USA's Shriver - The Best College Coach in Prep Lacrosse
By Chris Ely
Nearly a month after the fact, Bob Shriver can still feel the flood of emotions he experienced when the final whistle sounded at Towson University and his Under-19 Team USA captured the World Championship. "It was a sense of relief, really. We had never lost a game in world competition and none of us wanted to be the first team to lose. But we got it done and it was a feeling of elation. But at the same time, I felt a bit of sadness. After all, this would be the last time this group ever played together."
For Shriver, the July 5th 19-10 title game victory over Team Canada wrapped up an exhaustive process that began a year and a half ago when he was selected as the head coach from a group of 21 candidates. "We initially had a group of 250 players from all over the country. We pared that down to 120. No area of the nation was allowed more than 12 players - a good rule. Then we held tryouts at UMBC last summer to choose the final 23 man roster." Shriver describes the process as exhausting, but very fair.
Following another successful spring season at Boys' Latin School in Baltimore, Shriver ran a pair of lacrosse camps then jumped right into the World Games job, traveling a couple of times up to Long Island for practices, then back to Baltimore for final preps just before competition began. Asked about the differences he found between coaching a prep school team and a team of all-stars, most of which had already completed their first year of college, Shriver said "Well, it was coaching lacrosse, making sure they executed the fundamentals, so that part was the same. But it's not like high school, where you have your team for three months. We only had 2-3 weeks to coach a group of elite players from all over the country. That part was different. But I could not have had a greater group of kids. They were just tremendous, fun to be around, but they knew when it was time to get serious. There were times when we could get on them for their execution, but there was never any doubt about their effort. There was never any lack of effort."
Want proof? As Team USA worked its way through the tournament, the rest the world could not offer much of a challenge. Shriver's team outscored the other world teams by about 60 goals to 20. "Team Canada was beating us 9-8 in the 3rd quarter the first time we met, but we remained confident and went on to beat them 14-10. Over the course of an 80 minute game, we found we could exert our will. And the best part was - this team got better as the tournament went on."
Now, after adding a World's Championship to his impressive record encompassing two dozen seasons at Boys' Latin School, one must wonder if, or when, Shriver will make the jump to college lacrosse. He has had his Lakers at or near the top of the most demanding high school league in the country nearly every season. Longtime referee Tom Young calls games in Boys' Latin's league "college lacrosse on the high school level."
Shriver has sent countless players on to Division I schools, has presided over a staff of assistant coaches, some of which have gone on to become high school head coaches themselves, and now has coached college age players himself. Shriver says three of the best Division I coaches in the country, Dave Cottle (Maryland), Tony Seaman (Towson), and Bill Tierney (Princeton) went from high school programs to the college ranks.
And though Shriver professes an interest in coaching on the college level, surprisingly, no college program has yet to recruit him. "Would I like a chance to coach a college team? Absolutely. But I would be nervous about things like the NCAA rules and restrictions and recruiting, things like that. Besides, there are not many Division I teams hiring head coaches these days. Most schools are pretty stable. On that level, an athletic director would be sticking his neck out hiring a high school guy. I kind of see it as the Bob Wade-Jerry Faust sort of syndrome. (Wade went from a highly successful Dunbar High School basketball program to the University of Maryland and failed miserably; Faust was hired by Notre Dame following a great high school football career at Moeller High and met a similar fate.) Would I be interested in a Division III, job? Maybe. But that would mean moving to a small town and probably starting at a low salary. I like living in my hometown of Baltimore, and I love it at Boys' Latin (along with coaching varsity lacrosse, Shriver teaches middle school science). They have been wonderful to me and my family. I have shown an interest in taking over a college team, but for now, I really like it where I am. If the right situation came up (either as a head coach or an assistant), maybe it would happen, but it would have to be the perfect situation."
For now, Shriver is enjoying his world championship, getting reunited with his family, and working on lowering his handicap on the golf course. But for this lacrosse coach, the sticks are not far away. Shriver is lending his expertise at various lacrosse camps this summer. It seems this is one coach who, even after conquering the world, never tires of new challenges.