I spoke to newly named Princeton coach Chris Bates earlier this afternoon, and I have to laugh at how the conversation began.
He asked me what I’ve been up to and after I told him about my various ventures, he said, “Wow. It’s been a whirlwind for you.”
Actually, I can’t think of a better word than that to describe what the 1986 John Jay graduate has been through of late.
It’s been a whirlwind, indeed.
Just two weeks ago, he was contacted by Princeton’s search committee (which included former Tigers and Nyack standout Jon Hess). Now, he has one of the best three or four coaching jobs in college lax.
Think about those programs, folks. Syracuse. Hopkins. Virginia. Princeton.
Now think about the coaches there.
How often do these jobs open up? Not very.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said Bates, who becomes the first former Section 1 player to be head coach of one of the Big Four programs. “I have to admit, when I put on the orange and black for the first time yesterday, it did feel a bit strange.”
That feeling won’t last for long, I’m sure. It’s an unbelievable opportunity for Bates and one I’m sure he will give it his all to and be very successful.
After all, he guided a Drexel team to prominence and wins over such marquee programs as Virginia with limited national visibility and resources and recruiting appeal not even close to that which he will enjoy at Princeton.
Now, to practical matters. Bates told me he’s in the process of contacting Drexel players and recruits among them, of course, John Jay graduate Kevin Stockel and incoming freshman Nick Trizano of Iona Prep.
He also will be reaching out to incoming Princeton recruits such as Jeff Froccaro of Port Washington and Thomas Schreiber of St. Anthony’s to introduce himself.
And tomorrow, the contact period begins, so Bates will working on a whole new pool of recruits.
I asked him if his plans were basically to attend the same recruiting showcase events he would have had he still been at Drexel, but to look for more highly regarded recruits than he would have had he not accepted the Princeton job.
“I’d have to say that’s a pretty good way to describe it,” Bates said. “I’ll be going to the same events, but looking at a different type of kid.”
Bates will be so immersed in recruiting this summer, he’s handed off the responsibility of finding a house near Princeton to his wife.
“It’s not so bad because I’m only 60 miles away right now,” he said.
Bates also will be spending a lot of time returning messages from scores of well-wishers, including many Princeton alumni he’s never met, but who’ve contacted him.
Bates told me he sought input from former Princeton coach Bill Tierney during the interview process, but had not spoken to him since formally accepting the job yesterday.
“That’s going to be my next call after I talk to you,” Bates said.
Reach Joe Lombardi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted In: College lacrosse