 3 days. Folks we’ve come a long way since 1976.

Interview with Ousmane Green, Yorktown's Lacrosse Tradition

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Student Teaching and Coaching

Photo of me in the spring of 1986 as an assistant varsity lacrosse coach at my high school, Croton Harmon warming up the goalies at Croton Harmon. 

I am an avid goal setter. I recall in my senior year at Syracuse University (SU) in 1985, I set my sites on becoming a public school teacher and lacrosse coach in a district where I could have an impact. I was an education major at SU and needed to complete a year of student teaching which I did in my public school district, Croton Harmon district in the fall of 1985. I received mentoring as a student teacher in grades k-12 and I coached each season during my year in Croton. My education courses at SU, coaching and teaching that year in Croton, and three years of full time public school teaching helped me a great deal when I later became a college professor. Unfortunately the average prof, particularly the stars, have had little to no experience teaching before taking their first job nor courses on class management and basic pedagogy. 

The Croton Diner and Croton Point:

Croton Point Park History:

Monday, October 26, 2015

Custom Sticks and Cuse Lacrosse Culture

That's Tim Nelson's 1983 season custom head with a classic Yorktown, most likely little brother Tom strung, Brine Superlight II with wide strong  traditional pocket.
Organized lacrosse head dying sessions using a white plastic head, Rit fabric dye, and downing dozens of hot Buffalo chicken wings in the process represented a part of lacrosse experience in the 1980s. There was definitely an unspoken competition over both who could eat the most wings and who could come up with the most aesthetic multi-colored design with your name, number, and somehow fit it all fit on a small surface. A Syracuse 80% of the team loved traditional pockets. The difference was over the size of the holes. Yorktown guys like big holes maybe 5 and West Genee players always used small holes say 8 or more. The island guys at SU, and we didn’t have a lot in those days, were right in the middle. Upstate players used Brine superlight II; about four of us however used STX. 

I grew up on Army lacrosse and coach Dick Edell. As an attackman in high school I patterned a lot of my game and gear after All American attackmen Frank Giordano (Port Washington, Army), Greg Tarbell (LaFayette, Cobleskill, Syracuse) and Mike O’Neill (Massapequa, Hopkins) In fact I wore # 7 after seeing both Tarbell and O’Neill play at West Point. I purchased a STX Barney with a traditional pocket and the same funky gold shaft that O’Neill used in game I saw at the point. I often wondered how many young players emulated my gear and game as they watched me play.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Good Mentor Can Make All the Difference

 Glatfelter Hall, Gettysburg College
Everyone needs a good mentor.  Mike McTighe served as an important mentor in my life who helped me learn the academic ropes. Mike did more than talk he demonstrated his confidence in my intellectual ability by asking me to co-teach my first college course with him—a comparative religious history course on Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. In addition he offered to write letters of support for my application to Ph.D. programs. Shortly after the course started, Mike told me that doctors had diagnosed him with cancer. He asked me to continue teaching the course alone, and assured me that I could handle the class. I was 28 years old at the time and that semester, I served as an interim dean, adjunct professor, and defensive coordinator for the Gettysburg Men’s Lacrosse team. I was reading like crazy to stay ahead of my students plus over preparing because of my internal fear that someone would find out that I was a fake, a guy who struggled to spell basic words and spent twice as much time reading the same material as my students. And as for the lacrosse, as was the case at Croton Harmon, Herkimer, and Syracuse, Gettysburg lacrosse during my tenure was good but nothing like the teams that have made the final four over the last ten years. More on the players I coached during my time there from 1989 to 1992

Lessons from My Graduate School Experience:

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