By KATE LARKIN
Kurt Glaeser has been head coach of the University of Mary Washington men’s lacrosse team for 24 seasons, and was head coach of women’s soccer from 1989 to 2007, but became a single sport coach in the 2008-09 season. Glaeser had a background playing lacrosse at the end of his high school career and throughout his college career.
He was captain of his team during his senior year at Western Maryland College and played as a midfielder and an attack. After college, he continued on to play for several club teams. Glaeser expects big things from the men’s lacrosse team this year and entrusts his hope in the young talent.
“I hope that the guys will continue to invest in the process of learning. We have a lot of energy and enthusiasm on the team, and a great team always starts with that,” Glaeser said. “I think that this year they will become smarter and more composed players. But, a smart and composed player with no energy or drive isn’t going to win games. We have to start with the hard work and the energy and then the composure will follow.”
How did you feel about the end of last season?
“We were a strong defensive team, and to get to the semifinals for our conference and lose by one goal, just one goal away from competing in the conference championship, it was disappointing, but I couldn’t be too dissatisfied. Even if we lost that last game 7-6, I feel that we had a strong start to the season, but it’s hard to beat these big teams if you can only score 9 or 10 goals per game.”
What do you expect differently out of this season?
“I think that we are a lot deeper at midfield and attack this season. We have a lot of young talent, and it’s going to take a bit of time for those guys to figure things out at a college level. I think by the end of the year, we will be a phenomenal team, but the guys have to be patient and invest in the process of learning and getting a little bit better each day.”
As you said, a lot of the talent on the team is young right now. Do you expect all of the new freshman to have a positive impact on the team?
“I absolutely do. I think with a little conditioning that great things can be expected of them this year, and especially years to come. There’s so many different factors to put in; the speed of thought, the speed of play, learning how to avoid playing mechanically, and how to be a point guard. Playing at the college level is a whole new game, and these factors take time to adjust to.”
You’ve been a coach here for a while now. What has kept you around for so long?
“I really like the Fredericksburg area. This job was insane my first 15 years here, I was a two sport head coach and I was teaching a number of classes. It’s gradually gotten less insane, but my gray hair was pretty much in place 15 years ago. Becoming a one sport head coach as opposed to a two sport head coach has helped keep the team more competitive. UMW admissions has also been very cooperative with the sports programs in doing what is necessary to keep us competitive.”
The team lost a good number of seniors last year, how do you plan to move on from that?
“On the defensive side, we lost everything at graduation. However, I think what everyone has been able to see in the fall and in the beginning of second semester is that we do have a lot of young talent, and that’s how you move on from losing some strong players. I think that we have some good players who will be able to step up in the future. If one good player is injured, it won’t be the end of the game because we have a lot of players on our team who can pick up the fall. I also think that everyone will get more playing time this year, especially seniors and juniors who didn’t necessarily get a lot of time in the past.”
Tell me about your playing career.
“Well I didn’t pick up a lacrosse stick until I was a senior in high school, but I kept at it and worked on my game all the time, and I was also very fortunate to play with an amazing program and some guys who were headed to play at higher levels. My experience playing with them helped me a lot in college as well. I got a lot of playing time in college and had a lot of success. I was captain of the team my senior year, and we won our conference championship.”
How was your transition from playing lacrosse to coaching it?
“The transition from being a player to a coach was a long process for me. I was still trying to play at 25 years old, and I still physically could, but other life responsibilities came in like family and children. It was a brutal wake up call for me, but it showed me that at some point in time I needed to stop being selfish and take a bullet for my family and do the right thing. This was a tough transition initially because I’ve always thought of myself as an athlete until recently.”
What is the difference between coaching women’s soccer and men’s lacrosse?
“When I started coaching soccer, I had to learn a lot because my background wasn’t as strong. I think that having to learn about the game as I went along taught me a lot about coaching in general and helped me in my methods. I learned how similar coaching and teaching are through this process. Coaching two sports from 1989 to 2007 was good for me in the sense that I was in one season of a sport at a time, but I couldn’t go to watch recruits for the next year play for the other sport. It was definitely stressful.
Having coached and recruited both male and female teams, there are definitely some significant differences between the two. With the guys, I often felt that I had to be more forceful with my message in order to get it across. The ladies seemed to understand without me having to go drill instructor on them. On the other side of that, I feel like the guys do a better job of leaving personality conflicts off the field. They don’t seem to care a whole lot about whether they like you or not on the field as long as they can help you win games. I would stand by that statement under intense scrutiny.”
How did you feel about the first game of this season?
“We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the field, and when you have that many young guys on the field, there are going to be some mistakes made, especially so early in the season. If I could go back, I may have switched some of the positions around, but not all outcomes of a game can be drawn on paper, and I don’t think anything could have been done differently to change the outcome of the game. We’re going to be in a lot of close games, and the boys have to feel that pressure in practice to help adapt to the pressure of the game. It’s important for us to invest in the process, and do the little things well. As we get better at the little things, the wins will take care of themselves.”