cover photo courtesy of University of Massachusetts Athletics
Our new “Behind the Polo” series will delve into the thoughts and minds of some of the top assistant coaches across all of mens college lacrosse. This interview series will assist student-athletes and families navigate and get an in-depth look into what it takes to be a college lacrosse player in 2019 and beyond.
Our first “Behind the Polo” interview is with University of Massachusetts Associate Head Coach and former standout Minuteman goalie Doc Schneider. Last season Schneider earned the 2018 Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IMLCA) Assistant Coach of the Year Award. Schneider helped lead UMass to the 2018 CAA Championship and an NCAA Tournament berth.
How long have you been coaching for?
This is my 10th Season at UMass Amherst.
What was your path into coaching like and where else have you coached?
I had an extra fall semester after my senior year playing at UMass where I was planning on finishing my degree and helping out coach the team. The summer going into that year, one of our assistant coaches left for a head coaching opportunity and Coach Cannella provided me with the opportunity to coach at UMass as a full-time assistant. I have been with the program ever since I graduated in the fall of 2010.
Where did you attend High School?
Massapequa High School in Massapequa, NY
Where did you play in College and in the Pros?
College: UMass Amherst
Professional: Toronto Nationals (formerly a team in the MLL)
Who were some of the most influential coaches in your life and why?
I had a lot of great coaches growing up in Long Island, NY. However, my most influential coach when I was younger was George Powers. He was my high school lacrosse coach as well as a youth coach for me in basketball, football, and lacrosse. He was instrumental in preparing me for the intensity and workload in college. I felt I had a relatively smooth transition into the college game because I understood the preparation and work ethic needed to succeed at the next level from him.
Overall, the coach that has had the biggest influence on me throughout my collegiate career and now my professional career is Coach Cannella. Not only was I fortunate enough to learn from him as a player, every day I get to work with my mentor and continue to develop myself as a leader, coach, and father under his tutelage.
What makes UMass unique from a lacrosse perspective?
We take pride in being the flagship campus in the state of Massachusetts. Two out of the three coaches on staff are alumni of the program (including the HC). We also feel very fortunate to have a lacrosse-only facility right in the middle of campus and a hundred yards away from our player’s dorms as well as their dining.
What makes UMass unique from a campus perspective?
Number #1 dining food in the country – 3 years in a row! We also just opened a $62 million dollar extension to our nationally ranked business school, the Isenberg School of Management. Isenberg also has the #1 Sports Management program in the world.
What do the majority of players major in?
Half of our team is in the Isenberg School of Management in some capacity. There are 7 majors within the business school. Another popular major is BCT, Building Construction Technology.
What are your schools strongest/most competitive major?
Isenberg School of Management
What about your current team do you enjoy the most?
I think we have a great senior class that has led on and off the field since they arrived on campus as a freshman. Those seniors have a laid a strong foundation of work ethic and commitment for everyone else to follow. I think we have a group that is not afraid to work hard and teammates that are willing to do whatever is necessary for the betterment of the team. Right now players are accepting their roles and continuously working to expand their roles.
How does the staff help the captains lead the team?
We meet with the captains multiple times a week. Usually after a game and also to start the week. We discuss our team’s vision for the week, individuals on the team and what we need to work on to improve.
What do you look for in an underclassman when it comes to leadership?
We believe you can lead regardless of your age. If you work hard in everything you do and conduct yourself the right way on and off the field, you are a leader on this team. We promote young players to be as vocal as they want and to hold themselves and their teammates accountable every day. As a young player, there is a lot on your plate so if you can lead your class and lead by example that is a great way to lead early in your career.
Does your team have a mantra or slogan you live by? Why?
We have our “UMASS WAY”. It entails the acronym “HARD HAT” The UMass Way defines the fundamental pillars in which the program was built on. A blue-collar mentality, appreciating the opportunity, respect, accepting reality and toughness are some of those pillars.
What are your thoughts on the new dive rule?
I love it. It makes the game exciting and that is coming from a former goalie!
What are your thoughts on the new shot clock?
I love it. It makes the game more exciting and fast pace.
How has it changed your style of play? Offensively/Defensively/Clearing
The shot clock has not changed our style one bit. We had played a very up-tempo style before the shot clock was in place and if anything it has made us play even faster.
How often do your players workout during the season?
In-season during a normal week, we have the guys lift 2X. Some players that are not playing a ton on game day will do an optional 3rd lift.
What are the expectations of your staff for the summer and training?
We expect to see great improvements from everyone in terms of strength and conditioning. The summer is long and if you are dedicated to your nutrition and training you can really make great gains during the summer. We also expect our guys to play as much as possible and take the time to improve themselves as individuals. Offseason time is a great opportunity to get yourself better and separate yourself from the competition.
What does your program do in regards to nutrition?
We are very fortunate to have a nutritionist in the athletic department. As a team, we will go to the dining hall with the nutritionist in the fall and she will show our guys the proper meals for pre-game / post-game, if guys want to gain muscle or get lean, etc. Since we have the #1 food in the country, it is very easy for our guys to not only eat healthy but enjoy their meals as well. The nutritionist also will have a power point presentation that she will send to all of our players with nutritional tips and guidelines. Our strength coach will also have our players send him pictures of their meals to make sure they are fueling their bodies properly!
UMass Team’s Top Performers:
40 YARD DASH: 4.43
What does your summer look like when it comes to recruiting? When do you start getting active at HS games?
We will start going to HS games once our season has concluded. We start by going out and seeing all of our committed recruits and also the recruits we have had a visit in the fall/spring.
How many staff members are on the road?
Three of us are on the road.
Do you guys take specific regions or go to specific events?
Nope. We look at events in terms of location, teams attending, and where the players we are recruiting are attending.
What events do you run on campus and when are they?
We will be hosting our 5th annual Public School Showcase at UMass on 7/18/19.
What do you look for when recruiting?
Regardless of position, we are looking for tough, athletic and high IQ lacrosse players.
Defenders who can win 1-on-1 match-ups, have great skills in transition and are willing to match their numbers on someone else’s numbers if they get into the paint area.
Offensively we want guys who have great skills and play just as hard without the ball in their stick as they do with it. We only recruit midfielders that can play two ways and play fast in between the lines.
In the cage, we want a goalie with exceptional hands and mental toughness (next play mentality). We like goalies that are multi-sport athletes and we like to see that with all the other positions as well.
At the X, we look for someone who is fearless and mentally tough. We want our faceoff guys to have great skill as well. A big piece of our transition game is generated off of the faceoff.
If I was a current 2020 who is uncommitted, what advice would you give me?
Don’t stress. There are plenty of schools recruiting the 2020 class still. We are certainly one of them! Reach out to your top 5 schools, attach your spring schedule and your summer schedule if you have it. The best way to get in front of all the coaches at whatever school you are interested in is to attend their prospect day. When you send your email, please be specific to each school. Stay away from being generic. Show the coaches you really are interested and have taken the steps to research the school already.
How has the recruiting process changed for your staff since the new rule has come into effect?
We haven’t seen much change. Obviously, we are going to contact the recruits on Sept 1st that we are very interested in. However, if you don’t hear from us on Sept 1st, it doesn’t mean we aren’t interested! We found that we were making calls, sending emails and notes throughout that first week and that continued throughout the fall. We have slowed down the recruiting process the past few years and as a result, we feel we have gotten some really great “late bloomers.” We aren’t going to offer a student-athlete that hasn’t visited, met our guys and seen our campus. As much as we want a recruit, we want someone who believes in our program and wants to be a part of it as well.