As Bayhawks camp opens, Dave Cottle finds himself a head coach once again
By By Jonas Shaffer
The Baltimore Sun|
Apr 05, 2012 | 8:37 PM
Truth be told, life didn't change all that much for Dave Cottle in the two years after his last game as Maryland's men's lacrosse coach. It just became somewhat inverted.
With his schedule suddenly open, sure, he finally got to see his son, Sean, play more of the sport he coached for nine seasons in College Park and another 19 at Loyola. And, yes, he can speak from experience these days when he jokes about knowing what it's like to go in for a Saturday morning oil change. ("I've never done that, that whole weekend thing," he said.)
Inevitably, Cottle found his way back to the high schools he made second homes of during college recruiting trips. Only now, it's to watch the ninth-graders he coaches. He still scrutinizes lacrosse games with the eye of a man who won almost 300 games in his career. Only now, when an old colleague asks for another perspective after a win or loss, he has a preamble: "Do you want to know what I thought? Or do you want me to tell you what you want to hear?"
Even as his exit from Maryland in May 2010 seemed to signal the beginning of the end of his storied coaching career, Cottle and lacrosse could never divorce themselves. So as he prepares for the start of another training camp Friday, this time as the head coach of the Chesapeake Bayhawks, it's both a surprise and not one at all he'll soon be blowing a whistle leading his own team once more.
"The successes you share, the relationships you develop – anybody who's been in that locker room or anybody who's been between the lines and accomplished something that was outstanding, it's a tremendous thrill," Cottle said. "I didn't want to lose that part of it."
Not that he ever really did. When he resigned from his Terps post after a fourth straight season ended short of championship weekend, it wasn't even a month before he joined the Bayhawks as a consultant. It wasn't much longer before Chesapeake ended a five-game losing streak, then won a Major League Lacrosse championship.
His supercharged ascension began from there. Cottle was named the Bayhawks' president in January 2011, a Bayhawks assistant coach three months later and head coach on Jan. 5 when owner Brendan Kelly stepped down and asked him to be his replacement.
"He's my boss," Cottle said, laughing. "If he asks me to do something, that's what I'm going to do."
Cottle can still get wistful over his days spent at Byrd Stadium. He misses the group of players he left behind there. Having moved from coaching up college players to helping out his son's team to now leading a professional squad filled with some of his former pupils, however, it's not like he ever really stepped away.
"I missed the guys at Maryland. They were great kids," Cottle said. "The next thing I know, I'm coaching an eighth-grade team, a ninth-grade team, and now I'm coaching a pro team. I'm coaching all around."