Don’t settle. Don’t get comfortable. Pave your own way.
Ohio State men’s lacrosse coach Nick Myers said he strives to instill that advice in his Buckeye team, and will soon encourage another group of young men as the head coach of the 2016 U.S. Men’s National Under-19 team, a position he said he humbly accepts.
“The opportunity to put the stars and stripes on and be a part of Team USA and associate with US Lacrosse is something I’ve dreamed about,” Myers said. “The mission is to go there and win a championship.”
Myers grew up in southern Maine, a location that isn’t necessarily known for breeding lacrosse players. But as the sport made a slow and steady spread from traditional hotbeds like New York and Maryland, he credited his stepfather for first placing a stick in his hands, guiding him on an admittedly nontraditional journey to where he is today.
“In sixth or seventh grade, we were the only kids in our town that had sticks,” Myers said. “We were running a club team kind of out of our house … In high school I never played on a varsity team, it was always a club team.”
After graduating from Springfield College (Massachusetts) in 2001 with a Division III All-American honor, he almost immediately began his relationship with OSU, starting as a volunteer assistant during the 2002-03 season. He simultaneously waited tables at Outback Steakhouse to make ends meet, but said the sacrifices were worthwhile.
He never looked back from there, taking just six years to reach the top of the program.
“I’ve really grown up in this athletic department,” Myers said. “I was 21 when I first got here, now I’m 35. It’s been a lot of growth.”
Since becoming head coach in 2008, Myers has led the Buckeyes to the 2013 Eastern College Athletic Conference Tournament, the 2013 NCAA quarterfinals with the No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament, and has reaped numerous All-American and all-conference honors. While Myers has shown success on the field, he said he believes achieving success requires much more than just winning.
At OSU, Myers established a leadership council and developed a mentor program between seniors and freshmen, recognizing the student-athlete challenges while offering support.
“We’re working to create a really strong foundation and to develop them as men,” he said. “We ask, ‘Are they leaving here with a skill set that has really been refined?’ And if we can do that, we’re hopefully doing more than just coaching them on the field.”
After earning a degree in education and marrying a teacher, Myers said he never imagined a career outside coaching. And though he lives to teach others, he said he recognizes the importance of self-growth as well, crediting the many mentors he himself has learned from along the way.
“Each year you have an opportunity to impact more student athletes but you’re always looking outside yourself to grow, to learn,” Myers said. “There are so many people I’ve had the opportunity to work with who have taught me a great deal, people who are willing to take the time to spend with a coach who’s still learning the ropes.”
Among those mentors, Myers particularly credits former OSU coach Joe Breschi for enabling his success both on and off the field, something Breschi said he is proud of.
“He is a wonderful tactician and has great passion for the game,” Breschi said. “Nick has the unique ability to balance coaching, family and faith while keeping all life’s challenges in perspective.”
As a coach, Myers perpetually seeks to “sharpen his saw,” and as a husband and father of two boys, ages 2 and 4 (who are already armed with sticks, helmets and pads), the balance he strives for off the field is essential with his team at OSU.
“The ones who separate themselves are the ones who can be humbled, yet are still starving to get better,” Myers said. “We encourage our men to be go-getters, to be hungry, to crave feedback and to be pushed and challenged.”
Myers and the Buckeyes are currently hungry for their first road win of 2015, and have a chance to pick one up against Bellarmine on Friday. The game set to begin at 7:30 p.m. in Louisville, Ky.