April 7, 2011

Haus Family Finds Solace in Sons' Successes

by Justin Feil | LaxMagazine.com

John Haus III, a sophomore and starting midfielder for Maryland, helped the Terps upend Virginia 12-7 last Saturday with a career-high four goals. He had originally planned to play for his father at North Carolina before UNC let John Haus IV go in 2008.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

John Haus is living for the moment, a lesson that Lisa Haus has tried to impart on all four of her sons.

John, the eldest of four boys, understands nothing can be done about the past, and that the future is uncertain. His mother's wisdom has helped the sophomore midfielder excel for Maryland after getting too close a look at the cutthroat business side of ACC men's lacrosse twice in the last three years.

The first shattered John's longtime dream of playing for his father, John Haus III, when he was let go by North Carolina in 2008 after eight seasons as head coach. The second shook him almost as much, when Dave Cottle was forced out at Maryland after last season, John's first with the Terrapins.

"It did come a little closer to home," Haus IV said. "It already happened once to someone I really cared for."

But time heals all wounds, and Haus is enjoying his first season with new Maryland head coach John Tillman, new assistant Kevin Warne and Ryan Moran, who was retained from Cottle's staff.

"They're doing a great job," Haus said. "I love them as a coaching staff."

Haus has helped smooth the new staff's transition. He is fourth on the Terps in points with 10 goals and nine assists, already ahead of last year's 14-point season that earned him the a piece of the Levitt Memorial Award for the team's best freshman. Haus scored a career-high four goals as Maryland picked up its first ACC win of the season, 12-7, over Virginia last Saturday and improved to 7-2 overall.

"We've been getting better each and every day and each and every week," Haus said. "Coach Tillman and those guys have been preaching that. Each day, we have to get better as a team."

His success isn't a surprise to his father, who's now in his third year at Lebanon Valley College, a Division III school in Central Pennsylvania where he helped restart the men's and women's programs. He had taken his son with him on stops at Washington College, where he won a Division III national championship, at Johns Hopkins, where he went to two NCAA semifinals, and at his alma mater North Carolina.

"He always had a stick in his hand," the elder Haus said. "He's detailed and focused and worked hard at it. He's gotten to be a good player.

"I used to tell John, listen to your coaches, work as hard as you possibly can work and be a good teammate, and I believe good things will happen."

The two had expected the younger Haus' development to culminate in a career at North Carolina.

"That was taken away from us two years ago," the elder Haus said. "That's water under the bridge. We're just moving forward. Do we think about it? Sure. It would have been a great experience."

Instead, Haus the coach is rebuilding Lebanon Valley, where he is excited about the 24 freshmen he brought in and the enthusiasm he sees at the grassroots level in Central Pennsylvania that he is helping to grow, while young John is excelling for a top-10 Division I program. Haus III doesn't get many chances to see his son play, but he will be there when Maryland plays at Navy on Saturday, just another proud parent in the stands.

John Haus IV, now the head coach at Division III Lebanon Valley College, said the coaching carousel is not an ACC phenomenon. "In general, across the board with Division I lacrosse, the expectations are so very high," he said. "It's a lot of, 'What have you done for me lately?'

© Tim Flynn

"John's been through a lot," he said. "I'm forever grateful that Coach Cottle gave my son John an opportunity to be a part of the Maryland program. John took advantage and worked hard. Now he plays for Coach Tillman. John enjoys playing for him and being a part of his program.

"When your son is out there playing for a great university, whether I'm watching on TV or sitting in the stands, I'm extremely proud of what he's done. You want him to be successful."

Haus IV ended up at his mother's alma mater, in the home state of his parents, who were high school sweethearts. Many of his relatives still live in Maryland, which made the decision all the easier when he was a high school senior looking for the right fit. Lisa had shelved her red for years, but was happy to bring it back out when he had to find a new option to North Carolina.

"I think my son is doing an awesome job at Maryland," said Lisa, a 1984 Maryland graduate. "It's taught him to be a better person. It's a lesson we've all grown from."

Haus could have made it easier on himself by going outside the ACC. Maryland, though, was one of his first calls when he reopened his college options.

"I wanted to go to a program where you competed for a national championship every year," Haus said. "By the end of my four years, more than anything, that's what I want, for Maryland to have a national championship. You're playing a big game here every week. As a competitor, that's a reason people choose to come to big schools like this."

With big schools come bigger pressure, something that the Haus family has seen firsthand in a short span.

"I wouldn't zero in on the ACC," Haus III said. "In general, across the board with Division I lacrosse, the expectations are so very high. It's a lot of, 'What have you done for me lately?' It's about win, win, win. I think there's a lot more to college coaching than that. There are more meaningful things. It's about having a great college experience. Unfortunately it is more about, 'What have you done for me lately?'

"It's hard for youngsters. My son John had a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Cottle and loved playing for him. It wasn't something he foresaw or wanted to happen. As an athlete, you move on. You get to meet and get acquainted with a new coach and find out what he expects of you. You do the best you can to play as hard as you can."

Will Haus, a senior at Palmyra (Pa.) High School, will do what his family would have considered unthinkable just a few years ago: he'll suit up for Duke. Will picked the Blue Devils over Maryland and a chance to play alongside his brother.

Haus IV had to return to Chapel Hill last year when Maryland played North Carolina in the regular season. He registered a season-high three ground balls in the 9-7 loss, but in the rematch with Carolina in the ACC tournament semifinals, Haus scored his first college hat trick, including the game-winner in a 13-5 Terps victory.

"Last year was kind of the learning year of how I was going to feel going back to Chapel Hill," he said. "This year was more I knew what was happening, and it's sort of another game on the schedule. It was just go out and play and have fun."

Haus didn't have as much as he would have liked with an assist and one goal waived in Maryland's 11-6 loss to North Carolina on March 26.

"When my son has to play Carolina, there is another thought process when he gets ready for the game," Lisa Haus said. "He also gets very emotional for those times that they play. I think that's normal.

"I know he doesn't go into playing against Carolina with any bitterness. He just wants to play well."

The Haus family will cross another bridge it never expected next year when their son Will suits up for Duke. A senior at Palmyra (Pa.) High School who like his brother was MVP of his high school football team, Will picked the defending national champions over Maryland and the chance to play alongside his brother.

"Of course, it would have been easier," Lisa Haus said. "We had to let them go where they wanted to go."

Said John Haus IV: "I think in the end he made the right choice for himself. I wouldn't fault him. I wish more than anything, he'd be here. We've always been pretty close, me and Will. We've been playing with each other ever since we were growing up."

There was a time not so long ago when they could have pictured wearing Carolina blue and playing together for their father.

"I only have one shade of blue now," Haus III said. "Duke Blue Devil blue with Will next year."

It will mix in with his Lebanon Valley blue and his other son's Maryland red. That is the only thing dividing a family connected through lacrosse and the tough lessons they have learned through it in recent years.

Said Haus III: "When you're sitting in the stands, and have two boys playing against each other, for two of the greatest lacrosse programs in country, how proud are you?"

It's another moment to treasure.

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