November 19, 2010

Flynn Perfect for U19 Job, Colleagues Say

by Justin Feil | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

Interest in coaching the 2012 U.S. U19 team was at an all-time high, but Tim Flynn, an assistant in 2008, naturally emerged as the top selection.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Before 2008, Tim Flynn wasn't looking to get into international coaching.

Now he can't stop.

Flynn, one of the winningest boys' lacrosse coaches in the country out of Mountain Lakes (N.J.) High School, will be the head coach of the U.S. men's national U19 lacrosse team that will compete in the 2012 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship in Turku, Finland. He was an assistant coach for the U.S. gold medal team in 2008.

"It's a huge honor to be representing the United States and US Lacrosse," Flynn said. "It's a little out of the realm of working with my high school. Coaching at Mountain Lakes is a tremendous opportunity for me year in and year out. There are great people, great kids. It's a great situation.

"This is obviously very special being able to represent the country, to work with some really outstanding young men in the United States, and to represent US Lacrosse and the USA is quite a thrill."

Flynn only applied to be a U.S. assistant after he was convinced it wouldn't take away from his commitment to his Mountain Lakes team. He found something special in helping the U19 team to gold.

"After the experience of 2008, the positive feeling of helping bring that team together, it was definitely a fantastic experience," Flynn said. "Certainly it's a huge challenge. The competition is severe. I want to help the national team as much as I can."

The U19 national team has never lost a world championship. In 2008, Flynn focused on the midfield and took on the role of the box coach, a critical role given how tightly international officials monitor the box.

"Timmy jumped in and did a great job of it," said 2008 head coach Chuck Apel. "He'll do a great job with the team."

Apel knows that well from coaching with Flynn in 2008, and too well from coaching against him in high school. Apel's Bridgewater-Raritan High School team was Flynn's 500th career win in 2009, as Flynn became just the sixth coach in the country to reach that plateau. This year is his 32nd at Mountain Lakes.

"I think they're always ready to play and play hard," Apel said. "He gets the most out of his team. He's always done that. They've had a lot of different kinds of kids, but they play their style. They've had phenomenal success."

Said Brian Kasel, a Mountain Lakes graduate who scored three goals in their last state title win: “A day hasn’t gone by without me thinking about the great experiences I had playing for Coach Flynn. The paths to the back-to-back state championship wins against Delbarton are some of the greatest memories I have. Coach Flynn is one of the most dedicated and tenacious coaches in the game. Playing for him was like nothing else.”

Flynn's Lakers have won eight state titles, the last in 2008 before he enjoyed his first foray into international coaching.

"I think it's definitely a help to have been an assistant," Flynn said. "You get your eyes opened up to a lot of different things. It's a matter of picking the team and moving the team around and preparing the team.

"There are challenges in that you don't have a tremendous amount of time with the team. You have to take every minute very seriously. There's a lot of planning, and you have to bring it together."

It will be another month before the assistant coach selections are finalized and six months before the pool of players begins to whittle down. University of Denver men's lacrosse coach Bill Tierney, who formerly coached at Princeton University in New Jersey, believes that Flynn is the perfect choice to guide the group.

"Coaching a U.S. or national team is a fine line between overdoing it and trusting your staff and trusting the best players in the country," said Tierney, who was head coach of the gold medal-winning 1998 U.S. men's senior team. "Timmy is the perfect person for that. He's a fun guy and he's got no ego. I think he'll combine those skills and do a great job."

Jim Stagnitta has known Flynn for over 20 years. The Rutgers University men's coach admires Flynn's dedication to the sport.

"There are a couple things that separate him," Stagnitta said. "As long as he's been involved in this, his intensity and passion, it seems to get more driven every year. What's unique about him is he's able to instill that passion in the kids that play for him.

"He's great at managing people," he added. "He relates to kids. His ability to relate to players has been timeless."

Stagnitta still sees Flynn at clinics and practices trying to absorb new knowledge as he tries to improve on his Mountain Lakes career record that now stands at 523-101.

Said Stagnitta: "I don't think he's ever sat back and rested and enjoyed what he's accomplished to this point."

An all-conference midfielder at Montclair State, Flynn is part of a lacrosse family. His wife Betsy remains close to his Mountain Lakes team and his former players. Their daughter Kim married another New Jersey high school coach, and their grandchildren already have sticks in their hands. His family extends to a network of past players who are now assistants at Mountain Lakes or at rival high schools.

Flynn's love for the game has taken him to several open world championships, but before 2008, it had only been as a fan.

"When the opportunity with the U19 group arose," Flynn said, "I thought it's something I'd enjoy."

Interest in the 2012 head coaching position was at an all-time high, but Flynn emerged as the selection for the top spot. Perhaps the best advice for the man now entrusted to deliver a seventh straight world title comes from Apel.

"For Tim," he said, "just be himself. He'll do a great job."


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