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Maroons Sports

Letter From Coach Crosby

Posted Saturday, September 06, 2014 by Coach Steve Crosby
To the Auburn Lacrosse players, Alums, Parents and the Auburn Lacrosse community:

I hope this contact finds everyone doing well!  It has been a busy summer and I just wanted to reach out in regard to a couple of different topics as the new school year has begun.

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for another terrific summer of Auburn Lacrosse!  As you are probably aware, in June we graduated 19 tremendous young men from Auburn High School who were members of the 2014 Auburn Varsity Lacrosse Team, our biggest senior class ever.  These young men are headed off to the military and college and we wish them all the best!  We then followed up by having approximately 165 kids in grades K - 12 enrolled in our summer camp and ULA lacrosse teams.  We had an exciting season with our K,1st and 2nd grade team, our two 3rd and 4th grade teams, our 5th and 6th grade team, our 7th and 8th grade team, our JV team and our Varsity Team.  We are particularly excited to note that this is the first year that we have ever had two ULA teams at the same grade level - 3rd and 4th grade.  This was due to the tremendous response of kids in the 3rd and 4th grade registering who desired to play, thus the addition of the 2nd team.  I would also like to note that the K,1 and 2nd grade team was close to needing to add a 2nd team, as were several of the other levels. It is great to see the growth of the game in our community!  

I would particularly like to thank our tremendous ULA coaches for all of their work and dedication this summer with our children: Matt Smith, Nick Musso, Mike Losani, Mike Villano, John Montone, Brian Dautrich, Seamus Rhodes, Tyler Spearing, Jeff Alberici, Brian Scanlan, Tom Bolster, Bill Ashby and Travis Tarr.  In addition, I would like to recognize and thank our outstanding summer camp staff: Nick Musso, Mike Villano, Aaron Sigona, Brendan Entenmann, Chris Wawro, Andrew Farinelli, JT Foltz and Mike Schmid. I would also like to thank Jeff Hanno and the YMCA for their continued support of our annual Auburn Summer Box Lacrosse League at Casey Park.  I would also like to note and thank Tom Blair for once again serving as the box point person and for all of his work with officiating and coordination and the 8 teams that participated this summer.  We are indeed fortunate to have so many tremendous men willing to share their knowledge and love of the game with the next generation!  Thank you all!

Please be aware that once again, we will be participating in the annual Tully Cornfield Classic tournament (www.cornfieldclassiclacrosse.com) on November 1st and 2nd (depending on grade levels) in Tully, NY.  This tournament is open to students in grades 2 - 12.  Auburn will have a 2nd, 3rd, 4th grade team / a 5th and 6th grade team / a 7th and 8th grade team / a JV team and a Varsity team.  It is a terrific event and there are always well over 100+ teams participating.  Additional info will be emailed out in the upcoming weeks regarding registration, etc.

On a final summer league note, if you haven't already done so, please return all equipment that has been borrowed.  Please contact your summer league coach in regard to this.  In addition, if you didn't get your summer camp t-shirt, please contact your summer league coach as soon as possible and we'll make arrangements to get this to you.  Thank you.     

Secondly, as you may have heard, I am writing to share that in late July I announced my decision to step down as the Auburn High School Head Men's Varsity Lacrosse Coach.  

It has been an honor to serve as a Varsity Lacrosse Coach for the past 23 years, the past 21 of those years as the Head Coach. I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as an Assistant Varsity Coach with program founder and Head Coach Tom Butcher in 1992 and 1993.  Since that time, at the age of 27, I have had the honor of serving as your Head Coach.  It has been a labor of love for all of those years.  Why step down now, some might ask?  Quite honestly, I'm tired and I'm looking to slow down a bit.  This has been a decision that has been coming for awhile now and I believe that it is the right time.  

