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 joe@laxlessons.com.

Posted In: College lacrosse

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16 Responses to “Bates is off and running at Princeton”

  1. Joe Lombardi says:

    While we’re on the topic of college lax, thought you folks would be interested in this.

    Virginia coach Dom Starsia talks about incoming recruits Connor English of Manhasset, Nick O’Reilly of South Side and Matt White of Ridgefield in this article from the rvablogs out of Richmond, Va. There’s also some interesting info on JJ grad Chris Bocklet, who will be a sophomore next season for the Cavaliers, who will be rebuilding — or should that be reloading? — their attack.

    Here’s the link:


  2. HV Lax says:

    Excellent article Joe. This is a huge story and huge for Hudson Valley lacrosse and Section 1 to have one of its own coaching one of the Big 4 programs in the nation for the first time. Good luck Coach Bates at Princeton.

  3. Joe Lombardi says:

    No question about it, HV Lax. This is one of the biggest developments and boosts in prestige for lacrosse in the Hudson Valley in a long time.

    What’s interesting is that Chris Bates is already in the Hudson Valley Lacrosse Hall of Fame for his efforts as a player at John Jay and Dartmouth. Though I never saw him play at either JJ or in college, he is certainly on the short list of top players to come out of Section 1. Now, he has to be regarded as one of the best coaches, too — if he wasn’t already.

  4. slacrosse says:

    I know the quality of Lacrosse recruits is getting deeper and more schools are getting these types of players but Virginia’s AD should really hold Starsia to the HIGHEST expectation for putting together MULTIPLE championships in quick succession(gee, at least get to the finals!). I mean, come on, the Brattons, Stanwick, Bocklett, + other AA’s on the team, and now, English, White, Lapierre to name a few. If the Yankees dont win this yr, Girardi goes. If UVA doesn’t at least get to the finals, then Starsia……..

  5. Old Rugger says:

    Every time I see someone talk about UVA it is always attack and the Brattons,
    Defense, Defense, Defense UVA can score but can they stop others from scoring?

  6. Joe Lombardi says:

    Excellent point, Old Rugger. Yes, UVA has brought in the Brattons and probably the majority of top-ranked attack recruits the last couple of years, but what wins championships?

    In my view, it’s these things:

    * Faceoffs and specialty teams

    * Groundballs

    * Defense

    * Goaltending

  7. slacrosse says:

    Old Rugger,

    Good point. Great D wins championships!

  8. Jaybird says:

    This is real exciting news. Good luck Chris. We’re all proud of you.

  9. Joe Lombardi says:

    Looks like Drexel has found itself a new coach — and it’s a good one. Brian Voelker, who has been head coach at Penn the last seven years, has apparently decided to make the trip crosstown.

    Good job by Drexel moving quickly, especially with recruiting contacts and evaluations ongoing all month.

    But Voelker’s first order of business will be reaching out to incoming freshmen, such as Iona Prep’s Nick Trizano, to make sure they are still committed to playing for the Dragons.

    Here’s more on Voelker:


  10. Lax Novice says:

    Boy, what does that say about coaching lax in the Ivy League when a third head coach has resigned his position after this past season? Are the recruiting wars taking its toll on the staffs of America’s most prestigious universities? Or are there other factors at work? Or is it all a big coincidence?

    Those of you who, unlike myself, are well informed, please provide some guidance.

  11. Taz says:

    Joe – Have heard that Bates will not be supporting all of the original Class of ’14 recruits in the admissions process – any truth to that or a myth?

  12. Lax Novice says:

    Perhaps I could ask Taz’s question in a broader sense. What is the committment that an Ivy school makes to a rising senior that is at all binding on either side? If I’m counting on my fingers correctly, the Class of ’14 is this summer’s HS rising senior class. Presumably formal applications have already been made for admission, but there’s no National Letter of Intent signed yet. So if the Ivy’s don’t send early admission letters until this fall, then there’s nothing formal, on either side. Is there anything more than an informal understanding that an applicant will very likely be admitted?

  13. Joe Lombardi says:

    Taz –
    What happens is every new coach tells an incoming player what his thoughts are about his potential and how he envisions him fitting into the program. Coaches should be honest and upfront. Sometimes kids decide on their own it’s no longer the best fit for them and move on to other schools.

    As far as Brian Voelker’s appointment at Drexel, Nick Trizano of Iona Prep, the No. 2 scorer in NYS history behind Casey Powell, breathed a sigh of relief. Voelker, who is regarded as a players’ coach, recruited Trizano at Penn and Trizano is comfortable with him and vice versa.

  14. slacrosse says:

    Lax Novice,

    Maybe a couple of so so seasons + admissions battles pushed him out???

  15. Joe Lombardi says:

    It could be, SL. I believe that was also a factor in Bill Tierney’s decision to leave Princeton. In his case, you’d have to say “so-so seasons” by Princeton’s standards — up until this season at least.

  16. Joe Lombardi says:

    Here’s some news from the high school ranks.

    Chip Salvestrini, a Ridgefield native and Danbury’s highly regarded athletic director, is leaving to become the athletic director at White Plains High School. He will also be the school’s director of physical education.

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