Stony Brook Introduces New Coaches
by Chris R. Vaccaro | LaxMagazine.com | photos by Greg Shemitz
Jim Nagle says the Stony Brook's athletic culture has changed from when he grew up nearby.
STONY BROOK, N.Y. – For many, Long Island is the mecca of lacrosse. Now Stony Brook University is looking to bolster the image even more for the region.
The Long Island school held a press conference Tuesday at its indoor sports complex to announce its new lacrosse coaches, Jim Nagle and Joe Spallina.
Nagle, a Long Island native who grew up in the shadows of Stony Brook as a Ward Melville High School alumnus, comes back home to coach the men's lacrosse team after most recently coaching at Colgate.
Spallina, who most notably led the Adelphi women's program to three straight Division II national championships, will take the same position with the Seawolves just 12 miles from where he grew up, coached and was a gym teacher in Rocky Point.
"It's not often you get to have a men's and women's program celebrate the future together," said Stony Brook Athletic Director Jim Fiore. "The great universities of the world have great athletic programs. We've come very far, very fast and have a long way to go. Men's and women's lacrosse are a big part of that journey."
Nagle took the Port Jefferson Ferry from Bridgeport, Conn., and saw a childhood friend whose daughter plays lacrosse. He drove down the block he grew up on near Stony Brook and saw three kids playing catch with lacrosse sticks.
"It felt right to come back," said Nagle, who helped lead Ward Melville to a 24-0 record and New York state title in 1988 under legendary head coach Joe Cuozzo.
Nagle said he notices a massive difference in the culture of athletics at Stony Brook today compared to when he was living on Long Island.
"Long Island cares about lacrosse, Three Village cares about lacrosse and now Stony Brook cares," he said. "You're not going to go anywhere where they care more about lacrosse than right here."
Nagle comes to Stony Brook after a 10-year run at Colgate as head coach.
"The goal is to be the best. Average is not acceptable," says Joe Spallina.
Prior to that he coached at SUNY Oneonta, taking the Red Dragons to the NCAA tournament and winning USILA Division III Coach of the Year honors.
"He's someone who knows Long Island, believes in the product we're selling and knows the culture of Long Island boys' lacrosse," Fiore said.
As for his current role, Nagle said he is not looking to compete against the Stony Brook teams of the past, most notably the success garnered under former head coach Rick Sowell with players like Jordan McBride and Kevin Crowley under his wing.
"We're moving forward," he said. "That's going to be the focus. We're going to worry about the journey and what we're doing on a day-to-day basis.
"If we get that in order, everything else will take care of itself."
Spallina, Fiore said, is the most popular hire he has had at Stony Brook. The calls came piling in before and after he was named the women's coach. Three national championships and a 73-2 record in four seasons speak for themselves.
Add in his assistant coaching role with the Long Island Lizards in the MLL, his two national titles as a player at Adelphi, his 87-9 high school record with three Suffolk County titles, and it's clear Spallina has become synonymous with winning.
"Great moments are born with great opportunity," he said, quoting former U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks, "and that's what I have here. We have an opportunity to move the Stony Brook women's lacrosse team to new heights.
"The goal is to be the best. Average is not acceptable."
The energy was contagious.
"With Joe and Jim, we embark on an incredible new era," Fiore said. "It's the journey that's the reward. We're not building for 2012, we're building for '15, '16, '17 and beyond."