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at the helm.  Some years have seen more lacrosse success that others, but all in all, it will be the players and families that I will always fondly recall.  The relationships that were formed over two plus decades are priceless and they are something that I will always treasure.  Lacrosse has been a godsend in my life, assisting me during my middle and high school years here in Auburn and during my four years as a student athlete at Potsdam State.  Quite honestly, without lacrosse in my life and the tremendous coaches and teammates I have had, I don't know where I would be. They all helped me to grow and develop and they helped me to understand what it was like to be a part of something that is bigger than oneself, to be a part of a team.  It has been my goal over the past 20+ years to share those same life lessons with the young men that I have been privileged to coach.  It is a different day and age than when I grew up in the 1980's but I believe that the values of commitment, dedication and excellence are just as important today as they were 25 years ago, perhaps even more so.  The desire to attempt to give back to the game what has been given to me - a bill that I can never repay - has driven me all of these years.

The role of a Varsity Head Coach has changed quite a bit over the past 25 years or so.  It is now a year round position which requires duties in September, October, November, and December,  just as it does during the busy spring.  Details including fundraising (a topic I will elaborate on briefly below), player recruitment, fall ball, tournaments, weight room, box, player academic and behavior monitoring, scheduling, etc, are all important topics that need to be handled year round.  There really isn't much of an offseason for all coaches, particularly head coaches, in 2014.  These are the basic standards which must be addressed in order to run a quality program.  During the season, time flies and 3 months disappear in a heartbeat.  I found this pace much easier to maintain at age 27, versus now at almost 48.  Thus, it's time.

I have many thank you's to share.  First of all is to the tremendous young men that I have been honored to coach over all of these years.  Quite honestly, I have been inspired by all of you and the faith that you had in myself and our staff as we worked together to find ways to win under the lights.  I would particularly like to thank my final Varsity team, the 2014 Varsity squad.  Nineteen seniors strong, an outstanding group of 33 talented young men.  I enjoyed every minute of working with you guys.  Outstanding in the classroom at Auburn High School and on the athletic field, in the community, in all that you did and do!  You guys are the best and it is an honor to exit with the Class of 2014.

Secondly, I would like to thank the parents and the community for all of your support.  The sometimes endless practices, raffles and fundraisers, the support of all student athletes, the kind words and letters of support over the years, these are the things that I will fondly recall.  Auburn is such a tremendous sports town and it has been a wonderful ride to be a part of all that.

Thirdly, I would like to thank two particular administrators and a wonderful secretary that I work with every single day.  Auburn High School Principal Brian Morgan returned to his alma mater approximately six years ago and it has been and continues to be an honor to work for him, both as a high school counselor and as a Head Coach.  Mr. Morgan has the tremendous respect of the AHS students and staff.  He genuinely cares and goes out of his way to show it, whether it be just touching base to see how things are going, setting up pep rallys to celebrate our successes, attending games or quietly discussing how we can assist a student who may be struggling.  Jeanne Jakaub, Athletic Director Dr. Tam Ray's secretary.  Mrs. Jakaub is the best.  There are constantly issues that pop up during the day - transportation issues, field issues, game cancellations, rescheduling, etc, etc, etc.  Mrs. Jakaub handles these issues for 63 different teams every day, all day, all year.  An unbelievably busy job, with three of four calls every day from Crosby, and she does it all with a smile on her face!  And finally, Athletic Director Dr. Tam Ray.  Dr. Ray has served our District as Athletic Director for approx 20 years.  She has quietly been the driving force behind the successes of all of our district athletic programs, including our lacrosse program.  She is a details oriented person and she understands the big picture.  She has served the district as a teacher, coach and now AD.  Dr. Ray has the widespread support of Central New York athletics and currently serves on a number of Section 3 committees, including serving as President of the CNYCL AD's, President elect for Section 3  and on a NYS level athletics committee.  We are indeed fortunate to have someone of Dr. Ray's caliber serving the student athletes, families and coaches of the Auburn community.  Those things are indeed important, but I am most impressed by Dr Rays caring nature and willingness to listen.  These are critical qualities and Dr. Ray has them, and many, many others.  One final comment about all three of the wonderful staff listed above, they all share the trait of humbleness. They work hard, care deeply and want zero credit.  I and we are blessed!

