“If you don’t pay attention, you’re going to get whacked pretty hard.”

Lacrosse team practices behind their new coach, Matt Hogan



Head coach, Men's Lacrosse

Length of service:

1 1/2 months

Other stuff:

FIs planning to bring youth lacrosse players and coaches to campus for clinics. Is number six in a family of eight, seven of them boys.

Photo by Candice DiCarlo

After 13 years in Annapolis, Md., a small, quiet town, Penn’s new head coach of men’s lacrosse can’t wait to explore the city with his wife CeCe and children, John, 10, and Maggie, 8. He’s not just thinking shows and zoo and Art Museum, either. “I haven’t been to South Street yet,” said Matt Hogan, 41. “I want to see South Street.”

But first he has to get a house. It needs to be only a short commute away from Penn, and it needs to have a yard—room enough for his kids to play lacrosse. One of the upsides of moving to this area was the way local youth lacrosse is taking off, he said.

In Annapolis, Hogan was assistant coach and defensive face-off coordinator for the United States Naval Academy lacrosse team, which finished first nationally in defense in 2000 for lowest goals-against average and was fourth nationally in the same category in 2001. Prior to that he served as head coach at Clarkson University from 1986 to 1988, bringing the team there its first-ever national ranking and its first postseason championship.

Q. Why did you become interested in lacrosse?
We moved from Annapolis to Lancaster, Pa., when I was in kindergarten, just starting first grade. The guys who lived next door to us were all lacrosse players at Franklin & Marshall [College]. We all just fell in love with them. We actually still stay in touch with those guys. So we started playing lacrosse.

We moved from Lancaster to Connecticut when I was in third grade. And [the schools there] just started lacrosse in the high school. My oldest brother was a senior, so he didn’t play. But all the boys, the other six of us, all played lacrosse. We just loved it. We all played soccer or football, we all swam or wrestled, we all did three sports in high school. But we all of us played lacrosse. It’s just, I don’t know, it ‘s like a disease. You get caught up in it. You talk to people about the lacrosse fraternity or the lacrosse community, it’s a pretty small one, a pretty special one.

Not a lot of people know about it. And it’s extremely, highly sensitive when you’re playing.

Q. What do you mean?
You’ve got a lot of things going on. If you don’t pay attention, you’re going to get whacked pretty hard.

Q. You mean literally whacked, I assume?
Yeah. You need to have all your senses extremely active to play, extremely reactive.

Q. What are the prospects of the team you’re coaching here?
We’re very excited. The guys at this time have given me everything that they can. Our staff has asked them to do more than they have in the past, and they jumped on board with everything we’ve asked them to do.

Q. What sorts of things more?
There’s a greater emphasis on the weightlifting right now. There’s a greater emphasis on the level of emotion and intensity we’re asking of them. I’ve asked for a great commitment. And they’re willing to put the commitment in.

I understand that academics are very important here, but I also believe that you can be committed to lacrosse and you can be committed to your academics and you can be successful at both. I don’t believe one has to be sacrificed for the other to be good. I tell them all the time, I expect you in the classroom not to be drawing x’s and o’s on your paper, and when you’re on the lacrosse field, I don’t want you doing calculus problems in your head.

Q. What’s on your agenda for them this year?
We are defining who we are. Last Saturday, we played … four short abbreviated games [against four colleges]. It was very good for us. We really learned a lot about who we are.

Q. Is there anything you would do differently from your past coaching experiences?
Well, you always like to have your first year back as a head coach. You would do things differently. This is a learning process. I’ve been through it once. I think I’ve learned a lot from that process.

This is a different kind of recruiting than I’ve been doing, especially at the Naval Academy. I’m recruiting some really smart kids. I like that. Would I do things differently than I’ve done in the past? No, not so much. A lot of the philosophies I think you bring with you are the same.

Q. What are your impressions of Philadelphia?
I like Philadelphia. Extremely diverse, entertaining, high energy, lots of things to do.

Q. I can tell you don’t come from New York.
We’ve been taking our recruits to Pat’s Steaks. It’s been interesting. It’s been fun. I’ve been looking forward to exploring what Philadelphia has to offer to my wife and me and to my children. There’s the shows, the museums, the art galleries. I haven’t been to South Street yet. I want to see South Street. I like what I hear about South Street. I just think there’s a lot here that’s very different than where I came from. Annapolis was a small, quaint, quiet town. And this isn’t.

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Originally published on October 25, 2001