When Mike Daly (Westfield, Mass.) was hired as the men’s lacrosse coach at Brown on July 1, 2016, he immediately stood out among the 71 head coaches in Division 1.
As the only one who wasn’t a former player.
Daly’s coaching record speaks for itself: three NCAA titles at the D-3 level during his eight seasons at Tufts and trips to the Ivy League tournament his first three seasons at Brown, whose spring was limited to a single game against Boston University after the Ivy League opted not to have a season.
Daly joined host Jack Piatelli on the “Chasing The Goal” podcast to talk about his unique road to coaching and the frustrations of this spring, among other topics.
The full podcast can be accessed below.
Jack Piatelli: When you were hired (at Brown) you were the only Division 1 coach who hadn’t played the game. That’s impressive.
Mike Daly: It’s surreal. It really is. I just played football, basketball, baseball like so many kids. I went to Tufts and had a great career there. Then as a graduate assistant, the athletic director at the time assigned me assistant football, assistant lacrosse. I learned from this guy Patrick King, a great UMass player and a Concord-Carlisle guy. He was the other (lacrosse) assistant and he just recited everything that was going on. I loved the sport and just learned as much as I could from him.
The (head) lacrosse coach was also the offensive coordinator in football. He left in January and they made me the coach in February. That was how crazy it all started and happened.
JP: You took over a program at Tufts that had lost 24 straight league games. In the first meeting you had with the team you wrote on the board, “Memorial Day weekend.” Explain what the thought was and how they reacted to that.
MD: It was borderline crazy. I knew there would be resentment, resistance to me being hired. It’s natural. I don’t blame anyone. But I had an unbelievable experience at Tufts, my football and baseball careers, my teammates and coaches and friends, the college experience you’d want for your kids. At the time, clearly, the lacrosse kids weren’t receiving that same experience.
That was my mission at first, to make sure they had that same positive experience, that they were walking away with that same love of Tufts, love of their teammates and love of the program. I think winning is obviously a huge part of that and that wasn’t happening. The pinnacle of winning was Memorial Day weekend. It’s funny to talk about. I’m standing there as a 26-year-old guy who’d never played the sport, taking over a program that had lost 24 consecutive league games. In hindsight we just changed the standards and changed the expectations.
JP: You played five games two years ago. One game this past year (against Boston University) with no Ivy League. It’s got to be tough.
MD: We had a Holy Cross game that was cancelled due to some of their issues. We had another BU game that was cancelled due to Colgate’s issues. What was really tough to swallow was that by the time things started to kind of open up for us, everyone was starting to get into conference play. Providence is hosting the Big East tournament. Bryant is rebounding, getting guys back from injuries and COVID issues, and didn’t want to take the chance to play us.
That was our goal all along, to get to that five-game threshold and get to the NCAA tournament. We did everything we could and our players did everything they could. We had essentially our entire roster on campus.
JP: You plan on having 14-16 games next year?
MD: Fifteen would be our target. We typically have not played in the fall to preserve those (practice) dates for the spring, but we really feel we need to play this fall for the first time since I’ve been there, to play maybe a single day where you play a couple teams, to get the young guys experience and to get everyone experience at this point.