Jim Nagle returns to the Three Villages to take the helm of the Stony Brook University Men’s Lacrosse team after more than a decade at Colgate where he twice won Coach of The Year honors in the Patriot League. Nagle was an All-Suffolk attackman and won a New York State Class A Championship at lacrosse powerhouse Ward Melville High School. He played collegiately at Loyola.
Long Island Pulse: Describe the difference between coaching at a private school like Colgate and a public university like Stony Brook.
Jim Nagle: The school spirit and fan support stand out, first and foremost. I love how our students rally around our athletes. We had 4,000 students at our homecoming football game against Lafayette. And our facilities catch the kids’ eyes.
LIP: Will your LI/Ward Melville roots be a recruiting advantage?
Nagle: It has been and will continue to be an advantage. I have a comfort level here. I can go into these schools and tell kids what it’s like out there. I hope kids can see themselves in me when they get older.
LIP: What could Long Island fans learn about lacrosse in other parts of the country and Canada?
Nagle: The biggest thing about Canadians is the offensive dynamic is broader. They pass and move without the ball. Many US coaches teach the game based on the ball in your stick.
LIP: Do you recruit pure athletes or finished products?
Nagle: We look for guys with a high athletic ceiling and work ethic, but also guys with specific skill-sets, like face-off men and goalies. Since we focus on fundamentals, a kid with a solid base will flourish in our system.
LIP: How important are academics at Stony Brook?
Nagle: This is a great school, so we’re fortunate. We’re lucky to have a great medical school and a health science program. Kids who have academic prowess and who understand the importance of academics will succeed here.
LIP: What do most of your players choose as majors and how important is the Goldstein Center in keeping players eligible and focused?
Nagle: Our majors are widespread. History, electrical engineering, psychology, business and others. The Goldstein Center and our academic advisor Shannon Logan do a great job. For what the Goldstein Center offers, guys have to be resisting it to do poorly.
LIP: You played for a legendary high school coach and won a New York State title. What’s the most enduring lesson you learned from Joe Cuozzo?
Nagle: There are so many. Best lesson overall is to focus on the simple fundamentals and let the guys play. And harping on ball movement, shooting low. Trying not to reinvent the game of lacrosse is big. I do things Coach Cuozzo talked about on a daily basis and I don’t even realize it until I stop to think about them.
LIP: How has the recruiting process changed?
Nagle: Recruiting changes year to year. Coaches need to constantly reinvent themselves. You can’t get locked in to one area. Kids are committing earlier so there’s pressure on coaches to take commitments. It’s been a great first six months for us because we’ve been an excellent option for kids who want a fresh start. Recruiting comes down to identifying “fits” for your team. Once the season ends, you focus on the future and hit the road.
LIP: Assess the America East Conference this year.
Nagle: I respect the coaches in this conference. I faced a lot of them at Colgate. Coach Marr at Albany has had some talented teams lately. Binghamton has a lot of quality underclassmen. UMBC has talent. This conference has quality coaches and quality student athletes.
LIP: What did you learn from your Fall Ball experience?
Nagle: I learned that it was refreshing to start over. I learned a lot from the guys, as much as they learned from me. We got the opportunity to teach and compete with some new ideas.
Words: John Westermann
Photo: Kenny Janosick