My fellow Auburn Varsity coaches.  It has been an honor to serve as coaching colleagues with the tremendous, dedicated staff we have here in Auburn over the last 20 plus years.  In particular and to name a few, I have had the pleasure of working closely with Shelly Connors, Bill Dean, TJ Gamba, Mike Lowe, Bob Lee, Bummer Moore, Andy Corbett, John Alberici, Amy Spin, Tim Darnell, Al Giannone, Al Wilson, Doc Clary, John Turscik, and so many other wonderful coaches.  I  would particularly like to thank my good friends and incredible coaches, Football Coaches Dave and Matt Moskov.  We have spent many, many hours and days over the past 20 years or so side by side in the weight room with kids, conditioning sessions and around the building at AHS.  What they do in support of their players, a number of them who face economic challenges, is not well known and they do it every single year.  Staying on young men to make sure they graduate, have housing, the list goes on and on.  It certainly isn't just about Friday nights at 7:00 pm in the Fall (2006 NYS Champions!!), they go above and beyond, year round!  You guys are all the best!

My fellow lacrosse coaches.  I'm not even sure where to begin...  Several years back, I counted the number of staff that I have been fortunate to work with since 1994.  I stopped counting when I got to over 80 guys!  I have been blessed to work with such an outstanding group of men.  As everyone knows, it takes a very dedicated group of people to run a quality program.  I am often the one quoted in the paper after games, but as everyone knows, this isn't a one man show.  This has always been about a group of coaches working together to give back to the youth of our community.  The coaches who have worked with these young men for many, many years of growth and development in the ULA, Modified and JV levels are critical to the success of the program and our kids.  I have always recognized this and I have always known that I have been lucky to work with such dedicated, committed and loyal staff.  Staff that are willing to go the extra mile and understand that academics and character are critical.  Staff that understand that the fundamentals are critical and that it is important to have a solid foundation.  Staff that understand the importance of continued training and who are willing to pay hundreds of dollars out of their own pocket to attend the National Coaches convention every year.  Our Modified Team was, once again this year, led by longtime veteran Head Coach Jeff Alberici and assisted by Brian Dautrich and Ryan Cuddy.  AJHS Teacher and Coach Tom Bolster is also always willing to assist as he has done for over a decade.  Our JV Team was once again headed up by longtime staff member, Head Coach Nick Musso and he was assisted by Bill Ashby.  At the Varsity level, it was an honor to once again coach with John Montone, Matt Smith and Travis Tarr.  I would also like to thank my good friends and longtime Varsity coaches Mike Losani and Demetrius Murphy as we all coached together for 10 years or so back in the 90's and early 2,000's.  There are many, many other coaches, including Head Men's CCC Lacrosse Coach JT Pitcher, Bill Case, Brian Scanlan, Bill Dean, Andy Kott, Will Whittico and Todd Freeman, to name a few, that I have had the honor of coaching with over the years.  The coaches listed above are the reason that we have been successful over the years.  They are all committed, dedicated coaches who are brilliant with the x's and o's, but even more importantly, they are tremendous men who genuinely care about their role in nurturing the next generation. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

I would also like to extend a thank you to longtime scorekeepers extraordaniare and my good friends, Peggy Salvage and Tom Blair.  Peggy did the books for over a decade after her son David graduated, many times it seems in pouring rain!  Tom has done the books for a number of years now and does an incredible job!  He is also the man behind the website (auburnlax.com - when you have a minute go to the history section and you will see all of our players, every game, player records, team records, etc - its all there due to Tommy's tireless efforts), coordinates box lacrosse, longtime raffle coordinator, etc, etc.  I thank you both!

Ange Messina, Vicki Guy, Andy Tehan, and Kevin "Toad" Rhodes - all of you have played an important role in supporting our teams over the years, and I truly appreciate all of your assistance through the years.  Thank you!

