A Crash Course on Communication: What separates Tony Resch as a coach and leader

By Katie McNulty | Jul 2, 2021

When Archers assistant coach Brian Kavanagh first heard that Tony Resch would be leading the defense, he was ecstatic. Kavanagh expected it to be a crash course in the X’s and O’s, but it ultimately turned into a crash course in how to communicate with people. 

“I think therein lies the genius of Coach Resch,” Kavanagh said. “He gets people to buy in and play for something greater than themselves, which is not easy to do by any means.” 

Not only do Resch’s colleagues and players realize how much he has contributed to the game, but so does the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. 

Resch received a call one day from Rick Lake, the senior manager men’s game director for USA Lacrosse. He thought Lake was asking him to help on a committee. Instead, Lake called to tell him that he was being inducted into the 2021 National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. 

Even though Resch has been successful at every level he's coached at, it didn’t feel real to him. 

“It’s one of those moments where you’re speechless and like, ‘Are you sure you have the right person?’” Resch said. “I couldn’t have been more honored. It was a rush of different emotions. I’m certainly proud to be in the company of people that are already in the Hall of Fame.”

While the honor may have been a little bit of a surprise to Resch, it certainly wasn’t to others—especially Archers head coach Chris Bates.

“I think anybody in the game knows and respects Tony to the Nth degree," Bates said. “It’s really no surprise. Obviously, there are some stipulations and guidelines, but he’s just one of the best…. He’s an all-timer.”

Archers defender Matt McMahon knew Resch was the best coach for a long time, but he and his teammates had no clue how much Resch had achieved until the news came out about his induction into the Hall of Fame.  

“It was crazy,” McMahon said. “I think for a lot of us when that article came out, you really got a full read-through of his lacrosse resume, and it was mind-blowing in so many ways. He’s been successful at so many levels with so many teams... To do that is such a testament to what a person he is. It’s no coincidence that winning follows him. That’s the impact he has on a locker room.”

In his 30 plus years as a coach, Resch has won five Major League Lacrosse titles, two gold medals with the U.S Men’s National Team, four NLL championships with the Philadelphia Wings, and four state championships with La Salle College High School—and he’s not done yet. 

If you would have told Resch what he’d be able to accomplish when he first started coaching, he said he wouldn’t have believed it. He didn’t even pick up lacrosse until he was in high school, but with hard work and determination, he was able to play for Yale, where he was a two-time All-American.

It’s no secret that Resch is the best defensive coach of all-time. Resch’s Archers defense has given up just one goal to an opposing attackman this season. The player that scored that goal? Ryan Brown, one of the best shooters in the league. It took until 11 minutes into the third game of the year for an attackman to crack this defense.

Resch said he tries to go back to the fundamentals. From his experience  coaching at La Salle College High School in Philadelphia, he knows the importance of going back to the basics. 

“I try not to overcomplicate things,” Resch said. “You can do the X’s and O’s and draw things on the board, but fundamentally there are some things that need to consistently happen. Personnel and tendencies come with the experience.” 

Bates said what makes Resch such a good coach is how he treats people off the field. Not only do the players want to win for themselves, but they don’t want to let Resch down. 

“He’s just one of the best guys you’re ever going to meet, and I say that genuinely,” Bates said. “He’s just got a big, huge heart… We kind of give him grief. He was named to the Hall of Fame and then after the next practice, who’s the guy that’s carrying the balls. It’s Tony… At this stage in his career, anybody could say, ‘I’m above that,’ but he’s never above anybody or anything. That rubs off.”

It’s not easy balancing coaching at the collegiate level, the high school level, and being a teacher at the same time. Resch said he would not have been able to accomplish the things he did if it weren’t for his support system back home. 

“You do have a lot of work as a coach to watch film and communicate with guys,” Resch said. “ I travel a lot on the weekends, and really my wife is the star of the show. The fact that she’s been so supportive and has allowed me the opportunities to work with these great players and coaches, I can’t ever not mention that. My wife, Mary, has been such a positive force for me.”

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