Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

A Day in the Life of Dave Urick

They take to Kehoe Field six days a week, and they run through their drills and scrimmages like regular business, without the need for any fanfare or rousing pre-practice speech.

But for the men’s lacrosse team, maintaining a well-oiled operation is easy only on the surface.

It’s 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1, and Head Coach David Urick is sitting at his desk in McDonough Gymnasium and wondering how he can muster enough players to make the day’s practice legitimate.

It’s two and a half hours away, and the morning has been spent keeping the phone off the hook, whether it’s a wakeboarding accident or a turf-induced hamstring injury that’s of immediate concern.

One of his players left his equipment behind at the last practice, and Urick awaits his discomfited return. Matt Rienzo, an assistant coach, drops in to laughingly inform the head coach that his name is actually “Dick Urick,” at least according to the telecast of the 1984 Division III Championship.

And then there are the myriad phone calls with the trainer, tending to hasten questions like, “You can play with stitches, right?”

It’s been something like this for 25 years, ever since Urick began coaching Hobart College to ten straight Division III titles. On the threshold of his 11th season, he received an offer from then-Georgetown Athletic Director Frank Rienzo, who encouraged Urick to use his time to weigh the merits of staying in Geneva, N.Y., and coming to Washington, D.C.

He took Rienzo’s instructions rather liberally, precipitating another phone call.

“If you’re coming, I can wait for you forever to tell me `yes,’ but if it’s `no’ I’ve gotta know real soon,” Rienzo said.

Urick came, and over the course of 14 seasons he has led to Hoyas to a 139-55 record – as well as the first 14 winning seasons in club history. In January, he and Kim Simons, who coached the women’s team for nine years, were honored with inductions into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

“He tells jokes during practice, you see guys laughing during practice – a lot of other teams don’t do that,” att Rienzo, son of the former athletic director, says. “Guys work really hard for him. They’re not burned out at the end of the season like a lot of other teams.”

“If you’re not having fun,” Urick adds, “you’re in it for the wrong reasons.”

His office teems with lacrosse memorabilia. There are photos of players all over the room, and various plaques and awards cover the wall across from his desk. A “HOYA LAX” license plate resides on a bookshelf on the opposite wall.

Right next door, Rienzo and Assistant Coach Scott Urick, son of the head coach and a Georgetown alum, pore over videotape and prepare their records for the upcoming recruiting season.

Players walk over to McDonough and visit periodically, whether it’s to report a crisis, borrow some notes on an upcoming opponent or just spend some time in the team’s control room.

The younger Urick isn’t the only member of the head coach’s family to make Georgetown his home. All three of David Urick’s children graduated from the College between 1998 and 2002.

In most cases, though, recruiting requires a bit of travel, and quite often it’s to Long Island, or “God’s Country,” as Urick calls it. Twenty percent of his men’s lacrosse players, in fact, were recruited from Long Island, and part of a lacrosse coach’s job is to sell his school “five or six times a day” over the course of a week-long visit.

Good recruiting requires a combination of both luck and strategy. Whereas most coaches’ cross-country trips consist just of attending regional all-star games, Georgetown recruiters are careful not to miss out on the players who, for one reason or another, undeservedly miss the cut. New recruit Chris Taylor, a defender from Washington state, is one acquisition whose discovery wasn’t made on the field of an all-star game.

Urick’s three-man team doesn’t even stop at lacrosse.

“We’ll watch a kid play football,” says Urick, who often uses the practices of Georgetown’s men’s basketball team for inspiration. “The skills you need in basketball – footwork, the transition – carry over into lacrosse.”

How does he sell Georgetown to potential recruits?

“We’re able to recruit with a great deal of confidence. You sell the idea of the undergraduate school and the quality of education,” Urick says. “It’s also very important for people to realize how competitive Georgetown University is. You’re playing with and against the best players in the country. . I don’t guarantee a [starting position], no jersey number – just a seat on the bus.”

This education-centered philosophy translates into the regular season, too.

“We never lose sight of the fact that we’re in the education business first,” says the head coach, who won’t let lacrosse practice stop a player from taking advantage of a ticket to Inauguration.

He also believes that the best form of practice comes in letting his players play.

“We scrimmage more than other teams. We play a lot. We’re not overly obsessed with drills,” he says.

It’s a little past noon now on Tuesday, Feb. 1, and Urick’s players will be playing in about an hour. The younger Urick and the younger Rienzo, “about as passionate and loyal to Georgetown as you can imagine,” are working on travel arrangements for summer recruiting. For the head coach, it’s crunch time. He stares thoughtfully at the practice plan below him, and writes in vigorously the names of his uninjured players and what they’ll be doing come 1:30 p.m. He meditates on a player jumping the gun on face-offs, referees “with a `gotcha’ mentality” and how he wants to use various lines on the field for quickness drills.

Head Coach David Urick looks befuddled. He scratches his head and he stares into his binder and he tries to make the best of a bad situation, but in the end, practice will be just fine. After all, it’s been that way for 25 years.

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