On this week’s episode of New England Lacrosse Journal’s “Chasing The Goal” podcast, hosts Kyle Devitte and Jack Piatelli were joined by longtime Keene State head coach Mark Theriault.
In 2022–23, Theriault will coach his 23rd season. Having won six Little East Conference tournament championships and participated in the NCAA Division 3 tournament over the previous eight seasons, he has led the Owls to a high level of success.
Regarded as one of the cornerstone teams in the D-3 landscape in New England, the Keene State program has been integral to the growth of lacrosse in New Hampshire.
In the podcast, Theriault talks about how he came to the sport and his experience building up Keene into a regional power.
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Jack Piatelli: You got started (coaching) at a pretty young age. What have you learned over the course of your 23 years to become a better coach and a better recruiter?
Mark Theriault: For me, back in the day, when I was in my 20s, just full of total piss and vinegar, back then it was a win-at-all-costs kind of thing. And for me, now, it’s one of those things that it’s about the experience. None of us in Division 3 are passing out scholarships. So I really feel there has to be this intrinsic motivation from these kids to say, “Hey, I wanna come to a D-3 school. I wanna come to Keene and I need to do the work.” And it’s not just practicing (from) 4 to 6 … they’re working out in the weight room, they’re hitting the books in the classroom and doing all those things.
It is about the big picture now. I’ve had some pretty good success there, but a lot of ways I measure success now is my relationship with my alumni. We had our 25th anniversary this past fall, and we had about 83 alums come back and it was just a phenomenal experience.
Jack Piatelli: Speaking of goalies, you’ve got an outstanding goalie in your family. His name is Connor Theriault and he was first-team All-Ivy last year at Brown. My son (John) had a chance to play against him and he had a tough game because your son stopped him about 10 times.
Talk a little bit, as a parent, about bringing your kids up and the whole recruiting process. How you handled it and how Connor ended up at Brown. Because I think it would be great for our listeners.
Mark Theriault: Well, let me first off, Jack, take this (Keene) hat off and I’ll put my Brown lacrosse hat on. That way, I’m repping Connor right now. I’m just completely proud of him and his twin brother, Jack, who actually plays down at Washington College.
Again, they’re both multi-sport athletes. They played soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse just like dad. It was nice that soccer season was soccer season, and hockey was hockey, and then we moved into lacrosse.
As a parent, I felt as a college coach, it was really important for me to give both my kids, both the twins, the opportunity to pick the school that they wanted to go to. I pushed Jack a little bit to come to Keene. But I think he got some interest from Washington College and even Springfield College. I pushed that as well. We went down to see Coach (Keith) Bugbee. But Jack wanted to be in control of his college decision. And I a hundred percent supported that.
And with Connor, I think it was a little bit more of a business transaction. He went down to Rutgers. He dabbled with Harvard and Yale and he went to Bryant when Coach (Mike) Pressler and Casey Broderson, one of my ex-players from Keene State, were there. When we stepped on the campus at Brown, Connor goes, “I just feel comfortable here.”