WLAX : Gait’s hands-on approach to practice advantageous for SU

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on April 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Rachel: [email protected]center_img As the ball rolled away from the goal, Gary Gait raced toward the sideline. The former Syracuse men’s lacrosse star scooped it up and relayed it back into the field of players.This is the norm for Gait these days. The SU women’s lacrosse head coach announced his retirement from professional lacrosse at the beginning of the season and is now solely focused on coaching.‘It’s just fun to get out there once in a while and try to demonstrate the things you try and coach,’ Gait said. ‘It’s just a nice change of pace. It lightens up the practice once in a while and makes it fun.’Gait, arguably one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time, is using his playing experience to get the women’s team prepared for games. The fourth-year head coach provides his team with an advantage other teams don’t have, in the form of a coach who still has some game left in him. And the step he might have lost with age doesn’t deter him.‘Certainly not like it used to be,’ Gait said of his past prime. ‘I used to be much better at demonstrating. But you know, it’s definitely fun to get out there and show them what they can do.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor the players, there’s no better person to go up against than Gait. He doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of the players the team faces in its games — he’s bigger and taller — but his skill and experience provide help for both the offense and defense.Whether it is his passes, field vision or shooting, it all helps the team.‘As a goalie, it’s great because you’re never going to see a better shot than Gary Gait,’ goaltender Liz Hogan said.But even with Gait’s coaching, the team has not been immune to struggles. SU is just 3-6 on the season after facing one of the toughest schedules in the country so far.With the second half of the season about to start, assistant coach Regy Thorpe is confident the team has found the chemistry needed to pick up some more wins. He attributes the development of team cohesion to Gait.‘Certainly he was a phenomenal player in his time, and he’s a phenomenal coach,’ Thorpe said. ‘And I think having that experience as a player, a recently retired player, not too far from the locker room, understanding the dynamics of a locker room and chemistry and the ups and downs of a season (is good). And we’ve been going through that.’Gait and the team have a chance to finish the season above .500 with the bulk of its Big East schedule ahead. Five straight Big East games await, with four of them in the Carrier Dome.With those games looming, senior Catherine Rodriguez says practice with Gait presents an opportunity to learn more. A chance to pick up those important wins in crucial conference games. Because even though Gait is a lot bigger than any female the team will face, his on-field demonstrations provide insight into how the best players play.‘He helps us practice defending the dodge and also trying to get those checks off because he protects the stick really well,’ Rodriguez said, ‘and just kind of get in the movement and flow and stuff because he can obviously see the field really well.’Gait may be done playing professionally, but that’s not the reason why he grabs a stick and runs onto the field in practice. It is something he has always done.He has a good feel for the game and knows when to be serious and when to have fun, Thorpe said.‘He’s a type of coach and player that likes to lead by example and certainly not just tell the players, but show them and demonstrate it,’ Thorpe said. ‘So he’s great like that. ‘He’s a great guy to coach with. We have a lot of fun.’[email protected]last_img

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