By Craig Forsythe
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/19/11
Making the switch from a club team to Division III will be a challenging task for Arcadia University during the 2012-2013 season.
But new head coach Drew Delaney, a graduate of Franklin & Marshall, is up to the task. After serving as assistant coach for four different colleges, Delaney is ready and excited to become the first head coach at the small school located in Glenside, Pennsylvania.
While serving as an assistant coach at Limestone College, located in South Carolina, Delaney helped the Saints win two Conference Carolinas Championships and to three NCAA Tournament Semifinals from 2007-10. Starting his career with a year as an assistant coach at the Western Reserve Academy in Ohio in the 2003-2004 season, Delaney helped the team become the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association’s national runner-up.
After WRA, Delaney was an assistant for three years at Washington and Lee University, helping the team reach No. 3 in the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association poll. Last season was Delaney’s lone season as an assistant coach at Washington College in Maryland.
Here are Delaney’s thoughts about coaching at AU and the goals he hopes to accomplish while head coach of the Scarlet Knights.
What do you think will be the toughest challenge becoming a head coach?
Delaney: “I am prepared to be a head coach, but the transition will be a unique experience. When I was an assistant coach, my work was a reflection of the head coach. Now that I am the head coach at Arcadia, the team’s performance is under my name and it’s my responsibility to guide the team to success, on and off the field. For better or for worse, it will be a reflection of me.”
Coaching in both Maryland and Pennsylvania, is there a difference in the way the game is played or the student-athletes’ approach to the game?
Delaney: “At the college level, I don’t think there is a dramatic difference in the style of play between different regions, the way there might be at the high school level. College coaches are recruiting nationally and it is our job to blend the different styles of play together. That being said, each coach puts an emphasis on different aspects of the game. We want to build a program at Arcadia that focuses on speed and that pushes transition.”
What’s your technique in making your team’s strong defensively?
Delaney: “I think the key (techniques) that I have learned from the coaches I have worked with are to put your players in the best situation to succeed. There are a lot of ways to get there, whether we play man or work into a zone scheme; we want to do whatever is necessary to win on that day. Our hope will be to make the other teams prepare for us.”
Will you change your coaching approach when AU lacrosse goes Division III in 2012-2013?
Delaney: “The goals of our club team and that of a Division III team are different. With the club team, I am introducing the game to the students on campus that, in some cases, have never played. So in that respect, I am showing them techniques for the first time and I just want them to be excited about the sport.
“When we move to Division III, I will need athletes who have a stronger background in lacrosse. I will be looking for players who have competed at a high level and know how to play the game well. Right now, I am recruiting all over the country to bring student-athletes to campus next fall. Arcadia has garnered a lot of interest from players in the Philadelphia area, New Jersey and across the mid-Atlantic. I am also recruiting out of Connecticut, New York, the mid-West and as far South as Florida. When our first recruiting class is on campus, there will be a greater focus on the preparation of the team to compete against elite programs.”
Have you spent a lot of time with the team yet?
Delaney: “Yes, the club has had a number of practices. We started a little late, but we’re growing as a group. We are focusing on individual concepts with the players, and the guys are really grabbing hold of what the coaches are introducing.”
Do you coach with a calm and poise approach, or are the yelling and screaming type?
Delaney: “I think I’m in between. I have a lot of energy, because I love the game. Being a college coach has been my goal since I was in high school, so I have a lot of passion and feel very fortunate to be in this position. I’m excited to coach, but I make a point to focus that energy. Every player learns differently, so I have to change my approach to be effective with all of them.”
What do you hope to accomplish with the team this year?
Delaney: “I want the club players to have a good experience in being introduced to the sport. Lacrosse is a game for life. It’s a game you can play into your forties, fifties; I’ve even seen people play in their sixties and I want these players to enjoy it. Next year, as a Division III member, our goals will be to lay the foundation for the program and begin a great tradition, but there will always be a focus on enjoying the journey.”
Will your experience at Franklin and Marshall play a big role in coaching here at Arcadia?
Delaney: “I think it will. I have great memories as a player and I learned a lot. At F&M, I played for two head coaches and I think that gave me perspective. I found out first hand that there is more than one way to achieve your goals. The ‘right way’ is the one that works for that particular team in that particular year.”