Tag Archives: Interviews

NCAA Lacrosse: Michigan Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Jennifer Ulehla Discusses “Building A Championship Culture” During 2014 Season


Michigan Women's Lacrosse Banner

The University of Michigan’s first women’s lacrosse team arrived on campus nearly one month ago (Aug. 28) and has spent the past 10 days practicing as a team. Head coach Jennifer Ulehla, who spent the 721 days prior to Aug. 28, working diligently in her office and on the recruiting trail without a team, now has 28 talented and energetic players ready to be molded into a championship-level team.
In addition to getting acclimated to the many demands of being a college student, the 28 freshmen that make up the team’s roster are also adjusting to being collegiate student-athletes. When the Wolverines take the field on Sunday (Sept. 29) at Loyola University for their first fall ball games, they will have just 11 full team practices under their belt. Michigan will face Loyola at 10 a.m., directly followed by a matchup with Johns Hopkins at 11:20 a.m.

Michigan Women's Lacrosse Head Coach Jennifer Ulehla

Michigan Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Jennifer Ulehla

On how practice is going so far … “We’re a week and a half into practice now and we’re really making great progress. What I’ve said to the team is, each and every day we want to come in and work at 100 percent. We need them to compete at a level that is greater than what they’re used to in order to prepare them for the games that we’ll be playing this fall. Each and every day we’re learning and getting better. Our staff has been pleased with their attentiveness, their willingness to learn, their comradery and their work ethic. It’s always a challenge when you have 28 freshmen, to help them understand how hard they have to work to compete at this level. This weekend is going to be a great opportunity for them to get a feel for what it takes, not only to play at the top Division I level, but also how they need to compete in practice each and every day to get better.”

michigan_lacrosseOn the players adjusting to life as collegiate student-athletes … “Being part of Team One and establishing a program from the very beginning is challenging — it’s incredibly exciting — but it’s also very challenging. These young women have embraced this challenge and presented themselves in an incredibly mature manner. They are showing great character and have represented the University of Michigan and our women’s lacrosse program in a way that we’re proud of. They’ve done a great job dealing with the pressures of being a team of 28 freshmen, coming to college, being away from home, and having to adjust to new professors and an academically strenuous schedule, as well as the strength and conditioning aspect of our program, which is at a completely different level than in high school. They are getting to know our support staff and learning to take advantage of all the wonderful resources we have here at Michigan. We’ve had some great feedback from professors and all the other individuals that touch this program and we couldn’t be prouder. Like any program, there are times where mistakes are going to be made, but what I really love about this group is that they’re willing to admit to those mistakes and learn from them. That’s how we’re going to get better each day on the field and it’s how we’re going to get better off the field. It’s a process and we’re excited to continue to see them grow each and every day.”

On the team getting its first game experience against quality competition … “Being able to play two nationally ranked teams — Johns Hopkins and Loyola — is going to be a great opportunity for us to learn and see what we have been able to accomplish over the last two weeks. With all freshmen, we’re certainly going to take our bumps and bruises, but we’re going into it making sure that our focus is on our effort. We just want to get out there and compete and get an idea of where we are and what we need to work on from here. It’s a scrimmage, it’s not our first game, but it feels as if it’s been forever since I’ve actually coached a game. I’m really looking forward to having my staff out on the sidelines with me and coaching these young women who have been working so hard. For us, it’s going to be a day to remember. We’ll learn a tremendous amount and it will give us a bench mark we can use going forward. It will be an exciting day.”

On her expectations for the team this fall … “Going into the fall, our staff’s expectations are twofold — 1. to begin to build the championship culture that we want here at the University of Michigan for the women’s lacrosse program; and 2. to develop, individually and as a team, the skills that we need to compete at a top Division I level. We want to help each individual recognize their strengths and their weaknesses as a lacrosse player and how they can continue to grow and contribute to our team’s success. In addition to that, one of our main focuses since they arrived on campus has been for our players to get faster and stronger. Our conditioning and lifting, along with game experience in the fall, will help prepare them to compete at a high level in the spring.”

