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Q&A: South Carroll boys lacrosse coach Grady Breen talks about new job, spring season being on hold

Grady Breen, South Carroll boys lacrosse coach
Grady Breen, South Carroll boys lacrosse coach (Courtesy Photo)

This spring was set to be the first for Grady Breen as South Carroll’s varsity boys lacrosse coach. The 27-year-old played at Messiah College before heading home to play professional Box lacrosse, an indoor version of the game.

Breen was a member of the Vermont Voyageurs, based in his hometown of Burlington, from 2013-15, with many games played in Canada.

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Breen, a social studies teacher, has been with the South Carroll program for three years, and in the fall he logged his second football season as the Cavs’ offensive coordinator. When SC lacrosse coach Brad Widner stepped down after he and his wife had a baby in the offseason, Breen filled the void.

The Times recently caught up with Breen to talk about what his team has been doing to stay positive with its spring season on hold. (Note: We spoke with Breen prior to when Cavaliers senior Noah Homayouni was shot and killed April 2.)

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Q: How have you been able to stay in touch with your players and keep their spirits up during this coronavirus crisis?

A: In general, what I kind of try to keep in mind is how words can kind of change thoughts. So right when the initial delay was announced, it was right before we were about to play in our second scrimmage down in the southern part of the state.

There was a lot of uncertainty immediately. The next day we had a meeting, and what I told my guys is, “We’re going to treat the next couple weeks like our fields are unplayable. We’re not going to talk about sickness, we’re not going to talk about any of that.” And what we’re going to say is, “We can’t wait to get back.”

As soon as you check out, what can you gain back? Hopefully we’ll get back out there, time permitting. We’ll have some games and we’ll enjoy it, even if there’s no fans.

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Q: How much of your Box lacrosse experience do you use to help coach the high school level?

A: On the field, just kind of understanding off-ball movement ... just trying to slow the game down by thinking before you even have possession is really impactful. Just teaching a team off-ball concepts in a much more impactful way.

And at the same time, I was with a franchise ... that was very well run in terms of team dynamics. You’re going up to Canada and you’re spending hotel time with guys you don’t even know. But then you also realize how to get a team to bond together. So I’ve kind of taken things off the field and on the field [in] my time as South Carroll’s head coach.

Q: How do you see this year’s team coming together, if and when there are games this spring?

A: I’ve kind of told the guys since the beginning, we don’t have a guy like [all-county attackman Adam McCarty, who graduated in 2019]. But we can do it by committee. And it’s kind of cliche coach speech to say, “Oh, we’re all going to pitch in.” But I always try to say that there’s no I in team, but there’s a U and an I in unit.

And those teams that get really cohesive, and the teams that play off each other ... that’s what really gets dangerous on the field.

Personally, in our two scrimmages and what I’ve seen in practice, I think guys are playing unselfishly. We kind of know who we are, trying to play off-ball as well as we can. So those are the things that I really like. I’m excited to get back out there, whenever that happens.

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