Dan Rosa is a retired firefighter from New Jersey who has made lacrosse a major part of his life and now wants to make the lacrosse program an integral part of the North Myrtle Beach High School sports.
Rosa is in his third year at the school as the boys lacrosse coach but lacrosse has been a vital part of his life since 1977. “1977 was the year I started playing lacrosse in seventh grade in New Jersey. I played in high school and community college where I was ranked 8th in the country as a goalie. After college I started coaching several sports including football, bowling, track and lacrosse, but my heart was always in lacrosse,” Rosa said during Friday’s practice.
Rosa has always coached at the high school level and found his niche when he moved to Brick High School in Toms River, N.J. There he started a youth program in lacrosse with 20 kids. By the third year he had 300 kids playing club lacrosse. He went on to coach boys and girls lacrosse as well as travel and “elite” lacrosse.
When he retired from the fire service, he moved to North Myrtle Beach, emailed the athletic director to offer his services for the lacrosse program, then in its first year. ”I got a call the next day saying the job was mine. It was a perfect fit for me. I’m now in my third full season with the boys,” Rosa said.
It was tough at first. “The year I came in under the original coach, we didn’t win a game. The first full year for me, again we didn’t win a game, but I spent that year putting in place the policies, theories and knowledge to improve the program. Last year we won five games. This year our goal is to have a winning record. We are 2-2. I think we have progressed further than we even expected,” Rosa said.
Rosa was happy the team had beaten Socastee for the first time and had a long travel day Saturday to play Laurence Manning Academy in Manning. They play local schools like Waccamaw, Socastee, Carolina Forest, Myrtle Beach, as well as West Brunswick and South Brunswick in North Carolina. “We are in our third year. Most of these schools are 12 years ahead of us. This year we have a sixteen game schedule and will play Beaufort and Manning as well as the local schools. We want to let people know we are here. We plan on being in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade so people can see the players and their ‘sticks’ and get more people interested.”
“I spent a whole day at the middle school talking to 7th graders so they can come out to our program. We want the young ones and we already have seen some interest from the school. ‘Once you put your hands on the stick, you’re hooked.’,” Rosa said.
Rosa stated one of his team’s strengths was that they are “very balanced. We have some strong players, five good defensemen and we are a young team building for the future. I also want to build these kids for a future at college. I told the team ‘we are not surviving a game or a season, we are building a program.’ We have to stick to a plan and steps and stages have to be taken to build sound lacrosse skills,” Rosa said.
Rosa coaches the boys varsity and Katie Brady coaches the girls varsity. “We have a great group of kids and I have the best coaching staff (Joe Cornett and Mark Cabaniss) I’ve ever had the chance to work with. Three coaches with 55 kids and we are able to manage it all and compliment each other. We have all played the game, have been doing it for 43 years and have coached in a lot of successful programs,” Rosa said.
Rosa has 25 players on the varsity team and an excellent crop of JV players with interest from 7th and 8th graders as well. “I have 9th graders who are capable of playing at the varsity level and a lot of interest from the community and students, just what we are looking for. As we progress, we talk about realistic goals. We have talked about having a winning record. It’s now up to them to show up and make it happen,” Rosa said.
As of last Saturday, Rosa and his team moved to a winning record by beating Laurence Manning Academy 12-1. The Chiefs lost their opening game 3-2 to Carolina Forest, beat Socastee 5-4, lost to St. James 14-4 and beat South Brunswick 8-2 prior to their win in Manning.