December 13, 2010

Rollins Men's Lacrosse Coach Baxter Resigns 'Due to Personal Reasons'

from press release

Rollins College announced that Andrew Baxter has resigned from his duties as head coach of the men's lacrosse team. The team began NCAA Division II play in spring 2008 and Baxter is credited with building the men's lacrosse program from the ground up.

"I am thankful for the opportunity Rollins College has given me the past few years," said Baxter. "It was a tough decision to leave, but due to personal reasons I need to take a step away from my coaching duties at Rollins. I am most grateful to Athletic Director Pennie Parker, and the rest of the Athletics staff, for the chance to be a part of such an outstanding athletic department. It has been a difficult choice, but I am leaving the program in very capable hands."

Assistant coach R.J. Rossi will serve as the interim head coach for the 2011 season, and a national search will take place at the conclusion of the spring season.

"The College greatly appreciates everything Andrew has done for Rollins," said Athletic Director Pennie Parker. "We are very saddened to see him go, but understand and wish him nothing but the best in his future and career. He will always be a huge part of Rollins Athletics."

Baxter was hired at the program's inception in March 2007. In less than a year, he built a team, set the schedule and had the Tars ready for the start of the 2008 season.

Rollins posted records of 2-8 in each of its first two seasons. The 2009 season was a breakout year for the Tars as they won their first Deep South Conference game, an 11-8 decision over Wingate, and followed with a thrilling 9-8 win over Pfeiffer their next time out. Freshman defender Nick Scannapieco became the Tars first All-DSC First Team honoree in 2009 while Eric Schmidt received an Honorable Mention selection.

Baxter came to Rollins after serving as an assistant coach at Mars Hill College. Prior to assisting with the Lions, he served as assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Mercyhurst College for two seasons. While with the Lakers, the lacrosse team compiled a record of 22-5 and appeared in the 2004 NCAA Division II Final Four. Baxter led two nationally ranked offenses during his tenure. In 2004 the Lakers averaged a second best 15.7 goals per game and in 2005 put up 13.9 points per contest, third best in Division II. Mercyhurst also garnered eight All-Americans during Baxter's tenure.

Baxter was the assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Kenyon College in 2003 as the Lords posted a 10-4 record and had six players honored on the All-NCAC team. From 1998-2002 he served as head coach at St. Charles Preparatory School in Columbus, Ohio. He compiled a 49-14 record at St. Charles, made three Final Four appearances, coached 34 All-Ohio honorees and had one student-athlete named All-American.

A native of Potomac, Maryland, Baxter is a 1999 graduate of The Ohio State University where he earned a Bachelors degree in Communications.

Rossi is in his second year with the Tars after coming on as the assistant coach for the 2010 season where he took on the role of defensive coordinator. Rossi joined the Rollins staff with over 25 years of experience as a player and coach, and has already made enormous strides, coaching the Tars first ever First Team Deep South Conference selection in 2010, and securing top-notch recruiting classes in his short time with the program.

"I am looking forward to working with the team once again this season, and am excited to take on the responsibilities as head coach for the spring," Rossi stated. "I want to especially thank Coach Baxter for providing me with the opportunity to serve as his assistant coach, and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."

"I am excited about the prospect of building upon the foundation that Coach Baxter has created in the program's first three years, and am looking forward to continuing to build a successful team in the seasons to come," Rossi continued. "We have some great returning players, an impressive freshman class, and an extremely talented incoming class for the 2012 season. The next few years of Rollins lacrosse are crucial to the program's development, and I am honored to be a part of that progress. The potential here are Rollins is endless, and I hope to be a part of that growth for years to come."

Before coming to Rollins, Rossi spent four years at Western Connecticut State University as a Defensive Coordinator for two seasons before being promoted to Assistant Coach with defensive responsibilities.

RJ began his stint at Western Connecticut after four seasons as the varsity coach at nearby Ridgefield High School in Connecticut, where he built a solid foundation for the growing program. In 2006, he was named Class "M" Coach of the Year as well as Danbury News Times All-Area Boys Lacrosse Coach of the Year.

During his time at Ridgefield, he coached the program's first ever All-American, as well as five All-State players, and 15 All-League players in just four years. He also coached three consecutive First Team Academic All-Americans, and sent eight players to Division I programs, and 11 to DIII institutions.

He began his collegiate playing career as a two-year starter on defense/LSM at Guilford College in 1986 and 87. Following his sophomore campaign in 1987, Rossi transferred to Syracuse University where he became a member of the Orangemen's lacrosse "home" team as a walk on during the spring of 1988, where he played for one season. He later graduated from Syracuse in 1990 with a BS in Marketing Management.

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