There are many Matt Kerwick fans in lacrosse. He was a superhero at Hobart and played for the great Dave Urick back in "the day." Many of those fans, even at Hobart, were not happy with the way Hobart handled his departure as head coach last season. Some of the top coaches in the game will vouch for his abilities and they must have, as he was named the head coach at Division I newbie Jacksonville University in, that's right, Jacksonville, Fla., in August. It has been reported that he beat out John Haus (fired at UNC after the season) as the last two candidates for the position, but I think many great coaches applied for the job. Lacrosse is a small place where D1 head coaching jobs don't become available unless someone you know has been canned, so a new program with a new job opening is very exciting and this one may turn out to be a huge opportunity. That is now up to Kerwick.
As a coach, Kerwick never delivered Hobart to national D1 prominence, but that's a lot harder than Hobart thought it would be when they ascended from D3 domination (11 straight titles) into D1 obscurity. It's still a monumental task. The powers that be in Geneva, N.Y., will learn how hard first hand, and at the same time, learn whether they made the right decision on Kerwick. The new staff will have to recruit against all those warm-weather institutions that always topped Kerwick's efforts and, of course, now against Kerwick himself, in sunny Florida. You may think it will be hard to build a lacrosse program in Jacksonville by 2010, but Kerwick inherits a club team and my guess is that if kids compare the weather in Geneva and Jacksonville, you might see some who typically head north for their college lacrosse experience going south.
I contacted Jacksonville sports information director Joel Lamp via e-mail, and he said they had been overwhelmed with well wishes and congratulations on the new program and the hiring of Kerwick. The school is very excited to start in 2010 and is proud to be the new southern-most point of college lacrosse! Our congratulations to Matt and JU!
Heres the unedited release announcing Kerwick's hiring:
Matt Kerwick named JU's first men's lacrosse coach
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. With a vast amount of knowledge and experience in and around lacrosse, JU named Matt Kerwick as the school's first men's lacrosse coach on Wednesday.
After going through nearly 200 resumes to find the first head coach of the only Division I men's program in Florida, Kerwick's passion and vision to build the JU men's lacrosse program from scratch was infectious. Kerwick will have a year and a half to build the program in anticipation of the varsity team's first game in 2010.
"We are excited to name Matt Kerwick as our men's lacrosse coach," said JU director of athletics Alan Verlander. "We had a lot of interest in the position, but we were very fortunate to be able to hire someone with Matt's experience and connection in the world of lacrosse.
"Matt knows what it takes to build a successful program and we believe that with his experience, he will be able to mold the program into a nationally respected program."
Known as one of the rising stars in lacrosse coaching circles, Kerwick comes to JU with 13 years of head coaching experience at Randolph- Macon, Alfred and his alma mater, Hobart College, where he spent the last seven years.
"I would like to thank President Romesburg and Alan Verlander for giving me the opportunity to run the first men's Division I program in the state of Florida," Kerwick said. "With the growth of the game across the country, Jacksonville University will offer a tremendous option for the great group of young men who will put on the first Dolphin uniform in the spring of 2010. I am looking forward to building a top flight schedule and bringing championship lacrosse to the South."
During his time at Hobart, Kerwick led the Statesmen to the Patriot League championship in 2002 and two NCAA Tournament appearances (2002, 2004). After leading Hobart to the championship in 2002, he earned Patriot League "Coach of the Year" honors. This past spring, Kerwick was selected East Coast Athletic Conference "Co-Coach of the Year" after guiding Hobart to an 8-6 record including a win over No. 15 Loyola.
Entering last season, Kerwick ranked in the top 25 among active lacrosse coaches in both career wins and career winning percentage, sporting a 98-84 career record. JU will be his second stint as a head coach at the Division I level.
While known as an outstanding coach, Kerwick also had a stellar playing career. He was a first team All-America selection in 1990 and a second team All-America honoree in 1989. He earned NCAA Tournament MVP honors in 1989 while leading the Statesmen to the Division III national championship four straight years.
An all-around athlete, Kerwick was also a four-year letterwinner on the hockey team, serving as captain of both teams during his senior season. He finished his career by being named the William C. Stiles Award winner, giving to the Hobart senior student-athlete for leadership, determination and character.
Following his collegiate career, Kerwick played in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League from 1991 through 1996, earning the Baltimore Thunder's "Unsung Hero" award twice and was an All- Star selection in 1992.
With pursuing his playing career, Kerwick began his coaching career as the head coach at Randolph-Macon for three seasons before being named an assistant coach at the University of Pennsylvania. He revived the program at Randolph- Macon, leading the lead Yellow Jackets to a 27-14 record, at the time the three most successful seasons in the program's history.
After one season at Penn, Kerwick took the head coach position at Alfred University and in his three seasons he led the Saxons to the postseason each year, earning a spot in the 1997 NCAA Tournament field as well as berths in the 1996 and 1998 ECAC Upstate Tournament. Alfred was 25-17 (.595) in his three seasons. Following his 1996 Super Six Lacrosse League "Coach of the Year" Award, Kerwick was named the 1997 "Babe" Kraus Division III Coach of the Year.
Kerwick moved on from Alfred to Georgetown as an assistant coach. During his three seasons with the Hoyas, Kerwick helped lead the program to a 36-9 record and the Final Four in 1999 before returning to his alma mater as head coach.
Kerwick and his wife Mary have two sons, Thomas and Sean.