Our AHS Alums who Coach College Lacrosse - West Point Head Coach Joe Alberici, Brockport Head Coach Ben Wineburg, Holy Cross Head Coach Judd Lattimore, OCC Assistant Coaches Joe and Mike Villano, CCC Head Coach JT Pitcher, Wooster College Head Coach Carl Festa and Reinhardt College Head Coach John Snow - I would like to thank all of you for your assistance over the years.  It was great to know that I always had this phenomenal group of outstanding lacrosse coaches who were always willing to assist with the x's and o's, game management, recruiting advice, different team scenarios, etc, etc.  Your assistance has been critical over the years and I can't thank you enough!  In addition, congrats to our own Ben Wineburg and Jason Alberici (AHS Class of 1992) on your well deserved inductions into the AHS Athletic Hall of Fame this November!!

Jeff Long - longtime statistician and good friend, Thank you!  Jeff told me that we wouldn't win one game when he found out that I was selected as the Head Coach back in 1994.  It was good to prove him wrong as we won a few :)   Kidding aside, as all of you know, Jeff is the best!

Brian Cool, Doug Lumb and John Scanlan - For your annual officiating presentations at the beginning of each season.  These were always very helpful for our teams.  Thank you!

The Citizen Sports Department - The Sports Dept has always been very supportive of our lacrosse program.  Longtime Sports Editor, fellow AHS classmate and good friend Chris Sciria has been there every step of my career, from the very beginning in 1994 to the very kind article he penned several weeks back sharing my retirement news.  Thank you Chris!  I would also like to thank current sports editor Jeremy Houghtaling who has also been very kind and supportive over the years. In these days of ongoing budget cuts and shrinking staffs, your efforts have always been greatly appreciated!  

The Auburn Sports Boosters, Dick Williams, VP Bob Guzewicz and President Mike Luziani - longtime supporters of all sports teams and our lacrosse teams.  The Boosters volunteer their time to work the gates, concessions, etc year round and they donate these monies back to all of the teams.  Many years, all District teams in all sports would have had zero supplies if it wasn't for the donations of the Boosters and longtime President Mike Luziani - Thank you!

Steve Gage - longtime team video coordinator.  Thank you for classing up our operation!

Jeff Hanno and the YMCA - for taking over the box lacrosse program at Casey park several years ago and doing a great job with the program!

My Mom and Dad have been with me every step of the way.  Watching games in high school, making the long drives to Potsdam when they could and then assisting in so many ways over the years.  My Mom created every team scrapbook over the past 21 years.  Photocopies of these were given to every player annually at our year end banquet.  My Dad was our longtime penalty keeper at our home games.  Thank you for these things and so many, many others!  I love you both!

Our boys Zack and Sam have been my greatest fans.  Win, lose or draw they were always there for me.  They have been a huge part of the program.  I have no words to thank you for your understanding and support during this special journey, I couldn't have done it without them.

Finally, my wife Michelle.  I thank you for allowing me to pursue this passion of mine over the past two plus decades.  We have shared all of the up's and down's together and it has been a wonderful ride.  Thank you and I love you!

What's next for me?  I will certainly be continuing my involvement with Auburn Lacrosse.  I will still be coaching the summer ULA teams, assisting with summer camp and running the weight room in the Fall at AHS.  I am considering perhaps coaching at the modified level, we shall see.  I also plan to continue my work as a member of the Section 3 Lacrosse Committee and I plan to continue serving as the CNY HS Chairman for US Lacrosse.  As I've told many people, I'm still going to be on the Auburn and CNY Lacrosse bus, just sitting in a different seat.  I'm looking forward to this next stage.

