Spring sports have just begun, and for most it is usually a smooth transition. But for CHS lacrosse, which entered the season without coaches, the hiring of varsity coach Pierce Guderski is a welcome development.
Up until last week, all of the team’s coaching positions remained open, according to athletic director Golden Anderson. By late January, only five candidates had applied, and at that time the team still didn’t know when they’d officially have a coach.
“It’s unfortunate,” Anderson says of the late-in-the-game hiring process. “As fast as [lacrosse is] growing, I don’t think it’s been developed long enough…at least in our area…to have a lot of people that are available to coach it.”
As if proving this point, CHS has cycled through four different varsity lacrosse coaches in the past five years, largely because they’ve all been military, as Anderson explains.
This year, the search for willing applicants who have both played and coached the sport was not easy, and Anderson preferred to wait to make a decision from a more qualified applicant pool.
In the meantime, players did what they could, running pre-season drills for three weeks in informal, captain-led practices organized through Instagram.
“[We] had a fair amount of kids show up,” says senior Jacob Johnsson, a two-year varsity midfielder, of the captains’ practices. “However, you can’t be a player and a coach, [and] having…an authoritative figure to tell kids to step in line is essential.”
Fortunately, that lack of authority was resolved when 2014 CHS graduate Brian Jasper and Pacific Grove High graduate Guderski signed on as JV and varsity coaches, respectively, with little time before the start of the season.
Guderski was approved for coaching starting Feb. 4, and according to senior offensive player Morgan Koucky, the transition has gone well, with Guderski respecting traditions set by last year’s coach while tapping into his own experience.
Fresh out of Chapman University, where for four years his lacrosse team competed as a top five seed in the national tournament, the 22-year-old Guderski comes to Carmel with high hopes.
“We are looking to establish Carmel as a NorCal powerhouse, not just an MTAL-dominant team,” he says. “If we don’t beat the best teams by raw skill and athleticism, we will certainly out-smart them.”
This mindset is echoed by players like Johnsson and Koucky, who see their main challenge this season in out-of-league match-ups such as Bellarmine and St. Francis.
In the words of defensive player Emerson Hardy, a junior, “We have enough talent. We just need a little direction.”