Coach Edwards Is A Pioneer In The Lacrosse Goalie Coaching World
Coach Edwards started playing lacrosse in the summers at Camp Dudley in Westport, New York as a ten year old. Camp Dudley is the oldest YMCA in North America with a long pedigree of colegiate excellence and some pretty great lacrosse players. He didn’t start playing lacrosse formally until fifth grade when he attended Derby Academy in Hingham, Mass. It was there, on that fateful spring day, where Mr. Winslow, the teams coach asked, “Hey, who wants to be our goalie?” Always up for trying something new, Coach Edwards said yes.
While at Derby, Coach Edwards fast became the starting goalie of the “Varsity” program of the elementary school. While he ended up playing all positions (He still remembers the first goal he ever scored) he was always drawn to the goalie position. Maybe it was the equipment. Maybe it was that he was guaranteed to see the field for at least half the game, but something about the goal tending position stuck.
In eight grade Coach Edwards transferred from Derby Academy to Thayer Academy in Braintree, Mass where his father was named the music director. Luckily, that was the first year that Thayer had a lacrosse program and Coach Edwards was pegged to be the starting goalie for the high schools new Junior Varsity team. (They didn’t have a varsity program until the following season.) It was great experience for an eighth grader to play with kids as old as Juniors in high school. It was about this time where Coach Edwards had the dream of becoming an All-american and aspirations to play in college.
The Lacrosse Summers
In eighth grade, Coach Edwards signed up as a “free-agent” for the Baggataway Summer Lacrosse League at Babson College in Wellsley, Mass. This was a great place to play. Six fields. All side by side. Six days a week. Coach Edwards was picked up by a team in the Senior Division called the Flantims that was organized by a great guy named Hal Bean. While Coach Edwards was really young for this group, his reputation as a decent goalie, while a bit young, preceded him. Coach Edwards would play with that team for the next four seasons earning incredibly valuable experience. Playing with defense men who had already graduated college, some who had played Division 1 lacrosse, was an eye opener for this now freshman in high school. And to be totally honest, when he went back to his high school team he was often very frustrated playing with his inexperienced teammates.
Coach Edwards would also attend the week-long summer camp at Brown University where Dom Starsia was the coach. Five nights for one week every summer, Coach Edwards’ mom would make the hour long trip down to so he could play. And it was here where he was shot on by his first Division 1 All-American, Jamie Munroe.
A Three Sport Athlete With An Extracurricular Olympic Twist
Coach Edwards lettered seven out of nine seasons while he was at Thayer playing soccer, hockey, and lacrosse. He was predominantly a goalie in every sport but became athletic enough to play every position in every sport he played. There was even a time at Thayer where he was moved to attack where he became one of the teams top goal scorers for a season.
But it was during his freshman year where an interesting invite came to him. Earlier in the summer of Coach Edwards had been exposed to the sport of Luge at Camp Dudley. An Olympic sport, Coach Edwards had tried it on wheeled sleds. Because of his performance at the camp he was invited to try Luge, on ice, in Lake Placid at a national recruitment camp. One of fifty athletes invited to participate for a two week camp at the Olympic Training Center, Coach Edwards ended up staying for five weeks and won his first major competition, The Empire State Games.
Now Coach Edwards had a new dream. Competing in the Olympics. But it would fit nicely with his lacrosse dreams, or so he thought. The years would continue where he would travel in the winters with the US National Luge Team and would return to school in the spring for lacrosse season.
The Connecticut Valley Lacrosse Club
During his sophomore year at Thayer, Coach Edwards got an invitation to play for the Connecticut Valley Lacrosse Club (CVLC) in Somers Connecticut. This was truly a “field of dreams” situation. A local businessman, Culver Modisette, and a lover of lacrosse, converted two corn fields into two lacrosse fields. What an absolutely awesome experience. Each weekend, Coach Edwards would drive the three and a half hours to Somers to play. There, CVLC played the teams of Brine and STX. This was the precursor to todays MLL. Teams like Boston Lacrosse Club and many of the elite senior lacrosse clubs would drive up to Somers to play CVLC. It was here Coach Edwards had the chance to play with some of the nations best lacrosse players. An eye opening experience to say the least and one that would improve his game every season. (Not to mention they had really nice team shorts).