On going back to Baltimore, which is her hometown and home for many U-M players … “This couldn’t come at a better time. The team has been here for several weeks now and being able to spend some quality time with their parents, family and friends will serve them well at this point. For me, being able to go back to my hometown of Baltimore for our first scrimmage, representing the University of Michigan, is incredibly special and something I’m extremely proud of.”

On competing in the first fall game on her birthday … “After the game, we’re going to this great tailgate that our parents are putting together for our first scrimmage. We’ll be back in Maryland, and it’s my birthday, and if you’ve ever read any of our ‘101 Ways to Get to Know Women’s Lacrosse’, you’ll know that on my birthday my favorite cake is not birthday cake — it’s CRAB cake! I’m really hoping that all the parents out there are reading this and will remember that I love crab cake. I don’t need 45 candles in the crab cake though, one will do. I would be okay with them singing happy birthday to me with a crab cake (laughing).”

For more:  http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/w-lacros/spec-rel/092713aab.html

Major League Lacrosse: Denver Outlaws Head Coach Jim Stagnitta Talks About Trading Brendan Mundorf To Bayhawks For John Grant Jr. (Video)


Denver Outlaws Head Coach Jim Stagnitta talks about trading Brendan Mundorf and Brian Megill to the Bayhawks.

Denver Outlaws 2013 Media Guide

Major League Lacrosse: Denver Outlaws Head Coach Jim Stagnitta Tells “Lacrosse Magazine” That Team’s 2013 Success Based On The Veterans: “If They Buy In, It Comes From The Top Down”


Denver Outlaws 2013 Media Guide

“It’s like any other [college] team – you’re only as good as your seniors,” he said. “If they buy in, it comes from the top down.

Denver Outlaws Head Coach Jim Stagnitta
Denver Outlaws Head Coach Jim Stagnitta

With guys like Lee Zink and Brendan Mundorf and Jesse Schwarztman, and you bring in a guy like Anthony Kelly, they’ve been in the league for a while and they are at the back end [of their careers], so they know what it’s like and what it takes. They saw an opportunity to be successful and have fun doing it.”

Jim Stagnitta’s approach to coaching the Outlaws found its genesis when he was a post-collegiate club player after his days playing at Penn.

“The thing that I remember back after college when I was playing club, it was just pick up ball and you went out and played,” he said. “I missed the structure and what came from playing on a team that shared the ball and had a system.”

By Jac Coyne

By Jac Coyne

With this is mind, Stagnitta wasn’t just going to settle for running out the best players or the ones with the most impressive pedigree. He was going to put together the best team. That sometimes meant that he had to have long conversations with players in hopes of getting them to adopt roles that they previously weren’t ask to play. Stagnitta singles out guys like midfielders Drew Snider, Justin Pennington and Justin Turri as players that have accepted perhaps a less glamorous role for the betterment of the team.

And there were also guys who just didn’t fit or had a higher trade value than they did in the lineup.

“We made some changes that appeared drastic,” Stagnitta admitted. “And even before I walked through the door, Tony moved some guys for different reasons; they just didn’t want to be out there or they wanted to be closer to home or they had different reasons. One of the first things I said to Tony, and it was even if he was a big-time player, was if he doesn’t want to be here, get rid of him. I wanted people who wanted to be here because it’s not easy to be here. That part helped us early on from a role standpoint.”

Stagnitta admits that his philosophy would have been difficult to implement without the tacit approval from the veteran players on the roster, leaning on an old college coaching maxim to illustrate the point.

It also came down to Stagnitta and his staff, which includes B.J. O’Hara, who coached the Rochester Rattlers to an MLL title in 2008 and coached Hobart for 12 seasons, and long-time college coach Stan Ross, establishing a level of credibility with the players. At the college level, coaches “hold all the cards,” as Stagnitta describes it, so the coaching can be more vocal and, if necessary, punitive, especially with playing opportunities. With the limited amount of prep time – MLL teams usually get one full practice and a walk through per week – it’s less about drilling players on the game plan as it is establishing a belief that they are in good hands.

“You need to be honest and fair and have them believe that your decision-making is consistent and is in the their best interest,” Stagnitta said. “It’s all about credibility. If you have credibility, they will listen to you. We know all these guys. We’ve recruited them as college coaches at some point and they know that we’re going to put the time and effort in and know enough about the game that we’ll do the right thing.”

