January 10, 2013

Former Lion Gold aims to turn things around at Emerson

By Phil Shore

The Emerson College men’s lacrosse team has gone 3-20 in the past two seasons and will now play under its third head coach in four years. 

This time, however, the new coach will be a familiar face and he is optimistic about turning the team’s fortunes around.

Dan Gold was given the reins of the Lions in September, just months after playing in his final game for the team. An attackman from Randolph, N.J., Gold played the past three seasons on Emerson’s team, acting as co-captain in the last two. In 35 career games, he scored 55 goals and tallied 35 assists.

Now he has the challenge of leading the Lions from the sidelines.

“I’ve always wanted to coach and thought I’d be good at it,” Gold said. “It’s been a huge learning experience. It’s my first job in the professional world, the first time I’ve had an office. But it’s teaching me how to manage people.”

Previous coach Nathaniel Mayo stepped down after the 2012 season, his second in charge of the Lions. A search for the next coach lasted through the summer.

Gold says he wanted to keep his lacrosse experience with Emerson going and met with interim athletic director Stan Nance several times over the summer about taking the coaching vacancy, finally convincing Nance to take a chance on him in September.

“[Nance has] been very supportive of me and he’s been a great mentor,” Gold said.

The players, Gold’s former teammates, were glad to know leadership was in place and they could get to work on the field.

“I was pretty excited because we didn’t have a head coach. Having anyone appointed was good,” senior captain and defenseman Matt Ulrich said. “But Dan, he’s played with everyone, he knows how the team works and he understands the schedule restrictions and how much work we have as students. He’ll be a more understanding coach and he’ll know how to work with what we’ve got.”

Gold said the beginning of fall-ball was “helter-skelter” because of the uncertainty surrounding the coaching position.

Once he held the position, though, he made sure everyone got their paperwork and physicals turned in and salvaged eight practices and gathered 20 players. That’s something of an anomaly for Emerson considering in 2011 they went to the quarterfinals of the GNAC playoffs with a roster of only nine players due to classroom commitments.

While Gold is friends with the guys he played with, Ulrich noted there is a change in the relationship they will have to have with him.

“There has to be a certain distance you keep with him,” he said. “Even though he is a friend and played with us and we don’t want to exclude him, you have to create that coach-player relationship.”

Gold says that while it sounds weird at first, as time has gone on and continues to do so, his new position with the team will become more and more natural.

“I thought it was going to be a much weirder transition than it was,” he said. “I think when the guys heard it they naturally questioned it a little but once I hit the field and started coaching the kids responded to it because they wanted a coach. The guys crave someone to be active.”

Now with a coach in place, Emerson can focus on playing lacrosse. Gold’s strategy for a team that’s struggled recently: go back to the basics.

“We really want a committed group of guys that want to play and want to work hard,” he said. “As for lacrosse, it’s just being very fundamentally sound; not getting too crazy with offenses or defenses but just being able to throw and catch and be in shape. We’re not playing Syracuse. We’re playing D3 GNAC teams. If we don’t make mistakes like dropping the ball or not sliding then we’re going to be competitive.”

Gold also believes that, being an Emerson student himself, he will be able to recruit the right type of students and really show the best of what the communication, film and theatre school has to offer.

Ulrich and Gold both shared excitement for the upcoming season. Their relationship may have changed, but they still share the same goal. And just like when he was a player, Gold insists that he and the rest of the team will all have to work together to have success.

“It’s going to be a team effort. We’re going to have a small team so everyone needs to be involved and committed. We really are all in this together,” he said. “We were 1-9 last year. If we win two games, we improved 100 percent. We have nothing to lose.” 

Twitter: @PShore15
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