January 5, 2012

Cottle Introduced as Chesapeake Bayhawks Coach

Former Maryland coach says 'no better job than the one I have right now'

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Former Maryland coach Dave Cottle has been on the sidelines the last two seasons with the Bayhawks as an assistant, like in Chesapeake's "Hurricane Game" against Boston last August in the MLL semifinals. Now, Cottle is head coach.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

This was the plan in the summer of 2010 when Chesapeake Bayhawks owner Brendan Kelly hired former Maryland coach Dave Cottle to be a consultant for the Major League Lacrosse franchise.

Kelly ideally wanted Cottle to be his team's coach, but having been freshly removed from his job at Maryland, Cottle wasn't prepared to return to the sideline. Instead, he functioned behind the scenes. He emailed out scouting reports on opposing players and game planned during the week for the Bayhawks' weekend games as the team rebounded from a midseason five-game losing streak.

By championship weekend, however, Cottle was on the bench as an assistant coach when Chesapeake won the 2010 MLL title. Last season, Cottle added the title of team president to his Bayhawks resume and, this offseason, when Kelly decided to relinquish head coaching duties, there was only one person who would coach the team in 2012. Cottle – if he wanted to.

Turns out the time was right.

Cottle was introduced Thursday morning by Kelly as the Bayhawks' new head coach during a 15-minute conference call in which both took questions from media.

"I wanted to make sure Brendan didn't want to keep doing this," Cottle said of his initial hesitation to replace Kelly, who bought the team before the 2010 season and replaced then-coach John Tucker halfway through the year to lead the team to the MLL title. "He had done such a great job with the organization. When he told me he was going to step down, I wanted him to take some time and reflect on if he wanted to keep doing this thing, because he brings a certain passion and leadership.

"When I first started, I wasn't against coaching, I was against coaching right away," Cottle said. "But I became attached to the guys in the locker room. I became attached to Brendan's philosophy for this organization. We're going to get these guys going in the right direction. We're going to be a team that everybody in this league wants to model themselves after. Nothing would make me feel better than if we can get this team to play as well as we want them that we'll be hoisting the Steinfeld Cup in August."

Said Kelly: "I think he's one of the legends of the game. To convince him to coach this year and really lead the Chesapeake Bayhawks in the future is a whole other step for the organization, and for the league. It says where the MLL is and where the MLL is going by getting guys like Dave Cottle involved as the president and now as the head coach."

"When I bought the team, I never planned on coaching. Things happened, it worked out well. The goal for me was to get Dave to coach. But I think it was important for both of us to spend a year doing it together, feel both sides out and make sure this was something that we wanted to commit long-term to. It was never a question in my mind that Dave would be the coach if he were willing to do it. The guys responded to him greatly, even the Hopkins and Virginia guys came to like him over time. It was a no-brainer for me."

There was no actual coaching search. Cottle will continue to work in the front office with Kelly and new general manager Brian Reese, who arrived this offseason after years in the same role from the Denver Outlaws. Cottle and Kelly joked during the call when asked if Cottle would remain team president and how the dynamic would work, seeing as Cottle's title as president, put him above that of Reese, who is above him as coach. In response, Cottle said Kelly was nodding his head yes, meaning he is still president, while sitting next to him.

"Last year we had dilemma. Could the president fire the coach if he was also the owner?" Cottle joked. Clearly, it shouldn't be an issue. "If we feel after a year that somebody could be better at this, the president will hire that guy," he said.

Cottle and Reese, who may join the coaching staff as an assistant, have worked through the offseason MLL expansion and supplemental drafts and have been working to evaluate player personnel for the upcoming collegiate draft, held Jan. 13 at the US Lacrosse National Convention in Philadelphia.

Chesapeake will likely choose a close defenseman, like Princeton's Chad Wiedmaier or Duke's Mike Manley, or a long pole in the first round and add goalie depth behind former Boston goaltender Kip Turner, who the Bayhawks picked up in December's expansion draft.

Cottle said he's had offers to coach college programs since leaving Maryland where, in what became his final season there, he was expected to guide the Terrapins to the final four or else his job would be in jeopardy.

A Salisbury graduate, Cottle spent 19 years coaching at Loyola (Md.), leading the Greyhounds to 181 wins and 14 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament. In 2001, Cottle became coach at Maryland and won 99 games and made eight NCAA tournaments through 2010.

But he's content where he is at right now in the pro game. He lives in Annapolis, Md., where the Bayhawks practice and play their home games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and has enjoyed his time working with professional players.

"I've had some job offers in the last year or so," Cottle said. "There is no better job than the one I have right now.

"The biggest misnomer in the lacrosse world is that pro players don't care and they don't want to listen. I don't see that at all. We got a group of 35 guys that care ... and want to be coached. The old days in the MLL, roll the ball out and play, is over with.

"There's nothing against college coaching but right now this is a special place and we have special people that work here and play for us. I felt really comfortable from Brendan on down to Brian Reese to people in our front office, to our ticket sellers, that we're going to make this thing work. We're building something here for the future, and it's exciting."

Kelly said having an established figure such as Cottle take over the coaching duties made it very easy for him to step away from that role.

"I'm not sure that there is anybody else that I would have stepped away for," Kelly said. "Dave's passion can rival my passion any day of the week when it comes to the sport and the game itself.

"It's the ideal situation," he said.

MLL Coaching Turnover Note

It's been a year of turnover in the MLL coaching ranks. Only one team -- the Hamilton Nationals, led by Regy Thorpe -- has the same coach that it did at the start of the 2011 season. Long Island is still seeking to replace Jim Mule just over a week before the collegiate draft, Rochester fired Jody Gage midway through last season, Jim Stagnitta replaced Tom Slate in Denver, former Boston coach Bill Daye resigned after the Cannons' championship season and now Cottle takes over the Bayhawks. The expansion Charlotte Hounds and Ohio Machine begin their first seasons with Mike Cerino and Ted Garber as head coaches, respectively. In any case, there will be some new faces at the MLL collegiate draft next Friday.

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