Waterdogs LC Preview with Coach Andy Copelan
By Andy Copelan | Jul 2, 2020
After sixteen years of coaching college lacrosse, my wife Caitlin and I made a family decision to pivot for an opportunity at the Greenwich Country Day School (GCDS). GCDS started a HS for the first time and my wife and I will be developing the boy's and girl's lacrosse programs. The idea of building with a blank canvas appealed to both of us. Fast forward a few months and the chance to coach the expansion Waterdogs Lacrosse Club presented itself; which would not only scratch the itch of what I could perhaps miss from the college game, but also provide another opportunity to create from inception. I have really enjoyed living in these two parallel universes, building both at the professional and high school levels. Additionally, I have quickly realized that the Greenwich Country Day School and the Premier Lacrosse League are the gold standards for private school education and professional sports.
As a youngster, I wanted to be the head coach and GM of the Miami Dolphins – just in case my Pop Warner skills fell a little (a lot) short of pro level. While I’m very proud of my upstate NY roots, the Buffalo Bills had lost their fourth straight Super Bowl and Dan Marino was my favorite player. Number 13’s appearance in Ace Ventura Pet Detective really sealed the deal for me. However, I started playing lacrosse right around that time and it quickly became my passion, forever changing my life. I will always remain a Dolphins fan, but serving as the Head Coach/GM of the Waterdogs is the pinnacle for me.
While it seems like ages ago, I have vivid memories of the protected rosters being announced. A month later, I was in Connecticut at NBC Sports studios with Ryan Boyle, Paul Burmeister and others doing the whole hair and makeup thing - wondering if I should look at Paul or at one of the cameras and praying they have a good editing crew because I was not making it easy on them. Turns out that not only does the PLL have an exceptional editing crew, they are good at everything.
Multiple drafts later, we have our 25-person roster and I am really pleased with how it all came together. As anyone who has been around sports understands, having great players is critical, but talent alone doesn’t guarantee you a great team. The fundamental challenge for all coaching staffs is trying to win when the margins are razor-thin. For the Waterdogs, the obvious question is how quickly can we jell?
It’s embarrassing to admit, that six months ago, I had no idea what Zoom was. Today, my toddlers seem well versed with it. I still appreciate the “old school” and have spent plenty of time on the phone navigating this whole venture, but as our team prepares for this tournament, Zoom has been our lifeblood. After several interactions, there is a lot I like about our squad. We have a good balance of focus, humility, motivation, and fun. The hybrid American / Canadian influence has been awesome and our guys have great perspective and professionalism. As a staff, we have been impressed by the desire for these elite players to be coached, to be given a plan, and to constantly improve. What an important message for all young players out there who may sometimes think they have it all figured out.
The upcoming PLL Championship Series in Salt Lake City certainly is different from what we had envisioned, but this league is nimble, creative and forward-thinking. The time off has been great for the players. I believe this will be some of the best lacrosse on display in the history of our sport. To coach with and against the best players in the world is pretty special.
Personally, I’m happy to reunite with Drew Snider, whom I recruited to Maryland when I was an assistant coach for Dave Cottle. Coaching (learning from) Brodie Merrill, Zach Currier (won 5 championships in the span of a year), Ben Reeves (2018 Tewaaraton winner), members of the USA and Canadian National teams, and others who I have coached against at the college level is plenty of motivation. Plus, coaching alongside close friends Brendan Dawson and Rob Cross has been even better than I had hoped.
Our pool play draw is difficult, but we are certainly not alone. All teams will be challenged. At a minimum, we can be more strategic in our preparation. Walking off the field in SLC, we want to make sure that the best owners in sports, Big Cat and PFT, are wearing their purple proudly!
I have immensely enjoyed every bit of this entire process thus far. I haven’t gotten every decision right, but every decision made had a lot of thought behind it. Without having yet coached a game, this is unequivocally the most fun I’ve ever had coaching. The clock is ticking. Let’s Go Dawgs.
- Andy Copelan, Waterdogs LC Head Coach