The lacrosse sticks collectively fly high in the air and then the Hereford boys lacrosse players all merge into one large mass of celebration. It's May at UMBC Stadium, and that means the Bulls have won yet another state championship. The program has won seven all time, and the last three have come under the watchful eye of coach Brian King. Talk about getting it done -- King has gone 57-3 in his three years as coach. After spending four years as an assistant coach working with the junior varsity, King took over a defending state championship team and tacked on three more crowns. He's never seen a season end on a low note and he does all he can to avoid it from happening. King and his wife, Stephanie, have two boys -- Brycen, 4, and Jameson, 2 -- and they are expecting a baby girl in two weeks. For King, a Washington College grad who teaches communication at Hereford, there's nothing better than coming home to his young boys and having them ask: 'Daddy, did the good guys win?' As this week's Coachspeak guest, we asked King about the early-season tests the Bulls have this season and some of the keys to maintaining the program's success.
How exciting and beneficial is it opening the season against private school power Gilman and also playing St. Paul's early on?
It's awesome -- the kids want to play these games. Gilman has won two out of the last three [Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Assocation A Conference titles] and then we get to play St. Paul's, which has won the most MIAA championships. It's March and if we win, we play the next game. And if we lose and get punched in the face, we get up, learn from it and make sure we get it right by May. You win championships in May. So it's good and there's no pressure on us.
How has the program been able to maintain its success?
I work for a great AD [Mike Kalisz] and we have a great rec program. We're trying to get these kids top be Bulls from the time they're 4 years old. Fortunately for us, our academics at Hereford are really good, so we have to bring the athletics up to meet the academic bar. To keep our edge [on the field], we have competition in practice every day that always makes us better. We really get after it and we also know every team is going to give us their best game. We just have to make sure we have it right in May and we try to figure it all out during the season.
With all the quality private schools in the area, what is the key to keeping players at Hereford?
I'm just very involved with the rec program. We started a middle school program. One of the things that was awesome last year is after we were fortunate to win [the state title], I looked up in the stands and saw a bunch of little kids wearing Hereford shirts and then I saw a bunch of alumni who came back to watch us wearing the Bulls logo. That was cool to see.
What's it like seeing each of your first three seasons end with a state championship?
I'm extremely motivated that i've never had to look at the kids and give them the speech. I don't even know what I would say. That keeps me on the road scouting or up late at night or doing whatever I can and hopefully I'm not over-coaching. But to have to look at these kids and say: 'Better luck next year' -- I'd rather not.
What's the first thing you talk about at the start of each season with your new team?
I kind of steal a line from [Duke basketball] coach [Mike] Krzyzewskiand tell them that we're not trying to win a fifth straight, but we're trying to win one with this group. I tell them this group has potential, but it hasn't won anything yet. We can't forget about the hard work and what we've learned from the past teams.