An Olympic Dream and a Lacrosse Dream Combined
While his luge career took off, lacrosse at Thayer was going well, but not great. He was seeing a lot of shots due to the inexperience of the team he was on. And trips to the Syracuse Lacrosse Camp, as well as the Cornell Lacrosse Camps would result in All-star team nominations left and right. But he was running into a “pedigree” problem. See, lacrosse in the Northeast was not as respected as the hotbeds of Long Island and Maryland when it came to recruiting. And while Coach Edwards was putting up great numbers, it was difficult to get the looks he was hoping for out of high school. It was about this time that Coach Edwards was thinking about transferring.
One day, at a CVLC lacrosse game, Coach Edwards’ Mom was sitting next to the wife of one of the defensemen he played with. As mom’s do, she shared that Coach Edwards was a bit unhappy at Thayer. Turns out the coaching staff was not helping his recruiting matters by not attending league meetings where he would be nominated for All-league and other awards. And while the recruiting window was closing, Coach Edwards really wanted to become an All-American and that didn’t seem to be heading that direction at Thayer. She also shared his Olympic aspirations and that Thayer was making the academic requirements incredibly difficult for him to do both successfully. While his Olympic aspirations were taking off, his academic results were suffering because he need to travel and wasn’t in school physically.
Prep School Lacrosse
Turns out that defense man was Coach Jeff Snow. He was the assistant lacrosse coach at Lawrence Academy. Lawrence was also in the Independent School League, had an incredible head coach and established lacrosse program (unlike Thayer), and it also had a Lawrence 2 program that could adjust to Coach Edward’s schooling needs as he pursued his dream of making the Olympics.
It seemed like a no brainer. And with a few interviews, and a farewell to Thayer, Coach Edwards transferred to Lawrence and decided to repeat his Junior year so that he could have an extra year of recruiting and an extra year to become an All-American. During his time at Lawrence, Coach Edwards made huge strides becoming one of the top lacrosse goalies in the Independent School League. Opposing teams would post his picture in their locker room for inspiration/aggravation. By the end of his senior year he was named All-American.
A note from Coach Edwards: Becoming an All-American was, for me, a huge accomplishment. I really wanted to earn that award, especially coming out of New England. But something that was even better was being named to the East/West Prep School All-Star Game where I would be going up against a goalie from Avon Old Farms who was headed to the North/South Game down in Maryland. (What is now the Under Armour All American Game). I wasn’t picked for that game, probably due to a lack of politicking on our part. But I wanted to play head to head and see how I fared.
I lit it up. I think the score at the end of my half was 2-7. I had let in the two. And that goalie headed down to the North South game let in the seven. I was pretty excited. The second half was a disaster and our other goalie let in a bundle. People in the stands were calling for me to go back in. As it was, I was the MVP for the game. I gave up going to a graduation party to play in that game!)
What To Do After Graduation
While Coach Edwards had been recruited by a number of schools nothing was really catching his eye. That, and the winter Olympics were only a year away. Coach Edwards decided to defer college and focus on training for the 1992 Winter Olympics. Ultimately, Coach Edwards and his teammate would be left off that team in a cruel Olympic selection process. While they were the fastest doubles team on the National Team after only three years of training together, they lost an incredibly close race off back in Lake Placid, NY that would leave them tragically off the team. Because of this result the US Olympic Committee would encourage USA Luge to revamp their selection process so this wouldn’t happen again in the future. (The following year at the World Cup in Albertville, France, with a full Olympic field, Coach Edwards and his teammate would win their first ever World Cup medal. A silver.)
With the pain of being left off the Olympic team pretty fresh, Coach Edward decided to defer college again. The International Olympic Committee had decided to stagger the summer and winter Olympics. With that decision the next winter Olympics would be two years away in Lillehammer, Norway. Coach Edwards decided, with the next Olympics being so close, that he would continue to train and play lacrosse casually until his twenty-first birthday without losing NCAA Division 1 eligibility.
The Tournament That Changed It All
In the summer of 1993 Coach Edwards was in Lake Placid living at the Olympic Training Center when a friend of his asked him if he would like to play in a lacrosse tournament in Lake Placid. “Sure!” he said, not really knowing what it was going to be all about. Turned out his friend knew a very successful business man with a summer home in Lake Placid. This man organized a team of Division 1 players and graduates from…wait for it…Syracuse University! “Seriously?” he asked?
