Although this is Patrick Hovey’s fifth year of involvement with Ithaca High’s lacrosse team, my first real interaction with him took place when we connected for this article.
After playing lacrosse at Auburn High School and Fairfield University (in Connecticut), Patrick was an assistant coach for a year in Newark, New York. He then spent three years as Frank Welch’s assistant at Ithaca High and took over as the top dog when Welch retired after a long and very successful coaching career. When I asked him if he felt pretty well settled in as the program’s head coach, Hovey replied, “Yeah… I have seen an entire class go through the program. I know these guys well.”
When Patrick started telling me about the youth clinics he is involved with, I thought, Man, this guy really loves coaching kids. Then, when he got on a roll talking about what efforts he is putting forth to build the Little Red, I thought, Man, this guy really loves coaching high school lacrosse. As our interview drew to a close, I realized, Man, this guy just loves lacrosse.
Let’s start with the seeds being planted… The Ithaca Lacrosse Club is a non-profit organization that works with players from kindergarten through 12th grade – mostly boys – and the organizers have been working hard to create as many opportunities as possible. Hovey said, “The sooner you get a stick in their hands, the more they’ll enjoy it.” He went on to say, “We were fortunate to get two grants from U.S. Lacrosse, a monetary grant and an equipment and clinic grant.” He added, “We worked hard to get the grants as a part of our goal to reduce financial barriers” (for kids wanting to learn the game).
When asked how expensive it is to get geared up for lacrosse, the coach answered, “Well, a good helmet can run $200, gloves are $75 and up and the sticks used by most high school players are at least $100. I don’t want any kid not to play because it’s not affordable.”
Hovey has done his homework regarding the psyches of youngsters, and he said, “Any player that registers for the upcoming clinic (more on that later) will get a free stick and a shirt.” He plans to use some of his funding to outfit players equally so that, in his words, “All kids fit in on Day 1. No odd men out, so to speak.”
About that upcoming event… In Coach Hovey’s words, “The club has partnered with GIAC, and we have been holding weekly clinics at BJM Elementary. Our culminating event will be held on March 24, and U.S. Lacrosse will be sending clinicians to offer a two-hour clinic.”
I shifted our conversation toward the Little Red varsity team, and I asked Hovey if he always had the “recruiting pipeline” in mind when working with the young players. “I am the varsity coach, and I do have a long game,” he offered. “I do want to build on a tradition of great coaches. I am always actively promoting and recruiting.”
As for the 2020 version of Ithaca High lacrosse, the coach said, “We have a relatively small senior class, but we’ll get good leadership from Payton Waight – who is a 3-year starter – and from our goalie, Tristen Hyde.” He added, “We have a good balance of fifteen or sixteen returning players, and we have several juniors who made significant contributions as sophomores. That will help us a lot.”
The Little Red open up on March 30 against Binghamton, and then play Auburn the next day. I asked Patrick if those Auburn games held any extra significance, and he stated, “Of course, I always want to beat any team we play, but I’ll be honest, winning against Auburn is extra special. Their program is much like ours – great players, great families and most of the coaching staff coached me.”
For more information on the upcoming clinic, which will be held at Esty Street Field from 4-6 p.m. on March 24, go to www.ithacalacrosseclub.org. Pre-registration is required.
Two Ithaca College basketball teams in the Liberty League finals, two thrilling games, two conference championships!
For the Bomber men, the excitement came to a peak at the end of regulation, as Ithaca and R.P.I. were tied at 66. The drama didn’t last long, as the Bombers poured it on, outscoring the Engineers 14-3 in OT to win their 13th consecutive game.
The women were also tied near the end of regulation, but Juliana Gamboa found Grace Cannon, who hit a corner jumper with three seconds left to seal the win over Vassar. With the victories, both teams earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.