After four years at the helm of Oswego State’s men’s lacrosse program, Ryan Martin stepped down in September to take a job as an assistant coach at Division I Hartford University.
Martin never applied for another job during his time at Oswego State and recognizes the immense amount of potential Oswego State has to be successful this year, but this past summer the head coach at Hartford and long-time friend of Martin, Peter Lawrence, came to him with a job offer he could not pass up for a multitude of reasons.
“You have to think about yourself and your own career, and the opportunity here to coach Division I with coach Lawrence and coach Rife, with a program on the rise, in a conference that’s one of the better conferences in Division I, or at least a very competitive one at least, the American East,” Martin said. “Also, a chance to live in West Hartford, Connecticut, which is a beautiful town and a great place to live and work and certainly a lot more opportunities for my wife here, as well, than in Oswego or central New York.”
Prior to taking the head-coaching job at Oswego State in 2010, Martin was a graduate assistant at Nazareth College. While at Nazareth, Lawrence reached out to Martin as well, but he turned down the job at the time because he was finishing his degree.
At Oswego State, Martin finished with an overall record of 27-32, 3-21 in SUNYAC play. Throughout his tenure, the Lakers were known for their talented offense. While the team was unable to capitalize in SUNYAC competitions, Martin’s squads excelled overall. At the end of the 2014 season, Oswego State had the 80th ranked offense in Division III, out of 209 schools.
After officially accepting the job at Hartford, Martin first informed Oswego State Athletic Director Sue Viscomi, and then his assistant coaches. Among those coaches were two newly hired assistants, Adam Knapton and Josh Maciorowski. Martin also approached his fellow coaches about the move, and sent an email to alumni about the switch and state of the team. Finally, Martin made sure he had a face-to-face conversation with all his players.
Martin worked very hard in his final weeks at Oswego State to get the program in a situation for the next coach to come in and really have everything in tact. He has the utmost confidence in the assistant coaching staff he put together prior to departing.
Senior captain Cody Hoose, along with his four fellow captains, are continuing to work on keeping the team’s spirit up in this time of uncertainty.
“We have five great captains that we’re calling on right now, as well, that are basically taking over the team and making sure everyone sticks together and having the rookies not have the coach that brought them in here puts a damper on things, but we made sure right on the day coach left, all five of us, brought the team together, sat them down and said, ‘We’re going to be all right. We’ll be fine. We’ll get through this,’” Hoose said.
The five senior captains, which also include Nick Giampaolo, Matt Palmer, Ryan Kennish and Kyle Wistner, have been running fall practices, including three weeks of captain’s practices before the school year began. The team practices three days a week and have three scrimmages scheduled as well. The final one is on Sunday against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Hartwick College.
Giampaolo firmly believes the squad will continue to work hard, even as, it has to work individually instead of as a team starting this upcoming week. Per NCAA rules, the team must stop officially meeting after this week, due to a limit on the number of fall practices it can hold.
“Coach or not, we’re still going to come out here and work hard everyday,” Giampaolo said. “When the fall’s over, we’re going to be lifting and working on our sticks in the offseason. Coach or not, that still doesn’t really change the work ethic. We have held the entire team to that standard of what we expect.”
Besides touting a high-powered offense over the past four years, Oswego State also had a string of solid goalies. This, in large part, had to do with Martin’s coaching ability, a decorated keeper himself during his four years as a player at Ithaca College. Although Martin is gone, Hoose feels certain, with a skilled defense and a year of experience for sophomore Wyatt Russo, the situation in net will be all right.
“We have great senior leadership. Ryan Kennish is our captain. He’s going to be leading the defense,” Hoose said. “John Novitsky has been starting since he was a freshman. They basically have been taking over our defense and having Wyatt in goal, he does have one year under his belt and he understands what’s going on now. We’re not too worried about him. He’s good enough now that he knows what’s going on and he knows how to control the defense. We have great defensive leadership and I think we’ll be really good there.”
The team is also pleased with the assistant coaches still around and do not doubt that they will be able to hold down the fort for now. From Knapton, a two-time All-American and former conference offensive player of the year at Western New England University, running the offense to Maciorowski, a state championship winning high school coach in Connecticut, taking charge of the defense, the Lakers feel like they are in good hands.
While Knapton, Maciorowski, Eric Miccio and the five captains take the lead, Oswego State Associate Athletic Director Eric Summers and a search committee have the task of finding the next men’s lacrosse head coach.
According to Summers, the college must have the job advertisement posted for at least two weeks before it can begin reviewing the resume of perspective candidates. From there, the committee will make some selections on whom to bring in for interviews, bring in those candidates and hopefully offer someone the position too. The length of the process can vary from a month to three months depending on the candidate pool. Summers hopes to find a new coach soon, but still has the end goal in mind of hiring a candidate that can help the program continue to grow.
“We’re going to try to pull this one together as quickly as possible to have someone as soon as possible,” Summers said.
“We want the best coach possible,” Summers said. “We just want the best person available out there to take the team to the next level.”
The process is still in its very early stages, as the committee is just about to begin selecting candidates to bring in for interviews. For now, the team has only one focus: finishing the fall strong.
“Basically, it’s just coming down to our senior leadership,” Hoose said. “We need to take control of this whole team now and make sure that everybody’s on the same page and get through this fall, get our regular season coach and just do what we came to do.”