MJ: Lacrosse Karma Works for Kingsbury
It looked like Brian Kingsbury was going to get squeezed out of the coaching profession. Even though he led Castleton to the Division III NCAA tournament in his first year as head coach in 2011 after spending two years as a graduate assistant, Kingsbury became a fiscal casualty. The school decided to make the head men's lacrosse job a full-time gig and combined it with an assistant football position. Kingsbury found himself in second place in a two-horse race with another staff member who had more gridiron experience.
It's not an uncommon practice at institutions trying to maximize its athletic department dollars, but that doesn't take away the sting.
"It was kind of [crappy], in a way," Kingsbury said.
But just as one door closed, another opened. Paul Schimoler, who was the head coach at Division II St. Michael's – just two hours up the road from Castleton in Colchester, Vt. – for eight seasons, joined the Dartmouth coaching staff, creating an opportunity for Kingsbury to keep his career on an upward path. Although he leaves one tournament-quality team behind, he takes over one that appears on the cusp of breaking through to the top echelon of its division.
The Purple Knights have been toiling in the second tier of the Northeast-10 for a while, but broke through last year, posting a 10-6 record, which included a pair of one-goal losses to eventual national finalist Adelphi – one of them in double overtime. In addition, St. Mike's only graduates two players off the 2011 roster. While Kingsbury has core coaching philosophies that he'll be bringing with him, the kind of promise the Knights hold means he'll be absorbing as much has he'll be educating in his first season.
"I don't want to fix anything that isn't broken, and last year's success was pretty damn good," said Kingsbury. "Coming off their successful season, I want them to teach me what was so successful about it. If you stop learning, you start dying, so there will definitely be a bunch of learning. Following Coach Schimoler, who was the NEILA coach of the year and who had arguably the best season in school history, means I have some big shoes to fill."
Kingsbury will be implementing a comprehensive strength and conditioning program to bolster the program, but when he arrives on campus next week, his primary goal will be to contact all of the players to keep the lines of communication working smoothly.
"I've talked to a lot of Hall of Fame coaches about what are the keys to success and they've said it's the relationship you build with the student-athletes," said Kingsbury, who prepped at St. Mary's (Annapolis), played at Maryland and was an assistant at UMass before joining Castleton. "I like to step up to challenges and I look forward to the challenges of what lies ahead with a talented group."
This summer has been one of the most challenging for Kingsbury, but he managed to rebound from being squeezed out of one job only to find a better spot. As the old adage goes, sometimes the best revenge is living well.