The latest installment of the Fireside Chat series brings Brooks Singer, Head Coach of the Catholic University of America Cardinals, to The Villa for a chat about what it’s like to be a grown up in the lacrosse world.
There are two reasons Brooks is not your ordinary lacrosse coach. First, on top of running the Cardinal program, he has a day job as Senior Investigator for the U.S. Department of Justice, a demanding job in and of itself. Second, he played his college ball for the Laxcats out at the University of Arizona for our favorite cowboy boot wearin’ Coach Mickey Miles Felton (seen here rocking a sweet ride and his favorite kicks). So saddle up and see how one of the busiest guys in the game became one of the first club players to man the helm of an NCAA squad.
LAS: Your biography says that not only are you the head coach, but you also work in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Can you give us a peek into one of your days during the spring season? How do you manage to juggle both your job at the DOJ and being a head lacrosse coach?
Singer: Hectic would be one word to describe it, however some would call it managed chaos. A day consists of handling the daily tasks required for my duties at the Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as those required for overseeing Catholic University’s (CUA) Men’s Lacrosse program. After a day at the office at DOJ, I head over to CUA for practice. We never practice before 6pm on weekdays since we have such a wide array of majors represented on the team, and we need to do this in order to avoid any academic conflicts. My assistant coaches, who I rely on greatly and who are a tremendous asset to our program, also have day jobs, so it works out well for everyone involved with the program. There are some days when I do not have a minute to spare, and being able to take a few minutes for lunch often becomes a luxury. Managing my time, being task-oriented, working to complete projects to achieve goals, and prioritizing, all things that we as coaches preach to our players, are how I handle the many responsibilities I have in both of my roles at DOJ and CUA.
It’s a dream of many lacrosse players to have an awesome job and still have a substantial amount of involvement in the sport. How did your pursuit of both come about?
The priority for me was to obtain a higher education, attending law school and receiving a Masters degree, in order to establish a career to support myself. At the same time, I worked to establish a balance in life to be able to spend time with family and friends, work on hobbies, and enjoy things that I am passionate about like the sport of lacrosse. I started out playing and coaching lacrosse after college, but realized after some time that I truly enjoyed everything involved with coaching the game and managing a program.
Are there any skills you’ve carried over from your playing days that you’ve incorporated into your professional career?
In every line of work these days, you hear the importance of being a part of a team, and all that goes with that in terms of being a productive and positive member of the team, and working towards achieving the goals set for the team. I believe that those who have participated in team sports, especially the high intensity sports such as lacrosse, have a true leg up on everyone who has not. It is easy for people in the workplace to talk about being a part of a team, but I know that those who have participated in sports truly appreciate everything that goes into that such as working towards a common goal, being unselfish, supporting one another, and staying positive. Those are qualities I have sought to carried into my professional career, and I work at continuing to do so every day.
You played your college ball at Arizona for legendary coach Mickey Miles Felton. How hard was it for a guy with an MCLA (formerly USLIA) pedigree to break into the NCAA coaching ranks? Also, what was the craziest outfit you ever saw Mickey wear on the sidelines?
The MCLA, and formerly USILA, indeed play lacrosse at a very high level. Many of my teammates were transfers from top NCAA schools, and we had lots of success against NCAA programs when we would play against them.
Our rival at the time was DIII Whittier College who was always ranked in the top 20, and one of my greatest memories was when we beat Whittier to end their record-setting winning streak at the time. Regardless of the school someone attends or the league they are in, we are all playing the greatest sport in the world at an extremely high level of play. I had been coaching CUA’s club team before the decision was made to elevate men’s and women’s lacrosse to varsity status. I was offered the position, and we are now going on our 10th year as a varsity program. Watching our program grow has been the best part. Seeing our players graduate and enjoy a successful life after college is the most rewarding. Playing for Arizona under Mickey-Miles Felton taught me about being passionate for the game of lacrosse. I value the lessons I have learned from him to this day. I would say everyone enjoyed his custom multi-colored sneaker-boots.
What kind of stick are you currently using? Have you had a chance to see or talk to your players about how the new stick regulations are affecting their game?
I have been using an Evo Pro. We have worked this fall to ensure that all of our players are using a compliant stick head according to NCAA rules. I have spoken to players, coaches, referees, and others about the new stick head rules and new dimensions. The consensus appears to be that there is not much affect on the game. My biggest concern has been that we should be working to make the sport of lacrosse as inclusive a possible and given the state of the economy, to place another financial burden on schools or players is difficult to do. I am also content with how the game is being played today, so I am an advocate for the least amount of rules changes possible.
The move to the Landmark Conference was a big one. Are you excited or bummed to have SU/Stevenson off the schedule? Do you think the Landmark can be nationally competitive in the short term? Long term? Will the AQ help your recruiting efforts?
We are excited about the newly formed Landmark Conference. We will miss playing teams from the Capital Athletic Conference, but are excited about the new teams we have picked up in the Landmark. Having the Automatic Qualifier is a wonderful opportunity and will definitely help to establish the Landmark as one of the top conferences in Division III. We were a couple of overtime loses away from being at the top of the Landmark this past season, so we are extremely excited about the upcoming season!
What are the team goals for 2010? Any personal goals?
Our team goal is to win the Landmark Conference Championship and move on the NCAA tournament this upcoming season! My personal goals are to produce a championship team, while never compromising our academic standards, our team-first philosophy, and our emphasis on class and sportsmanship. These are the things that will help to build our players into better people once they graduate.
What are your five favorite songs right now?
That is a funny question, guess I will go with some old and new school:
What’s your favorite movie for those long bus rides to away games?
Cast Away. Puts the guys to sleep like clockwork.
Thanks to Coach Singer for taking the time to talk to us and good luck to CUA in the spring!
This has been another Lax All Stars Fireside Chat. Stay tuned to the LAS Network for more interviews.
The Fireside Chat series gives players and fans an opportunity to get to know influential people and players from around the United States. From coast to coast, LAS is interviewing players to get you an insider’s perspective on the upcoming 2010 season.
About the Author: After playing high school ball at Idaho powerhouse Bishop Kelly, Jumbo Jack went on to play at the University of Utah where he received All-Conference honors in 2005. From Utah he moved to Mt. St. Mary’s Univ. in Maryland, where he became the first Idahoan to be on a D1 lacrosse team roster. Following a knee injury, he coached and played for the U. of Idaho, where he lead the team to their first wins and again earned All-Conference. He is currently attending law school.