By Anthony Caruso III
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/9/20
Brian Dougherty has never been one to hide his emotions, so he had little trouble expressing his excitement about the announcement Friday that he will serve as an assistant coach for his hometown team, Philadelphia Barrage, of Major League Lacrosse.
Dougherty, known to most as ‘Doc,” was a standout goaltender on back-to-back championship teams (2006, 2007) when the Barrage had its first stint in Philly. Now, after spending the past 12 years as a coach at the college, pro and now high school levels, Doc will bring aunique set of experiences to the franchise.
Dougherty will serve as an assistant coach under head coach Spencer Ford. A member of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame Class of 2012, the 46-year-old is presently the head coach of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and has served as an assistant at Haverford College and Penn and as head coach at Chestbnut Hill College. He also was an assistant for the Long Island Lizards of the MLL.
To this day, Dougherty holds a number of records in the MLL record books, including fourth all-time save percentage in a single season (playing 6 games or more) achieved in the Barrage’s ’06 Championship season. In the 2006 and 2007 seasons with the Barrage Dougherty was named MLL Goalie of the Year.
Dougherty’s career started here in Philadelphia, at The Episcopal Academy. He went on to play at Maryland, where was a two-time First-Team All-American and was also named the nation’s outstanding tournament player when he led the Terps to the finals in 1995.
Dougherty is a two-time recipient of the Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. Award as the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Goalie of the Year. After college he balanced his professional playing career between the MLL, the NLL and Team USA. Dougherty won two Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) Gold Medals as the goalie for Team USA at the 1998 and 2010 FIL World Championships.
Dougherty answered these questions in an exclusive interview with phillylacrosse.com. (see the MLL presas release on his hiring).
Q: What did you think when you first heard that the team would be coming back to the market?
BD: “It’s been a long time since I really thought about the Barrage. We have a pretty awesome group text with each other still, so when we heard that the team was coming back, the group text started blowing up. There was a lot of social media with highlights of our games back then. It was awesome, because it brought back a lot of great memories.”
Q: Do you have special memories from the past that have come back with this new decision to be a part of this new team?
A: “No doubt. Not only were we one of the franchises, but we are the best ever I think. I know we won back-to-back (2006 and 2007), before losing in the semifinals (2008). I also know that they won the championship in 2004. There has been a lot of success with this franchise. We’re excited to bring it back.”
Q: The Philadelphia market is a hotbed for lacrosse. That was a huge reason why this team was brought back. As a coach, can you talk about it more?
A: “I think Philadelphia has quickly turned in the last 20-25 years into the hotbed, or market, depending on how you describe it. We’re producing some really talented professional and college players. There’s a lot of kids all over the area, who have the potential to do great things. Matt Rambo (Dougherty’s assistant coach at Springside CHA) did his thing. He’s probably the best player in the world right now. Philadelphia is producing really good players — not to mention that the growth of the sport, especially at the youth level, continues to rise. A lot of people around here in the last 20-25 years have helped grow the game and grow it into the best place in the country to play when it comes to producing lacrosse talent, along with the participation of youth lacrosse players.
“I’ll get in a lot of trouble for saying this but I don’t really care. I feel like Philadelphia is near the top if not the top. If it’s not Philadelphia, I would say it’s Long Island with just the amount of kids that play there. There’s a lot more kids playing lacrosse there and they produce awesome lacrosse, as well. Then, Philadelphia, before Baltimore, Upstate New York, and the New England area in my top 5.”
Q: Will you have to adjust your coaching philosophy now as a pro coach as compared to coaching at the high school level?
BD: “I don’t think so. I used to coach the New York Lizards in the MLL for the last two years. I didn’t coach the team last year, but I did the two years prior to that, while coaching high school. In high school, I feel like I have better players, so skillswise, it’s better. They will listen and they will do the things that you want them to do. But at the same time, high school has its disadvantages, as well. I feel like I’m more so a teacher at the high school level than I am at the pro level. Coaching is coaching regardless of the level. I’ve done Pro, Division I, Division II, and high school — I feel like I’ve been all over the place. I try to do the same thing everywhere I go.
“They all have been awesome experiences for me. This will be my third year coaching the pros and this is my third year coaching at the high school level. I have been coaching previously in college for approximately 12 years.”
Q: What’s it going to be like being an assistant coach for you to work under Spencer Ford?
BD: “It should be interesting, but at the same time, it should be fun. We’re still putting together our roster and once we get that roster finalized with players, who are excited to be playing here, we can get some communication with the guys. I think there needs to be chemistry there, and Philly is a great place to be in the summer. There are a lot of things to do, as you’re centrally located. I’m excited about the future with this team.”
Q: The team is going to have a lot of Philadelphia flavor. Could you talk about being a part of a team with guys, you may already have ties to, like P.T. Ricci?
BD: “I’m in a pretty cool spot in my life right now. The Philadelphia lacrosse community is a very close-knit community so I’ve been coaching against them. I know P.T. Ricci, and my teams have actually played against his. Our team 10’s have played against each other all winter. He and I have known each other for a very long time and we have a great relationship. Philly lacrosse is a great community to be a part of.”
Q: What’s it like for you to see these kids as a young player, then they go off to college and you may have them on this new team with you as a coach?
BD: “It’s really cool to be in this situation. I’ve seen guys in Long Island the last couple of years — I don’t know if I really coached any of those guys previously — but it’s really cool watching these kids grow up. It’s a really cool feeling to see it.”
Q: What willl it take for the Barrage to be successful?
BD: “It’s really a players league. The players are so talented. In the MLL, everybody is really good. It’s not like one team stinks and the rest are really good. All the teams are good. Everyone has an equal chance of winning. What separates some of the best teams is the team chemistry — their off the field and locker room stuff. And having a lot of guys from Philly, or actually living here right now, because they either play for the Wings, or are already familiar with the city, will help. We have guys going out to dinner and hanging out. That makes a big difference. I think it’s an advantage to have a lot of kids knowing each other.”
“I’ve been on a lot of successful teams in my life. It started with my dad at The Episcopal Academy, then to Maryland. I also played for Team USA and played professionally. I also coached some great college teams. It’s always these teams that have the best chemistry and the players that don’t care who gets the credit. That’s what makes it fun. Every successful team that I’ve been on has had those attributes. I think team chemistry is by far the most important aspect of the game for a team to be successful. Like I said, everybody is so talented. Playing in the pros, that means you’re in the top 1% of your sport. You made it there, now it’s about everybody being on the same page. We need them all to buy in on the championship goal.”
Q: What are your expectations, along with Spencer’s for this team for the 2020 season?
BD: “We haven’t had a chance to meet in person to discuss that. We’ve had a bunch of conference calls to make sure that everyone is on the same page. I’m sure the goal is the same for every coach. We’re competitive people and we want to have great success. We want to win, period. We’re hoping that we are going to go out there and win the MLL Championship. If you’re in pro sports and that’s not your goal, then there’s probably something wrong with you. That’s what we’re trying to do here in Philadelphia. We want to have fun and win the right way. We want to have the right players with a lot of Philly guys, or connections to the area. We want to go out there and play tough and win. That’s what we’re trying to do.
“If you’re a team in Philadelphia, you have to be tough. That’s been ingrained in our minds in this city since we were young boys.”