In the NESCAC, Tufts is the cream of the crop.
Led by alum Casey D’Annolfo (West Hartford, Conn.), the Jumbos have cut a swath in the New England region as one of the best teams in Division 3, winning NESCAC titles in 2018, ’19 and ’21.
With a fast-paced offense and a hard-hitting defense, it’s easy to see why Tufts is one of the most popular D-3 destinations for regional and national players.
On the latest episode of “New England Lacrosse Journal’s Chasing the Goal” podcast, D’Annolfo sat down with Jack Piatelli and Kyle Devitte to talk about a wide range of topics.
From his early beginnings in the sport to his meteoric rise in the coaching ranks at his alma mater, he did not disappoint with his insight or anecdotes — especially when it came to talking about being a three-sport athlete at Tufts.
The full podcast can be accessed below.
Kyle Devitte: You’re not only the head coach at Tufts, you’re also an alum. How does that impact you personally and as a coach?
Casey D’Annolfo: I think everything you do becomes personal. You’re just that much more invested not just in your team, but in the program and the university. So, you’re trying to have a positive impact on these guys. You know what they can become. You have a great responsibility to make the program better than when you found it. That’s a high bar that coach (Mike) Daly and his group set (for us). You think, “How can we make a bigger impact on the university?” It gives me a really good perspective on the program, where we have been, and ideally where we are going as well.
Jack Piatelli: You were a three-sport athlete at Tufts. You don’t see many athletes at any level playing more than two sports these days. How important is it for you to recruit multi-sport athletes, and do your multi-sport athletes tend to be your better lacrosse players?
CD: I think that it’s very important. Again, we can’t exclusively recruit multi-sport guys just because that’s not necessarily where the sport is trending. But I love the multi-sport guys because they bring a different perspective. They bring more background knowledge.
If you recruit a basketball guy — it’s easy to teach a basketball guy about the two-man game; it’s easy to teach a basketball guy how to rotate defensively. You recruit hockey guys, you know those guys are going to be animals off the wings; you know they’re going to be great in tight spaces. Football guys are going to have that inherent discipline and toughness.
Mac Bredahl is one of the best players in the country and he’s a good golfer, so he has a short memory. He doesn’t let one bad tee shot or one bad play get him down.
KD: The NESCAC is a very desirable destination for players across the country. Coaches in the NESCAC are competing for similar players. How tough is it to have to cap your recruiting class and does the time constraint change when you’re recruiting juniors or seniors?
CD: One of the more challenging parts, and one of the more exciting parts, is that since I have been here every class has been different. The Class of 2018 is now seniors; that was my first recruiting class, so with the first class, you’re starting to figure out how you want to recruit your guys and build your program.
Now, you can’t recruit freshmen (and) you can’t recruit sophomores. Then COVID happens. Then the transfer portal becomes a player. And we went test-optional as many of the other NESCACs do. So I think every year brings its own challenges. I think we have gotten better about trying to figure out what our number is of guys we want to bring in versus do we want to save some room for guys that may come in from the transfer portal.