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June 11, 2009

Tierney Changes Stripes, and The Game

Coverage: Bill Tierney to Denver

* Bill Tierney Leaves Princeton for Denver
* Tanton: Tierney Changes Stripes, the Game
* Wiedmaier Wants Metzbower
* Metzbower Turns Down Princeton Job
* Man of the Hour: In Depth with Bill Tierney
* Trevor Tierney Confident in Dad, Denver
* DU's Brown: 'I Can't Wait Until September'

by Bill Tanton | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Coach Bill Tierney’s move from Princeton to the University of Denver announced earlier this week is highly reminiscent of another lacrosse coaching change more than a half century ago.
That one, in 1950, was a shocker. That one changed the face of lacrosse.

Tierney’s move west was just as shocking to everyone I mentioned it to. The general response was: You’re kidding! Are you serious? And of course a few asked: Why?

In the late 1940s, Howdy Myers was considered the best lacrosse coach in the country.

However, when Myers left Johns Hopkins to go to Hofstra as head coach of lacrosse and football, the lacrosse world was shocked.

At Hofstra, Howdy became the father of modern Long Island lacrosse. In addition to being innovative and imaginative, he built up summer leagues. He persuaded Hofstra’s best athletes, including some of his own football players, to take up lacrosse. He introduced zone defense to the game because his defensemen were not ready to play man-to-man.

I went to Hempstead, N.Y., and visited Myers at Hofstra for the first day of lacrosse practice in 1956. Myers was issuing sticks. One rugged player said, “Hey, Coach, how do you throw the ball in this game — righty, like this, or lefty, like this?”

“Both,” Myers told him.

Thus was born an ambidextrous lacrosse player.

One great coach can, and will, change an area. Tierney owned the Ivy League to such a degree that the other schools were almost forced to upgrade. Hence, today Cornell - 10 seconds from winning this year's NCAA championship - is as good as anybody, anywhere. Brown is getting close and Harvard is coming. Tierney gave them no choice.

The 57-year old Tierney will bring Denver the best teams it has ever had.

Tierney will energize the West. He’ll make Denver’s opponents hustle. His famed Top 205 summer camp will flourish as never before west of the Mississippi. His presence in the area will speed up having an NCAA championship weekend at Denver’s Invesco Field at Mile High.

Like Howdy Myers, he will have changed the face of the game.


Read Bill Tanton's column on Bill Tierney's move west in its entirety in the July issue of Lacrosse Magazine, which includes LM's soup-to-nuts coverage of the college lacrosse championships. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 300,000 members today to start your subscription!

 


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