This team was called the Rochester Knights and Coach Edwards was invited to be the back up. The starting goalie? Matt Palumb. Matt is one of the best lacrosse referees in the world right now. But back then he was also a Division 1 All-American at Syracuse with the Gait brothers. He won not one, not two, but three National Titles. And in 1988 he was the MVP of the Championship Final. Not too shabby.
A Note From Coach Edwards:
So here was my chance to back up for a proven college All-American and to get shot on by other All-Americans. I didn’t care if it was only in warmups! And the way summer tournaments go I knew I’d get some playing time. The first day I grabbed Charlie Lockwood who was nicknamed “Juice” to warm me up. Charlie was a four-time All-American at Syracuse. He was about to become a USA World Team member in 1994 (And again in 1998). And he was the MLL Rookie of the Year in 1995. Probably one of the best shooters I’d faced just because he was “jacked” this was awesome. I remember smelling burning rubber coming off my stick as I made saves off of him. A few went by me. But I got most of them and made him rip ’em because this was just more training for me.
After we almost killed a kid when I tipped a ball of my stick over the cross bar. Charlie asked me, “Where did you play?” I didn’t have an answer because I hadn’t gone yet. Later that game, I would get the chance to start because Matt Palumb partied too hard the night before. I had a great half and we were winning when Matt finally showed up. I was a little bummed that he had. At half time I was sitting on the bench with another Syracuse All-American, Steve Scaramuzzino. Steve was an undersized, but amazing, long pole. And he was a blast to play with. He sat down with me and said, “Where’d you play?” Again, the answer was, “I don’t. I haven’t gone to college yet. I’m training for the Olympics.” To which he said, “There are a lot of teams that would love to have a guy like you.”
That summer I also played with the Connecticut Valley Lacrosse Club on a tour of Australia. The tour got completely messed up with players abandoning ship and heading to Fiji early to party. But all in all it was a great experience and one where I got some great exposure. At the end of the summer we played in the Glastonberry tournament in Connecticut where we won the B division as the A division was all of the soon-to-be MLL clubs. One of my best memories was making a huge stop on a behind the back shot, in tight, and hearing this deep, dark, very gravely voice yell, “Nice stop goalie!” It was Sal Locasio of UMASS Amherst and soon to be Long Island Lizard. My lacrosse goalie idol growing up.
From that summer of tournament play word quickly spread that there was this goalie, almost twenty-one year old, who still had his full eligibility for Division 1 lacrosse. Now the interest came, and Coach Edwards was on the phone, a bunch. Schools from Division 3 to Division 1. When it all settled, Coach Edwards was considering Roanoke in Virginia, UMASS Amherst, and the University of Notre Dame. But Ultimately, the sport of Luge would pull Coach Edwards away from college completely.
Coach Edwards: The interest was awesome. And it felt so good to be recognized. I knew I was a good goalie all along and I knew I could play. That may sound cocky, but I truly knew I could play and all of the experiences leading up to that made me think that way. Ultimately, I really feel pedigree hurt me. But not as much as not getting on the phone to the coaches at the schools where I really wanted to play. I was torn between the Olympics and playing Division 1 lacrosse. Coach Corrigan from Notre Dame flew me out for a tour and a visit for a couple days. It was awesome, and ironically the goalie I would have replaced was the public school All-American, Ryan Jewell. Ryan and I had attended some of the same recruiting events and camps back when I originally graduated high school and here I was now coming in as a freshman, and he was graduating.
I had just come off the highest finish ever for the United States in the sport of Luge in Olympic history and the quest for an Olympic medal was fresh in my mind. I still remember telling Coach Corrigan on the phone from my parents house in South Weymouth, “Coach, I don’t think I’m going to come. I think I’m going to stick it out and go to the Olympics again.” His words to me were, “Son, It will be your biggest regret ten years from now, not coming to play lacrosse.” He was right. And in many ways it still is for me as I coach young athletes coming up. I’d like to think I would have been one of a long list of accomplished goalies that have gone to Notre Dame and would have helped them win won of those very elusive titles.
The following year, Coach Edwards and his Doubles partner in luge would split, and he would continue to train as a singles slider winning the Nations Cup Title in Men’s Luge.
From there Coach Edwards would stay involved in the sport, coaching goalies all over as he continued to train in the sport of luge. He started the LacrosseGoalieTips.com blog on a free site starting way back in 1999. What started out as a free email newsletter to a few goalies who he trained has now grown into the most widely ready lacrosse goalie blog on the planet.