In many ways, it’s not dissimilar to a college coach making a pitch to stud player during the recruiting process. This fits nicely into to Stagnitta’s concept of bringing a lot of the college game to the pro level – something that seems anathema to the contemporary professional athlete.

“In some ways, we’ve changed the way people approach the league and look at the league,” Stagnitta said, whose Outlaws on Saturday became the first MLL team in the 13-year history of the league to sweep the regular season. “No one really felt like you could do that with a team and have them play in a system and share the ball and do the things our guys do.

“We have great players on our team, but they are selfless when it comes to doing the things you need to do to win. They also understand that if they are going to play for us, they do need to play within a system and they do need to attend that one practice that we have. You can’t just fly in on game day and play. They know their defined roles. Again, I’m not sure if that was commonplace in the league, but we’re successful because the guys bought into the system.”

For more: http://www.laxmagazine.com/mll/2012-13/news/081313_stagnitta_bringing_college_philosophy_to_outlaws

NCAA Lacrosse: Loyola Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Charley Toomey Talks About Move To Patriot League, Recent Success And Outlook For 2014


Loyola Men's Lacrosse BannerQ: Why is the Patriot League a good fit for the Loyola men’s lacrosse program?

Loyola Men's Lacrosse Head Coach Charley Toomey

Loyola Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Charley Toomey

A: The Patriot League is a great academic fit for Loyola University.  We will be aligned with institutions that have similar standards for their student athletes. I have a great respect for the Patriot League teams and look forward to creating new rivalries within the conference.  Having coached at and now living near Annapolis, I am especially excited about the new local rivalry with the U.S. Naval Academy.

Q: The program’s recent success has been well-documented, with five NCAA Tournament appearance in the last seven years and the 2012 Division I national championship. What has been the recipe for success?

A: First, I would say that what our recent teams have done is really build on the successful foundation that was laid by alumni and coaches that came before them. Loyola has a rich tradition in lacrosse having participated in 19 NCAA Tournaments and 3 NCAA Final Fours.  The National Championship in 2012, it would never have been possible if not for everyone who came before us. That being said, I am fortunate to coach at an institution that invests resources into our teams allowing us to be successful.  The Ridley Athletic Complex exemplifies the University’s commitment to our lacrosse program.

Q: What challenges does a new conference schedule create for you and your staff?

A: Certainly it has changed things, but we look forward to building these new rivalries. We were accustomed to being in the ECAC where we might have to get on a plane several times a year to go play at places like Denver, Ohio State or Air Force, but now we have conference opponents who are much closer geographically, so that will ease some of the travels we’ve had. At the same time, we took a good look at our non-conference schedule and made sure that we are playing the games that will help our strength of schedule and RPI. We’re fortunate to have some tremendous local games like Towson, Georgetown and UMBC — and add the Naval Academy to that as a Patriot League game — and we are looking forward to starting series with Virginia and Penn State this year. We were also able to continue what has become a great series and rivalry with Duke, and of course we are finishing the regular-season with our yearly game against our Charles Street neighbor Johns Hopkins.

Q: You’re a Loyola alum and have been deeply involved with the program since your days as a student-athlete. What makes Loyola such a special place to you?

A: Anyone that knows me knows that I hold Loyola very near and dear to my heart.  I feel very lucky to be the head of a program that has a chance to win a national championship year in and out.  Any student athlete that has spent time on our campus and had the opportunity to get to know the people that make up the Loyola community understand why this is such a special place.

Q: Seniors Joe Fletcher (First Team) and Justin Ward (Honorable Mention) were both All-Americans last year, and Fletcher was the ECAC Defensive Player of the Year. What are you looking for from them as seniors?

A: Joe Fletcher and Justin Ward are two guys who took big steps from their freshmen year to sophomore year, and they were big reasons we were able to win the National Championship in 2012.  Justin had a great season in 2013 season, leading our team in scoring as well as becoming our voice on the offensive side of the field.  Joe Fletcher is the best all around defenseman in college lacrosse right now.  Joe and Justin have a tremendous work ethic, are dedicated and excellent students.  They are guys who now will be some of the main voices in our locker room after we have graduated a large senior class. We will ask an awful lot of them, as well as seniors like Pat Laconi, Jack Runkel, Kyle Duffy. They will be our leaders on and off the field, and we’re fortunate to have high-character people like them in our program.

For more:  http://www.patriotleague.org/sports/m-lacros/spec-rel/081313aab.html

St. Margaret’s Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles Talks About The Critical Role That Booster Clubs, Athletic Directors And Parents Have In Hiring And Retaining High School Lacrosse Coaches


st margaret's lacrosse

St. Margaret's Episcopal Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles. OCVarsity.com

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles. OCVarsity.com

In part five of his interview with LaxBuzz, Glen Miles, head coach of the Nike/US Lacrosse West Region #4 Ranked St. Margaret’s Episcopal Boys Lacrosse program, discusses the important issues High School Athletic Directors and Booster Clubs must consider in hiring a Varsity Lacrosse Coach and staff in order to create a successful lacrosse program.

LaxBuzz:    What should high school Athletic Directors and Booster Clubs look for in hiring a new Varsity Lacrosse coach and their top assistants to create a culture and foundation leading to a successful program?    How do you define success at the high school level?

Glen Miles: “High School coaching in California is a very challenging proposition.  To run a successful High School program takes a lot of time, effort and resources.  These young coaches are attracted and convinced to take a coaching position because the “booster” club has promised how motivated they are to help the young coach navigate the process, and for the most part this is very true.”
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“Lacrosse parents and boosters are working very hard to help their kid’s lacrosse programs exist at the High School level. Unfortunately, I have heard too many stories from young coaches that have difficulty handling the parents who are not happy with them for one reason or another.”

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 “I feel like we beg these young coaches to come and coach our boys and then, the moment the young coach makes a mistake or has a challenge, the “parents” exert unrealistic expectations  on a very young man and simply just make it too hard and not fun for him.  At this rate and with this trend, we could have a problem.”

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“The alternative for these young guys is Club lacrosse.  Much like soccer, club lacrosse is growing and High School lacrosse is stagnating.  This is terribly unfortunate.  We need to reverse this trend immediately if we want to preserve lacrosse as a High School sport.  The parental problems is not as big an issue for club coaches.  As a club coach, parents can just leave and go play somewhere else.  High School does not work this way.”
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“My sense is that we can get these young coaches out here early but then the moment things get tough, they are out.  We are forgetting that they are young and that they need training and more importantly they need our grace and our patience.”
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“I think parents are leading the charge for lacrosse more than the athletic directors and that is why this is an issue.  Athletic directors are very capable of handling and training young coaches—they just need to want to.  This is an additional sport for an athletic director who was already overworked.”

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“For this reason, it seems the athletic directors are letting the parents help the High School coach navigate the process.  Unfortunately when it does not go the parent’s way they have great influence to make a change.”
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“We need to commit to these young coaches and teach them how to lead and how to communicate with all members—players, parents, and teachers.  Many young coaches are merely coaching the way they were coached and sometimes that is good and sometimes that is bad.  If its bad, it needs to be changed.”

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“Joe Ehrmann, founder of “Coach For America” and author of “Inside Out Coaching”, has a very unique coaching perspective that the athletic director at St. Margaret’s has embraced, and one that we at Victory are working hard to incorporate into everything we do.  Joe’s training is a great place for school administrators, parents and coaches to start in order to help create a culture of success.”
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“In the Coach For America model, success is measured 20 years after the players graduate.  Is he a man of integrity? Is he a good brother, husband and father?  If he is, then we succeeded.  As I mentioned earlier, winning is a by product of that success.”

St. Margaret’s Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles Discusses “Playing Time” And The Important Role Of Seniors On A High School Lacrosse Team


st margaret's lacrosse

St. Margaret's Episcopal Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles. OCVarsity.com

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles. OCVarsity.com

In part four of his interview with LaxBuzz, Glen Miles, head coach of the Nike/US Lacrosse West Region #4 Ranked St. Margaret’s Episcopal Boys Lacrosse program, discusses the role of seniors on a high school lacrosse team.

