Mike Phipps is following in a family tradition by serving as an assistant men's lacrosse coach at the Naval Academy.
His grandfather, Louis "Buster" Phipps, was an assistant at Navy during the glory years under legendary head coach Willis Bilderback from 1959-1972. His father, Wilson Phipps, was an assistant under Bryan Matthews from 1981-1985.
That background explains why Phipps jumped at the chance to join the Navy staff as an assistant to head coach Rick Sowell. The former Severn School standout replaces J.L. Reppert, who left to become offensive coordinator at Maryland.
"It was pretty much a no-brainer. I grew up around Navy lacrosse and hearing my grandfather talk about all the national championship teams he helped coach," said Mike Phipps, who was unaware that his father also served a short stint with the program. "Growing up in Annapolis and always going to the Navy games, this is definitely a dream come true."
On Monday, Navy formally announced the hiring of Phipps, an attackman who starred at the University of Maryland and played professionally in Major League Lacrosse for three seasons. The Annapolis native served as Director of Lacrosse Operations at his alma mater in 2008 and spent the last three seasons as offensive coordinator at High Point.
"I am thrilled to welcome Michael to our staff. He brings a keen eye for evaluating talent, a fresh offensive perspective and an overall enthusiasm as a coach that I know our staff and players are going to benefit from moving forward," Sowell said.
Phipps, who spent two seasons as offensive coordinator at Severn School, initially spoke to Sowell about an assistant's position when the latter was hired as head coach in 2011. However, Sowell was looking for someone with more experience and went with Reppert, who had been an assistant at both Harvard and Washington College.
Phipps said he grew considerably as a coach while at High Point under head coach Jon Torpey. It was a fledgling program that was awarded varsity status in 2010 so Phipps said player development was a big part of his job.
"High Point had a lot of young guys that needed to be coached up so I spent every day on skills work such as passing, shooting and dodging," he said.
Phipps does not hold the title of offensive coordinator, but will focus on that side of the ball. Ryan Wellner, Navy's other full-time assistant coach, works with the defense.
"I'm going to be helping out with the offense and really look forward to leaning from Coach Sowell and working together with him to get the most out of the unit," Phipps said.
Phipps was a three-year starter at Maryland under head coach Dave Cottle and earned honorable mention All-American honors as a senior. The left-hander amassed 95 career points (48 goals, 47 assists) and received the Van Trump Award as the team's top attackman in 2007.
Phipps had a legacy at Maryland as well as his grandfather was an All-American midfielder in 1949 while his father was a member of the school's last national championship team in 1975.
"Obviously, much of my foundation for offensive concepts and strategy comes from playing for Coach Cottle, who is definitely one of the smartest guys in the game," Phipps said.
Phipps said it was energizing to be part of a brand new program at High Point, which endured a 2-13 record in its inaugural campaign of 2013. However, the Panthers enjoyed a tremendous turnaround last season by going 9-7 overall and 4-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference – coming a goal short of advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
Now Phipps is a Division I assistant just like his brother Brian, who will be entering his third season at Georgetown University.
"I would like to thank Coach Sowell and the entire Naval Academy athletic administration for the opportunity to join one of the most well-respected and historic lacrosse programs and academic institutions in the country," Phipps. "I am very familiar with the unbelievable tradition of the program and am honored to now be a part of the Navy lacrosse family."
Phipps, 29, recently celebrated his first wedding anniversary and said he and wife Maggie (a Towson native) are thrilled to be back home near family and friends.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun