McDonogh girls lacrosse coach Chris Robinson said Thursday morning that his decision to leave the Eagles and their 177-game winning streak was to focus on building his National Girls Lacrosse League, a youth program he envisions being comparable to Little League Baseball.
The announcement of Robinson’s departure from McDonogh after 13 years, nine straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships and eight straight years as the No. 1 girls lacrosse program in the country took the lacrosse community by surprise Wednesday night.
McDonogh officials emailed a letter Wednesday to the school community and a separate one to the girls lacrosse families, which was obtained by The Baltimore Sun, saying that Robinson “is no longer teaching and coaching at McDonogh School. His last day was yesterday.” Neither letter gave a reason why he had left.
“The decision to resign … was a tough decision for me and my family,” said Robinson, whose older daughter, Anna, is a senior on this year’s Eagles team. “We have opportunities with the National Girls Lacrosse League and other opportunities which are coming about with Robinson Sports and I just couldn’t manage to do everything I had on my plate, so we thought that our 13-year run at McDonogh had run its course and we had great memories, great players and a phenomenal run, but it was just time for a change.”
Robinson Sports Inc., a business he runs with his brother, Scott, conducts girls lacrosse leagues, tournaments, camps and clinics. Scott Robinson, who coached McDonogh’s defense, has also left the Eagles, although he continues to coach the girls basketball team at Howard High School.
When asked whether there had been any dispute between himself and McDonogh officials, Chris Robinson said: “I’m not going to say anything negative about McDonogh or anything like that. It’s more of the timing. This spring we have national locations for the youth league opening up and I’ve got to put my attention toward that in its first year.”
A call to McDonogh headmaster Charles Britton’s office Thursday was referred to the communications department. In an email, a school spokesperson did not elaborate further on Robinson’s departure.
Robinson, who has also left his job as a middle-school science teacher at McDonogh, acknowledged that the timing of his departure wasn’t perfect with the lacrosse season about six weeks away, but that it was the right time to take advantage of the opportunity to build the NGLL. The youth league for girls in fifth through eighth grades is expanding from the Mid-Atlantic region to Georgia, North Carolina and the Chicago area this spring. He wants to oversee that expansion.
“We want to make sure it’s done right,” Robinson said. “It’s a very pivotal year for the development of the league and the ultimate goal of it is to kind of mirror a bit of what the Little League World Series is to baseball and having league competition under one umbrella and eventually qualifying out of your region into a national championship format. There’s nothing else like it in lacrosse. The youth lacrosse throughout the country is very disjointed and we figured this would be a great opportunity for the young ladies, so it’s a huge project and we feel it’s really in a pivotal year to make that happen.”
With Robinson’s abrupt departure and no explanation provided Wednesday night, rumors began emerging.
On Thursday morning on the Facebook pages of Robinson Sports Inc. and his M&D lacrosse club, he wrote: “I have been made aware of the rumors that have circulated because of my departure by some of my friends and colleagues. Some of them are appalling to hear but I guess in today’s society people automatically assume the worst. I assure you all, there isn’t any merit to these horrific claims. So in this time of change for my family, I would ask that you be respectful of my decisions to move on in my career.”
Robinson, a three-time All-Metro Coach of the Year, began his career at Mount Hebron. He had a record of 341-18-1 as a high school head coach, including 234-10 at McDonogh. Before coaching the Eagles, he coached Mount Hebron to five state championships from 1997 and 2001.
The letter sent to the lacrosse families Wednesday night said assistant coach Nancy Love would take over the program on an interim basis while a national search is conducted for a new coach.