LaxBuzz: Many parents have contacted me over the years regarding playing time for upper classmen, especially seniors. There is a fine line between playing “the best” players, giving playing time to freshman and sophomores, and honoring seniors who have, in many cases, along with their families, put in eight years of sacrifice to get to this moment. This will be the last year of lacrosse for many of them. What is your philosophy regarding playing seniors? Is there an “honor code” in lacrosse that you honor seniors on high school lacrosse teams?

Glen Miles: “This is a very difficult issue and obviously very painful for the seniors who don’t get to play as much as they had hoped they would.  I believe coaches need to work authentically and empathetically love their players.  If kids feel loved and are able to put the goals of the team before themselves, this challenge can be managed.  This takes a very different level of commitment to each individual than many coaches are willing to give. “
 
“That said, I also believe high school sports are played and coaches should coach and make decisions based on what he or she believes will give the team the best opportunity to win.”
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“For me this means playing the players who have earned the right to play through hard work, love for their teammates, a commitment to the team and a passion to prepare on and off the field.”

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“For me playing time is not earned through longevity.  My seniors certainly get the benefit of the doubt if their performance is equal or close to an underclassman but not merely because they have been there the longest.”

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“I believe that if coaches truly “love” their guys that they will feel the pain a senior maybe feeling from a lack of playing and should empathetically help the player work through that challenge.”
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“There are many roles to play on a Varsity Lacrosse Team.  There are leadership roles, there are follower roles, there are scout team roles, and there are friendship roles.  If a coach is an effective leader, he can help each senior find a role that is rewarding to him.”

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 “Obviously this is a difficult thing to handle as a young man but I feel strongly that the community of “team” is the training ground for life.  Handled appropriately, every senior can feel great and grateful about being on the team whether that involves playing time or not.”
 
 

St. Margaret’s Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles Discusses The Importance Of Recruiting And Supporting Experienced Coaches To Maintain The Growth Of Western High School Lacrosse Programs


st margaret's lacrosse

St. Margaret's Episcopal Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles. OCVarsity.com

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Boys Lacrosse Head Coach Glen Miles. OCVarsity.com

In the second part of an interview, Glen Miles, head coach of 2013 CIF-Southern Section Lacrosse Champion St. Margaret’s Episcopal Boys Lacrosse program, talks about the importance of “experienced and dedicated” coaching in Western High School Lacrosse.

LaxBuzz: University of Denver Men’s Lacrosse Head Coach Bill Tierney has stated that it is critical for the continued growth and success of Western Lacrosse to have “high quality, experienced and dedicated coaches” (i.e. East Coast experience) to continue to take up positions with club teams and high school programs. Many top Division I players have been traveling back and landing at Western programs, but they lack the experience in coaching at top collegiate programs.

How do you see experienced “East Coast coaches” being lured to coming out west? Is it possible for top boys coaches to play MCLA or Div II or III college lacrosse at western programs and become top-level coaches?

Glen Miles: “Coach Tierney is 100% correct.  He has great interest in the California Lacrosse market.  Many of our highly skilled players will be attracted to Denver University for a variety of reasons.”

“First, he is a great coach, leader and mentor and he runs a great program.  Second, it is the closest DI program and if our players want to shoot for the highest level, it is a great place to go to school.”

“High quality coaching is very important.  Because we live in California and have arguably the most desirable climate on the planet, attracting great young lacrosse guys to California will not be too difficult.”

What will be difficult is keeping these coaches coaching High School Lacrosse.  It will not be difficult to keep them in California, but regrettably they seem to migrate toward club lacrosse and away from High School programs.”

“The reason for this is simple: the average High School coaching stipend is around $3000.  The job as it is structured right now is difficult for the little bit of money that they receive.  They are doing it for the love of the game and the love of the kids.  We can’t add additional stress to the job description.”

Booster clubs, steering committees and the like must be patient and be willing to accept some mistake as a young coach grows.  The guys that want to do this job understand that they must have a “real job” to make ends meet.  Sometimes their real job is lacrosse and sometimes it is not.”

“I think there are plenty of great coaching role models currently at MCLA, DII and DIII.  The issue of whether a young coach continues to grow is a factor of how committed we are to help him grow.”