After ending their 2022 spring season 3-10 overall and 1-6 in the conference, New Paltz Men’s lacrosse has found themselves coachless for the fall 2022 season and possibly for spring 2023 as well.
Their previous coach, Dwayne Stewart, has left the team because it was too much of an obligation and he wanted to have time for his family on Long Island. “Being in New Paltz was taking away from him spending time with his family, especially during the season because we have long days for travel and obligation practices,” says Aidan Gregory, fourth-year captain and midfielder.
Considering the team did not have a coach for their fall-ball season, captain’s practices have been implemented to make sure every athlete has the opportunity to improve their skills and stay in shape for their possible spring season. “Right now, we shoot for three times a week, when we usually get pretty good numbers on that,” says Gregory. “A lot of guys have scheduled classes when we’re trying to practice, and school is the priority. So, we don’t make anyone come to practice when they have classes or labs or anything like that.”
Since practices have become more optional than their previous seasons, there is a drop in commitment to be on the field practicing. Ryan Kaelin, third-year midfielder, says, “I would say, commitment wise, people aren’t as committed and feel like they’re just freelance.” Although it feels like there is a lack of commitment from fellow team members, numbers remain high regarding practice attendance. “I’d say most of our practices, whether we have a coach or not, we probably get about 80 to 90% attendance rate,” says Gregory.
Normally, a coach would be able to schedule practices around their team’s classes, but this year problems stem from chaotic class schedules from most athletes. “We usually have practice from 3:30 to 5:30, both in the spring and in the fall,” says Gregory. “But in the fall it’s a reduced schedule, per NCAA rules. Sometimes there’s classes that you have to take that are only offered at one time slot and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Regarding performance, the team seems to be operating the same as they were before. With this, they aren’t changing their strategies because of the differences in coaching styles between their previous coach and a potential new, incoming coach. Nate Lindsey, fourth-year captain and goalie, says “I don’t think our skills have diminished any, I think it’s more we can’t really implement anything until a new coach comes in because they have their own set offense, and they have their own set defense.”
Their limbo-like state has deterred the Hawks from advancing in performance, being as the team is essentially student-ran now. “We’re kind of just playing off of each other until we get the new coach,” says Lindsey. “Our whole entire system might be completely different than what we’ve had previously.”
The status of a potential coach for the coming spring is unknown. “There’s limits on what the administration can say to us and there’s also limits on what we can say,” says Gregory. “I think there’s a lot of state law or legislation that comes with hiring, especially for a staff position because it’s a SUNY so the administration can only tell us so much.”
Although a coach has yet to be officially hired or announced, the Hawks are set to play their official spring season and are preparing to do so with the remainder of the fall. The official schedule has not yet been released to the Hawks Athletics website, follow along for updates on the New Paltz Men’s lacrosse coaching crisis.