The Secret Of Their Success – The Medfield Lacrosse Program
ITHMA wanted to get a better understanding of how a top high school sports program becomes dominant over a span of many years so we decided to reach out to Head Coach John Isaf of the Medfield High School Lacrosse program. Medfield has won three straight Division 2 Lacrosse State Championships and their senior class will be trying for their fourth consecutive title over their four year high school careers. The Warriors will open their season on April 4th against Holliston but play a brutal overall schedule with games against top out of state programs as well as top in state programs including perennial powers Dover-Sherborn, BC High, Xaverian and Duxbury. Medfield beat Hingham 13-9 to win the 2016 D2 State title and don’t be surprised to see a rematch of these two teams once again at the end of this lacrosse season as they both return top talent and are two programs that are built for long-term success.
- What is your outlook for Medfield Lacrosse this coming season?
Same as every season. Work harder than the previous day and commit ourselves to the standards and process, not outcomes, we know produces improvement from the beginning of the season to the end so we are playing our best ball in June. We have a good core of returning talent at key positions, we have excellent leadership and experience from our Captains and seniors, we need to find guys who can step into big shoes to fill at the faceoff x and goalie, and we have some young talent we will have to develop. Success will come down to how hungry, relentless, together and compelled we are to do all the little things that lead to success.
- Who are some key players to watch on your team this year?
We have a number of key players who are critical to our success. I think our Captains will be critical to our success. So Jack Cahill (Mid), Andrew Garfield (Mid), Matt Dold (LSM) and Mark Nevins (Att) are veteran players and leaders to keep an eye on. Other key guys we need to play big roles for us are Owen Murphy at Attack; Dylan McNally at Faceoffs; Devin Kelley, Andrew Cook, Davis White and John Quinn on Defense; Kyle Keegan, Brian Abely, Jack Fitzgerald, Alex Griffin and Tom Schofield at Midfield; and then whoever wins the battle at goalie…Liam Gately, Brady Neeb or Kevin Walsh.
- Who are some of your past team players that went on to play college lacrosse?
We have been fortunate to have a number of players from each graduating class that go on to play college lacrosse.
In this year’s senior class we have Jack Cahill heading to Holy Cross, Andrew Garfield going to Quinnipiac and Matt Dold to Bentley.
From the 2016 class…John MacLean at BU, Kevin McCordic at Providence, Matt Treiber at Tufts, Kyle Gately at Hamilton, Nigel Reiff at Bentley and Jack Vara heading to Princeton.
In the 2015 class we had Will Murphy at Holy Cross, Sam Hurley at Bentley and Dan Zlevor at Franklin & Marshall.
In the 2014 class we had Matt Crowell at Bowdoin, Robert Treiber at Tufts, Brian Bissell at Williams, Blake Frasca at RPI, Jimmy Ganem at Roger Williams / UMass Boston, Jack Isaf at Ithaca and Tyler Hagan at Mt. Ida.
In the 2013 class we had Ben Cox at Vermont and Andrew Melvin at Bates.
We also have many former players playing club lacrosse at schools like Boston College, South Carolina, Northeastern, Maryland, Clemson and Stonehill to name a few.
- How do the coaches at Medfield promote their players to colleges?
We advise our guys and their parents on the college recruitment and college search process…to focus on the right academic fit first and foremost as there are no guarantees lacrosse will work out so you better like the school for the school. I meet with them early in their HS careers to go over what they need to be thinking about and doing to identify the right college fit for them first…and then focus on whether lacrosse can help them get there. I know and talk to a number of college coaches about our players over the years and most college coaches know our program and the caliber of student and player we produce. So coaches reach out to me for recommendations and background on our guys and I reach out and recommend our players and share information from a coach’s perspective…share their highlight reel, academics, coachability, etc. A number of college coaches come to our games in May and June and ask about who they should be looking at. The success and visibility of our program certainly helps our players get noticed and we try to promote them with content via our twitter channel (@Med_Lax) as well.
- Prep schools have emerged taking some talented athletes from towns. How does Medfield keep their kids home?
We don’t keep all of our kids…we lose several incoming 9th graders every year to private schools. I think the sustained success of our lacrosse program and our highly ranked academics is an attraction to keep kids home. They and their parents know they will develop their skills and competitiveness in our program, play in huge Friday/Saturday night games in front of big crowds, have a chance to compete for state championships, and gain exposure to college coaches/recruiting because so many college coaches know our program and come to our games. Combine that with the highly rated nature of our school and academics…US News & World Report recently ranked Medfield as the #1 high school in Massachusetts…and you have a very attractive and affordable path to success on the field and in the classroom. We compare favorably in producing college-level/ready student athletes to good schools as many private schools in the area.
- Do you encourage kids to play multiple sports?
Yes. Most of our players are multi-sport athletes…football, hockey (Medfield won the D2 State Hockey title in 2016 with many lacrosse kids playing on that team), basketball, soccer, track. There are so many reasons to play multiple sports…athleticism, competitiveness, avoid overuse injuries and burnout, play different roles, etc. I was a Basketball/Lacrosse/Football guy myself. We always want our guys with sticks in their hands in the off-season too though…so playing together in a tourney or hitting the wall on a weekend in the summer and fall and then getting some lacrosse-specific skills training a few days p/week in the winter and preseason is a way to continue to develop and prepare for lacrosse season without interfering with the sport in season. I don’t think I’m alone in my belief that specializing in a single sport at the youth or even HS level is just not in the best long-term interest of the student-athlete.
- 7. Anything else you would like to add about being a lacrosse player in the Medfield program?
We have such great tradition and pride in our program and have developed such a lacrosse culture in our town…that it’s just such a special experience for the guys to be a part of our program. Our alumni are invested and come back to help our guys by coming to practice and being on the sideline for games…we compete for state championships every year…we prepare our guys to play at the next level in college…we play a really tough schedule full of big games against top teams in MA and from other states like NY, NJ, CT, CA, NH, WA…we teach life lessons and develop relationships that extend beyond HS and the field, helping our guys with internships and jobs and networking with our alumni. We just try to create a memorable experience and instill values the guys can take with them as they move on in life.