Herkimer’s Men’s Lacrosse season has recently begun. This year the team will see three exhibition games, nine regular season games, and the NJCAA DIII Championship. The season will continue until mid-May. Coaching the men’s team is Robert Leary. Leary may only be in his first year as head coach at Herkimer, but he is far from being an amateur.
Leary has had multiple positions as assistant and head coach to men’s lacrosse teams at many colleges including Elmira College, SUNY Poly, SUNY Delhi, Onondaga Community College, and Marian University. With so many years of experience, it is not surprising that he has some honorable mentions. Leary was named the NJCAA Region III Lacrosse Coach of the Year in 2012, Mountain Valley Conference Lacrosse Coach of the Year for 2005, 2010, 2013, and 2014. He was also the president of the Region III Lacrosse Coaches Association and the NJCAA Lacrosse Coaches Association for five years.
When asked what made him want to coach men’s lacrosse, Leary responded that it was his experience at Herkimer when he was a student that inspired him to coach. He attributed Paul Wehrum, Herkimer’s men’s lacrosse coach from 1980 to 2003 to teaching him much of what he knows about the sport. Leary considers it a dream come true to be able to return to Herkimer and be a part of the lacrosse program, this time not as a student but a coach.
Herkimer recently had a scrimmage against SUNY Poly on February 16. Leary stated that he was excited about it, especially seeing that he was the first lacrosse coach for Poly and that they had come a long way since he had been there and looked forward to the challenge. And a challenge it was, it seemed. The day of the scrimmage, Herkimer was dwarfed by the number of players Poly had. Despite that, they put up a fight and didn’t let Poly score too easily.
Overall, Leary is optimistic about this year’s season, despite the pandemic. Roster size is smaller this year and Leary is prioritizing the health of the team much more, seeing that they do not have much to spare, especially if someone gets injured. Even though the team is small in number, Leary states that “We have some quality players on this team, I’m confident we will represent Herkimer with honor.” Knowing this season’s opponents will challenge the team in some form, Leary ended his message with “We will respect the game and our opponents. Lacrosse is called the Creator’s Game; we play to bring joy to the world.”