Veteran lacrosse coach Kyle Hannan enters his first year as head men’s lacrosse coach at Mercer University. Coach Hannan was hired to help the lacrosse team prepare for the team’s third season as a competitive lacrosse program. Hannan sat down with The Cluster to discuss his experience in lacrosse and how he plans to advance Mercer’s lacrosse team.
Cluster: How did you get introduced to lacrosse?
Hannan: I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and that’s kind of the way of life in that region. I really was a football and basketball player. I started really young at baseball and quickly transferred over to lacrosse. Actually my best friend’s father played in college and really got his son and myself playing at a fairly young age. I just really loved the sport.
C: How old were you?
H: Between 10 and 12. I was playing tee ball and baseball and then converted over.
C: Were there recreational teams?
H: Yes, a lot of recreational teams. It was a prominent sport in Baltimore. I was actually late getting into the sport compared to the guys I played with in college. They started younger than me, it was pretty amazing.
C: Were you good when you first started?
H: I’ve been obsessed with sports since the day I could walk. I think playing football, playing basketball at a young age helped me pick up lacrosse fairly quickly.
C: Did you pick your college based on lacrosse?
H: I did. I had a pretty broad list. I really chose Salisbury University because of its strong reputation in lacrosse. I felt a strong connection to the school.
C: What did you major in?
C: Did you ever use your degree to teach?
H: No – well, I use my teaching degree everyday as a coach, but I was offered a coaching position two days after my last game. There was no rest period or time to consider anything else. I stayed at Salisbury for two years and received my masters and coached.
C: So you were teaching kids who were barely younger than yourself?
H: You got it. Yes.
C: Was that awkward?
H: Maybe. In some degree it was a great learning experience, because a lot of the guys I coached, I played with. I had to learn how to go from teammate to coach. It was a valuable experience and worked well. I had a lot of respect for my teammates and I respected them.
C: No conflicts?
H: No, it was a pretty smooth transition.
C: Where else did you coach?
H: My first full-time teaching position was at Bates College, a small school in New England. I was the wide-receivers coach on the football team and then took the position of head lacrosse coach.
Hannan then discussed short stints at various lacrosse programs throughout the nation.
H: I stayed at Goucher for 12 years in Baltimore going full circle. It’s a good place to raise children and I had a mutual respect with the athletic director. I enjoyed working for him.
C: Why did you say so long?
H: Once you develop a culture, it’s interesting to watch that play out. I had so many short stops before. When I got to Goucher and we started to win games and conferences, I really felt like I wanted to change my history. I wanted to enjoy the benefits of winning championship games and watching players leave the program. That’s really why I stayed there, to watch these young men graduate from the program.
C: How did you find out about Mercer’s program?
H: I had a very good friend of mine who I practiced with a ton in college give me a call. He mentioned that he spent some time down here [Mercer University] and really appreciated the direction the program was going. I thought it would be a great opportunity. It was a whirlwind.
C: What was the lacrosse program like when you first joined?
H: They had only been a varsity for two years. They weren’t able to meet full-out success. The school had made a commitment to lacrosse, but they didn’t have the facilities. They were swimming up stream. They only won division I game in those two years. I really believed that things could change quickly, and they certainly have. We’ve had three scrimmages this semester. Our first game is this Saturday.
C: What did you bring to the table?
H: I’ve had a lot of stops along the way. I can say there has been a lot of change, not that the way before was wrong. Change in commitment to athletics, community services, work ethic, academics, diets, and schedule. I’m really proud of the players, the way they jumped on board. So far, it’s been a really positive experience for everyone.
C: How do you think you’ll do on Saturday?
H: Well it’s tough to predict the future. I do feel like because of the players we’ve brought in and the ethic and the improvement we’ve seen since September makes me feel confident that we are heading in the right direction.
Coach Hannan is leading the men’s lacrosse team on Drake field on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. against Rollins College.