The Castleton men’s lacrosse is blossoming under the leadership of second-year coach David Wiezalis. In his first season as head coach of the Spartans, Wiezalis led the team to its
first postseason appearance since the 1970s. And to top off the successful coaching debut, the North Atlantic Conference awarded him with Coach of the Year.
Wiezalis grew up in Syracuse, one of the nation’s hotbeds for producing lacrosse players.
“Just being born in that area and enjoying the outdoors created an interest in lacrosse,” he said in a recent interview. “During my early playing years, I developed a love for the sport and now I’m carrying it over to coaching.”
Sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time, which was the case
for Wiezalis when he heard about Castleton’s coaching vacancy.
“I met with Deanna [Tyson] and she wanted me to consider taking the coaching job,” Wiezalis said. “I accepted her offer because of the opportunity to coach at the Division 3 level and the fact that I was able to bring in Rob Marsden as my assistant coach.”
Wiezalis and Marsden, both with extensive lacrosse backgrounds, work together at the Vermont Achievement Center in Rutland.
After his hiring, Wiezalis didn’t said know what to expect heading into his first season as head coach for the Spartans.
“I had each player fill out a form so I could become familiar with them and their lacrosse background,” he said. “I knew there were a core group of players and that several on this team had the heart to play. By mid-season, it was obvious that the team grew together and got better.”
After dropping the first two games of the season, the Spartans finally came together as a team and won eight of their next 10 games heading into the NAC playoffs.
A loss in the NAC Finals to Mount Ida and a strong run at the end of the season secured the team a spot in the ECAC tournament.
“I believe that hard work and the passion to do well were the reasons we had a successful year,” he said with a bigsmile. “The team learned how to play together and the results showed.”
The 9-6 record brought back excitement to Castleton lacrosse and has many looking forward to this season with high expectations.
“I pretty much have a conservative view; all teams in our conference are equal right now, he said. “If the team performs as a whole, we have a great shot at winning the NAC title over strong teams like Mount Ida and Maine-Maritime.”
While some head coaches prefer the thrill of victory as their favorite aspect of coaching, Wiezalis believes there’s more to coaching than the ‘W’ column.
“I enjoy seeing how players have a love for the game, and how they grow as players. That’s what makes coaching so interesting to me,” he said.
One of the responsibilities as a head coach of a team is to relate well with your
players, something Wiezalis believes is occurring with his team on a professional level.
“It’s important to set boundaries and earn respect from your players, which are things that new coaches would usually have trouble with,” he said.
Wiezalis and the men’s lacrosse team start the season Thursday when they travel to New Hampshire to play New England College.