By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/19/09
Richard Owens sees nothing but potential at Harriton High.
That’s why the veteran Philly coach has accepted the position as the head boys’ lacrosse coach for a program that has struggled in recent years.
Owens, a 1985 Episcopal Academy graduate, has been a head coach (at Shipley School), an assistant coach (Lower Merion, Chestnut Hill Academy) and a youth coach (Ashbee, of Lower Merion) in his career. A product of the highly successful Ashbee program himself, he is very familiar with Lower Merion Township and the talent available.
Harriton finished 1-10 last year in its first season of play in the powerful Central League. It was 4-14 overall. The Rams went 24-51 the previous four seasons as a member of the Del-Val League.
Owens is confident he can turn Harriton into a contender. One reason is the state-of-the-art field and facilities at the new campus, which is almost completed. Also, Harriton will pick up more students when the Lower Merion School District finishes construction with Lower Merion High.
“I grew up in Lower Merion Township and I am familiar with the program, and old enough to remember stories about the heyday of Harriton lacrosse,” said Owens, who was an assistant the past two years at Chestnut Hill. “They won three state titles in the 1970s and made five appearances in the title game.
“It’s a great institution as far as academics go, and Lower Merion Township has a great feeder program with Ashbee. With the new school construction – a fantastic weight room and a top-notch field – we will have some excellent facilities.”
Owens recently held a parents’ meeting when he explained that building a successful lacrosse program means a commitment from all involved.
“This is a chance to take the blueprint and put it into action,” he said. “It’s not just the X’s and O’s. You take the work in the off-season and try to implement conditioning and indoor ball and get the kids on summer travel teams, as well as doing the things little differently.
“Our practices will be about instruction and teaching and a lot of hard work. That’s what I told the kids and parents at the meeting.”
Owens believes there is more than enough talent in the school district to build a winner at Harriton. He hopes to draw players who now are playing in the L.E.A.P.S. program under former Lower Merion great John Christmas and Eric Gregg – two friends of Owens. Also, Owens welcomes the challenge of competing in the Central League, a league renowned for its lacrosse talent.
“There is a matter of the potential from what’s in the school district, the Ashbee program and both middle schools,” Owens said. “There are more kids playing lacrosse through the L.E.A.P.S. program.
“If Harriton can attract some of the players from different programs, we have the potential to improve. The Central League is one of the top two leagues in the state. Any coach would relish going up against the best teams.”