One-on-one with NLL coach of the year Ed Comeau
The accolades keep piling up for Stoney Creek’s Ed Comeau.
The longtime laxer was recently awarded this year’s Les Bartley Award — his second — as the National Lacrosse League’s top coach. Under his watch, the Georgia Swarm registered the best regular season record in the loop and won the franchise’s first Champion’s Cup.
Earlier this week, The Spectator tracked him down to talk about his winning season, social media escapades and the lacrosse scene in the deep South. Here’s an excerpt from the interview, edited for length and clarity:
Teri Pecoskie: You’ve been coaching in the NLL for a long time — almost two decades — and you’ve had a lot of memorable and championship-winning seasons. Is there anything about this one in particular that stood out?
Ed Comeau: We only had a couple of veteran guys and older guys in their 30s. It was a really young team, and to be able to watch your team grow and evolve and just play with such a level of confidence — it was a lot different than some of the other successful years and championships that I’ve been part of.
TP: What do you think makes you a good coach?
EC: I think success as a coach is oftentimes built on the experiences you have as a coach, and I learned a lot working with Les Bartley. That’s who the coach of the year award is named after ... I think the biggest lesson I learned from Les is Xs and Os are important, but managing people and how you treat people is much more important. As a young coach, you’re always all about the Xs and Os, and I think as you get older you realize that’s important, but to be able to have relationships with your players and build a level of trust with them is real critical.
TP: What is the appetite for la-
crosse like in Georgia?
EC: It’s developing. Field lacrosse is becoming really big down there. We’re trying to help fuel the growth of box lacrosse in the Georgia area, but there’s tons of field lacrosse, high school field lacrosse programs. One of the questions we ask our players is, “Are you moving to Georgia?” because we need coaches for our high school teams, our youth teams. We’re at that stage where it’s growing so fast, the infrastructure needs to grow with it.
TP: The season runs from January to April. Do you move to Atlanta for those four months?
EC: No. Almost all our players and staff fly in, a lot of frequent flyers. We fly in for Friday night games. Usually Friday evening we fly in, we try to get a practice in late Friday night, and have a shoot around Saturday. Play Saturday and fly home Sunday.
TP: I think that must be one of the more difficult things about coaching in the NLL — the limited amount of time that your team spends together.EC:
It definitely presents a challenge. There are some teams in the league — Toronto, Rochester, Buffalo, Vancouver — they’re all local guys and they’re able to have practices and get guys together, and that’s a bit of an advantage if you’re going to do that ... We’ve always said our practices are going to be our video reviews or our conference calls. We’re not getting together to cross-check each other into the ground during the week, but we’re going to get together on conference calls or via emails.
TP: I have to ask about the championship celebration. I saw that you posted a couple of pretty incoherent tweets. What’s the story?
EC: I didn’t think it was possible, Teri, to pocket tweet, but apparently I did it! The guys — they were bugging me to go on Twitter this year — and they said, ‘Eddie, you know you can pull them back, right?’ And I said ‘No! I didn’t know that. Nobody told me that. I didn’t know!’ People were saying, like, ‘Was that code? What were you trying to say?’ I didn’t know I was saying anything. Yeah, it was fun. We had a fun night.
TP: Now that the season is over, what are you up to this summer?
EC: Well, I’m involved in Hamilton Minor, so I coach the Midget 2 team my boys play on, so I like to do that. We try to get out to watch some games when the season — you know, when one season is over the next season starts with scouting and the draft, so we spend a fair bit of time with the Swarm ... I’m also doing the national team stuff ... There’s never a holiday from lacrosse.
Comeau: National Lacrosse League’s top coach