April 13, 2011

Cottle Roots for Maryland, Reinvents Himself

by Gary Lambrecht | LaxMagazine.com

"I never thought it would be this much fun," former Maryland coach Dave Cottle said of not coaching a college lacrosse team. Cottle is president of the MLL's Chesapeake Bayhawks, a consultant to Marquette and MAAC men's lacrosse and an eighth-grade coach for the Annapolis Hawks club.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

For the first time in 29 spring seasons, Dave Cottle is not immersed in the mechanics of coaching a collegiate lacrosse team. After nearly three decades of living the college game's continuous cycle – from recruiting high school players to scouting opponents, from designing and evaluating practices to incessant film watching and game planning, from living the exuberant highs and depressing lows of victory and defeat – Cottle is absent from the adrenalin-driven, Division I sidelines.

But Cottle is anything but cut off from the sport. On the contrary, the raspy-voiced, 55-year-old author of 280 victories and 22 NCAA tournament trips over 28 combined years at Loyola and Maryland is all over the game he has loved seemingly forever.

Cottle is nearly three months into his new gig as president of the Chesapeake Bayhawks, the Annapolis-based Major League Lacrosse defending champions. He also is a consultant for Marquette University and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and recently helped Marquette hire coach Joe Amplo, the current Hofstra assistant who will begin building the school's men's lacrosse program toward its NCAA launch in 2013.

Cottle also is helping to coach the Annapolis Hawks' eighth-grade recreation team, not to mention being involved in local youth clinics, camps and tournaments backed by the Bayhawks. Occasionally, he can even slip away to play golf near his residence in Boca Rotan, Fla., or spend time fishing with his 14-year-old son, Sean.

"I never thought it would be this much fun [not to be coaching a college team]," said Cottle, who was forced to resign after finishing his ninth season at Maryland last May, after the Terps were eliminated from the NCAA tournament quarterfinals by Notre Dame and finished with a 12-4 record.

Cottle, who will coach the Bayhawks with team owner and head coach Brendan Kelly after offering some critical help as a consultant last summer, guided the Terps to eight straight NCAA tournaments and three final four weekends, and never lost a first-round game. But he never got Maryland its first national title since 1975, after taking Loyola to 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments, also without winning a crown.

"I accepted when I went [to Maryland in 2001] that the goal was to win a championship, and we didn't accomplish it," said Cottle, who was replaced by John Tillman. "I hope Maryland has the greatest season, and I don't care who gets the credit."

Here are a few examples of how Maryland's loss has turned into someone else's gain.

"Dave is one of the most creative guys in the sport. When I took over as [Bayhawks] head coach in the middle of last season, I invited him to help me with some personnel and coaching decisions, and the evidence is there. We went on a run and didn't stop until we won the whole thing. I think he's one of the founding fathers of the game," Kelly said. "And by coming on in a full-blown capacity on February 1, I think he shows that our league is moving in the right direction."

"We were looking for someone to help us get things off the ground and start our coaching search. Dave's name bubbled to the surface pretty quickly," said Mike Broeker, Marquette's deputy athletic director and sport administrator for men's lacrosse.

"Dave did an incredible job putting together a list of 10 candidates very quickly. Then, he found a great fit for the university. I wanted to tap into Dave's decades of vision and expertise. Whether it's budget concerns, understanding equipment manufacturers and how to work with them, scheduling, figuring out what we need in terms of facility upgrades, he knows it. That guy should still be coaching [at Maryland], but I'm glad we had the chance to get him."

"[Cottle] came to me and asked if he could help coach my eighth-grade team. I can't believe how he is so into this," said Matt Hogan, director of Hogan's Lacrosse, which includes the Hawks. "He's a fantastic teacher, very fair and demanding. He keeps things simple, and he's obsessed with practicing the right way. There's no airs about him, none of this 'I'm a big-time coach and you should listen to me.' He just loves being around kids who are passionate about lacrosse and who want to get better."

"He knows everybody, and he knows everything about the game," said Bayhawks general manager Spencer Ford. "He's our coach in the office and on the sideline. Everybody wants to know what he's thinking. He's obviously the right guy for the job."

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