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Laxicon010: Army Lacrosse Head Coach discusses leadership and team building

Jan. 8, 2016

At the end of each season Coach Alberici has a ceremony that he derived from his days of working with Mike Pressler at Duke, he arranges the locker room so that all of the seniors are up in front and then juniors, sophomores and freshmen are in the back. Once everyone is arranged he takes the seniors nametag off of his locker and talks about each one of them on a personal basis, not a statistical one. He brings up stories that have taken place over that players 4 years on the team. Stories of how the player overcame adversity to excel, how the player did something special outside of lacrosse to give to others, and other stories such as those. The stories are Coach Alberici’s way of coaching to the underclassmen the kind of person that he is looking for without directly saying it. After Coach is done telling the stories, the senior comes up, grabs his nametag and then walks out of the locker room one last time. This exercise is a real “eye-opener” for a lot of the underclassmen, they start to think about what will be said about them when they are a senior. At the end, everyone moves up a stool in the locker room to symbolize that they are moving up and then Coach talks about what needs to be done going forward for the new team. Some of those things are things that need to be improved on regarding the season they have just finished, some are things from the past that apply to the new team and need to be addressed. Overall it is a very emotional and powerful experience.
Summertime is a good time for small things that may not even be lacrosse related. Coaches need to attend to the whole individual and go to their non-lacrosse related events when possible, at other times just sending them a text asking how their exams went or things like that send the message that the player is valued as a person. Coach also keeps a birthday calendar and contacts them on that day to wish them a happy birthday and let them know he cares about them as someone other than just a lacrosse player. If you are thinking about a player, text them, let them know, it makes a difference.
Team captains are selected by the team including outgoing seniors because he wants them to continue to have a stake in the program. He ensures that players put their name on their vote for captains for the following year. He has players rank order 1 through 3 their choices of captains and he almost always goes with who the team chooses. He wants captains who can come to him with issues, and walk the walk. Coach says that even though he may only have 3 captains he ensures all players know that they all don’t need a “C” on their chest to be a leader on the team.
Despite all of the leadership training that goes on at West Point, Coach Alberici does conduct some separate and focused leadership training, but mostly he has regular captains meetings so that his captains feel empowered to bring issues to him and he actively solicits their feedback on players who may be being inadvertently overlooked and who need some of the coaches attention.
In terms of team activities and community service, the team does a Jimmy Regan run together in honor of Sgt James J. Regan who was a lacrosse player at Duke who graduated with a degree in Economics and was headed to a lucrative career on Wall Street when he decided that he needed to volunteer to fight for his country and was subsequently killed in action in Iraq. They have also taken groups down to Harlem and done clinics there to support the lacrosse development in the inner city areas as well as held free clinics at West Point, and there are many other team oriented activities they do that can be fit into their very limited time available as cadets.
Regarding goal setting, Coach Alberici has all his players come in during the fall and address 5 different categories and assess them. 1. Strengths 2. Areas for improvement 3. Individual goals (including academic) 4. Team goals (Beat Navy,

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