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A Conversation With Gary Gait

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
While traveling with his nationally-ranked Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team, legendary player and women’s head coach Gary Gait graciously spent some time on the phone being interviewed by senior writer Lee Roggenburg to discuss some of the issues facing the game as well as to preview his team’s game with the Florida Gators last Saturday. Lee first asked him about his team, specifically his three Tewaaraton Award listees, Alyssa Murray, Michele Tumolo and Becca Block. Gait noted that “Murray and Tumolo were the most lethal attack combination in America.  Michele was a finalist last year.  Both are strong dodgers and Michele tends to be the feeder.  Becca is a defender, a superb athlete, clears the ball and basically does it all.  She spent time on the U.S. National Team and benefited greatly from the experience”. Lee then noted that Gary’s daughter is a freshman and how would it be like to coach your daughter?  Gary chuckled and mentioned that his daughter, Taylor (who by the way wears her Dad’s legendary number 22) had injured her ACL and would be red-shirted this year so he would have to wait until next year to answer the question. FLN then asked why play here?  Gary responded that “the Orange Bowl Committee called and asked us to participate.  As a program we love to play in the bigger events, such as Boston last year.” When asked how it was different coaching the women’s game versus the men’s game he noted two main factors:  “With the women’s game the first thing I had to do was study the rule book to understand the difference in the rules.  Then I coached to the rules.  With motivation it was definitely different.  With the women I focused on their personalities and how they react.  They tend to like to help each other.  With the men you can sometimes go after them a little more.” When asked about recruiting Florida players he mentioned “we watch the Florida club teams and recruit through those.  We haven’t had any success with recruiting Florida players yet but we are going to keep trying.  We have a national recruiting focus”. We then asked him about whether the women’s game might evolve more towards the men’s game, with maybe some more contact or equipment changes. He responded by noting that the women’s game is in the middle of their 2-year rules cycle so that they are just currently in the discussion phase, while the men’s game is in the first year of the new changes.  He did indicate that the same issue of stalling that the men’s game focused on in the last cycle is likely to also be addressed by the women’s rules committee.  His feeling was more of looking at a shot clock in the box.  He did not foresee equipment changes as a likely focus. The last item we brought up for him was his opinion on the issue of being a dedicated athlete in the sport of lacrosse versus being a multi-sport athlete, and which was better for the player.  This brought out his most surprising opinion: “The multi-sport athlete is the better athlete.  In all likelihood the multi-sport athlete was playing other sports before they played lacrosse.  If a player played lacrosse only it was because they maybe were not the best athlete and decided they had to concentrate on one sport.” FLN thanks Coach Gait for the time he gave us and wishes his Orange the best the rest of the season.