clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Syracuse men’s lacrosse creates super staff to bring it back to prominence

Two legends of the game take charge of the ‘Cuse program in need of new life.

2014 MLL All Star Game Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

In recent years, Syracuse alum and ESPN lacrosse analyst Paul Carcaterra has more than once talked about his “Mount Rushmore” of college lacrosse on broadcasts or social media.

During that time, he’s kept a consistent quartet: Mikey Powell, Lyle Thompson, Gary Gait and Dave Pietramala.

While the “Mount Rushmore” concept in sports exists for the purpose of debate, there’s not much of that going on around Gait and Pietramala. They are widely considered to be the best offensive and defensive players ever to play the game, respectively. They’re at the very least prominently featured in those conversations.

In their youths, they went head-to-head with each other in the Syracuse-Hopkins rivalry that defined the sport in the 1980s, with Petro’s physicality trying to slow Gait’s athleticism and skill.

More than three decades later, they are now combining all their powers, knowledge and experience gained from a lifetime spent in the game, all for the purpose of returning Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse to the top of the mountain.

There is much that SU fans will be curious to discover about how these two recruit, strategize and coach in their new roles, and that will all come with time. For the moment, we’re left to marvel at what may well be an unprecedented coaching staff in all of sports.

Gary Gait and Dave Pietramala: two of the greatest players in lacrosse history joined together on one coaching staff. Has the history of sports ever seen a coaching staff with two people who were so accomplished as players in that respective sport? If you can think of one, let me know in the comments, because Quint Kessenich and I would like to know the answer:

It’s remarkable to think about the two of them on a staff together. I mean, it’s kind of hard to picture Michael Jordan and Bill Russell on one coaching staff. Or Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. I realize lacrosse exists on a smaller plane of popularity than other sports, but it’s still amazing.

Now, you might be thinking, who cares? After all, what do Gait and Petro’s playing careers have to do with them as coaches in 2021? That’s a fair point. Being a great player is not a guarantee of anything in the coaching realm. But therein lies the kicker...

Gait and Pietramala both have extensive, impressive resumes as coaches. We already know they're good, successful coaches to add to the fact that they were great players.

Pietramala has been coaching for over 30 years, most famously the 20 that he spent coaching archival Johns Hopkins to great success. His two coaching national championships combined with the one he won as a player in 1987 make him the only person in Division I lacrosse history to win a championship as both a player and a coach.

Gait wants to join him and make that a list of two people. While he doesn’t currently have the title, his coaching resume does date back decades, as well. What he has done was lead the transformation of the Syracuse women’s program into the national power that it is today.

Now, none of this will ultimately matter as they start their new roles. They both have completely blank resumes as coaches with the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team. They’ll have to prove themselves all over again, and do it with an immense amount of pressure to revive a fallen giant.

If they can do it, they’ll be remembered as the coaching staff that brought Syracuse back to prominence. And they’ll have earned it, because there is a lot of work to do to get back to the top, right coach?