Finally, I would like to congratulate and welcome Matt Smith as our new Head Coach!  I have had the pleasure of knowing Coach Smith since I served as an assistant coach with Coach Butcher in 1992, Coach Smith's senior year at Auburn High.  We have been great friends ever since.  He has served as our Head Modified Coach, Head JV Coach, and he has been on the Varsity staff for the past eight years.  He has served as the defensive coordinator for the Varsity team for a number of years.  In addition, he founded and served as Head Coach of the Cayuga Community College Team Men's Lacrosse Team for 4 years.  Coach Smith has a tremendous amount of experience and he is going to do a tremendous job, the program is in great hands!  

I would also like to share that I do see challenges on the lacrosse horizon, and Coach Smith is well aware of them.  Auburn will be a Class A (big school) team in spring, 2015, even though our High School population has continued to drop.  The cutoff for B schools is 1,000 students in grades 9-11.  I believe that we sit at 1,006 - obviously six students above the cutoff, thus we are an A school again this year.  We are the smallest Class A school in Section 3.  We also face funding challenges.  When I started my Head Varsity Coaching career 21 years ago, we would purchase a dozen new helmets, dozen new shoulder pads, dozen new gloves, dozen new arm pads, goalie equipment, etc on a regular basis.  We had a budget that was large enough to purchase the things we needed.  We now get approx $500 dollars a year for Varsity team supplies which buys lacrosse balls and nets for the goals, that's it.  I discovered the depth of the the monetary issues our entire AHS sports programs faces when I recently served as a member of the athletic combining committee this past spring. The facts were eye opening...   

Some highlights from the data:
1) In 1974, AHS had 2,523 students walking the halls.  In 2014, we had 1,375 students.
2) In 1974, we had 24 varsity teams.  In 2014, we have 28 varsity teams.
3) In 1994, the school district financially supported 48 total athletic teams with a budget of $331,355.   I was dumbfounded to discover that, 20 years later in 2014, the school district now supports 63 teams - an addition of 15 new teams in the last 20 years - with a total budget of $325,256.  As you can all see, this is $6,000 less than we spent 20 years ago on 15 fewer teams!   

Additional Facts:
1) Auburn is the smallest Class A school in the CNYCL league and getting smaller every year
2) The 2015 Varsity Team will face one of the toughest regular season schedules we have faced in a long, long time.  We will be playing a second non-league game vs WG, FM and Bville.  This is because all of the Class A teams were ranked based on their league records over the past couple of years and split into two groups.  Our league record placed us in the top group, thus the additional non league games with the outstanding opponents mentioned above.  And yes, we will also have other non leaguers vs our traditional non league opponents.
3) We certainly have athletic facility needs, as any coach, parents and kids will tell you.  And yes, I'll say it, Auburn is the only Class A school without turf (Bville's turf has been approved and it is my understanding that it is going to be installed in the near future, I imagine in the spring, Oswego is now a B school).

So, the challenges certainly exist for Coach Smith and staff.  I am hopeful that the above financial support items can and will be addressed.  We discussed this as a part of our athletic combining committee work this past spring.  

All of that said, we have many, many upsides!  We have a community that is incredibly supportive of all sports teams and we as a lacrosse team have been blessed to enjoy this for decades!  Save our Sports in 2001 jumps immediately to mind!  Holland Stadium and the surrounding fields have recently been renovated and look awesome!   Our 24th Annual summer camp continues to do well with approximately 165 kids attending this year, our ULA teams are continuing to expand and the YMCA box program is in good shape.  In addition, we continue to be blessed by the coaches and hundreds and hundreds of alums in Auburn and from around the country who continue to support our kids and the Auburn lacrosse program.  And, at the end of the day, we have always had the mindset that we will simply outwork everyone.  I know that Coach Smith lives by this concept.  I remain confident that we will face these challenges together and I know that the best is yet to come!

I'm sure I have missed some people that are very deserving of acknowledgement and my thanks. I apologize in advance to anyone that I have unintentionally omitted.

Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart for your support and for giving a 27 year old kid a shot back in 1994!  It has been a blast!

Go Maroons!
Steve Crosby
Head Men's Varsity Lacrosse Coach 1994-2014 (retired)   

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