Steve Moreland played at UMass for legendary coach Dick Garber in the 1980s and was a team captain, one facet of a wonderful experience for him athletically, academically and socially.
Today, he’s trying to help the young athletes he mentors find the right college fit, as head coach at Governor’s Academy and the founder of the NE Twisters club program. He formerly coached at Phillips Academy Andover, and before that enjoyed a successful career in the software industry.
Moreland joined New England Lacrosse Journal’s Chasing The Goal podcast to talk with host Jack Piatelli, whom he first met playing the sport in Australia after college.
The full podcast can be accessed below.
Jack Piatelli: You ended up at a great place (UMass). That’s what we try to do as club directors, right, is find the right place (for the players).
Steve Moreland: You have to love the school, you really do. That’s the other thing that’s changed. Whether it’s D-1 or D-3 or D-2, the sport’s a lot more demanding for kids in college now than it was when you and I played. You really need to love it. But you have to love the school; you need to have an outlet.
For me, I was very fortunate. I loved everything about UMass. It made me a better person. Certainly, it was challenging in lacrosse and it was challenging academically. It brought the best out of me, which is what you want for your kid. But there are so many places to play. I truly believe that for so many of the kids we coach in club, there’s going to be a place to play — even at the (college) club level, by the way. A lot of these programs are so organized, you watch them and you wouldn’t know it’s a club.
If you want to keep playing, you can do it. You can keep playing until you’re an old man like us, Jack.
JP: Did you always know you wanted to be a coach?
SM: I didn’t know, is the answer. It’s funny. The trip to Australia, my father said, you can go, but while you’re over there try to think about what the hell you want to do for the rest of your life. It’s a week before I come home and I’m supposed to have an answer. I did give it some thought: I’d been playing lacrosse for a long time, been playing hockey for a long time. I thought maybe I’ll just go into business and give that a try, see if I’m any good at it.
Then my father calls, a few days before I’m coming back, and said, ‘Coach Garber called. He wants you to coach this spring.’ I thought, let’s just give it a go. I went out to UMass and coached that spring, had a ball.
JP: One of the tougher things we do is try to get players and parents to be realistic about their abilities. How do you approach that?
SM: Honesty is probably the best answer. I try to be very honest with the kids from an early age on. I want them to be consciously aware of what it is they do well: ‘You’re good, but let me tell you exactly what you’re doing well so you can understand it and you can do more of it. Now let’s also talk about what you need to work on, and how to work on it, (have) a plan to work on it.’
I can be very honest with them. It’s coming from a place of love. At the end of the day, all we’re measuring you as a kid against is yourself. We want you to get better.
JP: Are the parents included in these discussions?
SM: I think it’s real important that me and the parent, and me and the kid, are all on the same page in terms of the kid’s development and where they’re going. A lot of times parents will preface an email or preface a phone call with, ‘Hey, sorry to bother you.’ But you gotta. Call me anytime. I’ll answer very honestly whatever it is you ask me.
“New England Lacrosse Journal’s Chasing The Goal” podcast is sponsored by: