On this week’s episode of New England Lacrosse Journal’s “Chasing The Goal” podcast, hosts Kyle Devitte and Jack Piatelli were joined by new UMass Lowell head coach Drew Kelleher.
Kelleher comes to the River Hawks after a seven-year run at Manhattan College. He led a historically successful campaign at Manhattan in 2022, guiding the Jaspers to a 4-2 conference record, their first MAAC championship since 2002, and an appearance in the NCAA playoffs for just the second time ever.
Previously, Kelleher coached at Boston University, Siena and Division 3 Hamilton College.
As a player, he was a consistent scoring threat for UVM, finishing his senior season ranked No. 11 in goals per game in the nation.
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Kyle Devitte: Jack and I were talking before we started recording and one of the things I said was, this dude took Manhattan to a championship in their conference, and that’s no small feat. Super impressive. How do you feel about the achievements that you had with the Jaspers last year and where you’re at now with the River Hawks?
Drew Kelleher: Manhattan was a really special place and I’m really grateful to my players first and foremost, as well as the coaching staff. I had Coach (John) Odierna with me for seven years there and, obviously, he has taken over as a head coach. Now it is really special for me to watch. It was not an easy turnaround and we knew that going in. But we are so proud of what we accomplished; we really felt the change.
Right as COVID hit, we could kind of tell things were trending the right way. But we are really proud of all we accomplished. Winning a MAAC championship this year with those guys was really special. And then this opportunity became real this summer, and for my family and me it felt like the right time. Things aligned, and getting back to New England is just really, really refreshing.
Jack Piatelli: Coach, most of the freshmen coming in this year are on campus now. Were you able to pick up any late players through the portal or through recruiting in the short period of time you’ve been at UMass Lowell?
Drew Kelleher: So … we could have. I chose not to, having been through this at Manhattan and taken over a program that we want to revitalize. I made the decision consciously this year to not divide the locker room. I didn’t want to bring in a “Kelleher guy” mixed amongst the program that is here. And I think there’s talent here, so I wasn’t necessarily desperate to do that.
But I think from a cultural standpoint, and I’ve said that to this locker room, I’m with you. I don’t want to divide this; I don’t want to just over-recruit. I want to evaluate this thing and see what we have and see what we can grow with. And my administrators have reiterated to me countless times, “Let’s not take any shortcuts.” I didn’t want to jump the gun and just bring in somebody who, sure, they might be talented, but my philosophy in recruiting is I want our kind of guys. I think being patient (at Manhattan) helped us, and I think it will help us here.