When the PLL hired Ben Rubeor, he was expected to be one of the coaches who would help expand the league’s success.
“Ben was the standout choice to lead this talented Atlas LC into the new season and shape its identity for the long run,” Head of the PLL Lacrosse Advisory Board Seth Tierney said in December 2019. “His relentless energy couples with an infectious desire to improve his players will prove to be an invaluable asset to both the league and his team. We couldn’t be more delighted to welcome Ben to the PLL family.”
He may have gotten off to a slow start, but Ben Rubeor is showcasing his value to the PLL and Atlas now, and that’s why he’s is my choice for PLL Coach of the Year.
Rubeor’s Coach of the Year campaign started in the offseason. When he took over in 2020, there was hope that he would produce better results with the same star-studded Atlas team. After a disappointing bubble season, major changes were on the horizon for Atlas, and it was time for Rubeor to mold the team into what he wanted.
With coaches acting as GMs, the season really starts once the new league year begins. Ben Rubeor made his first move when he traded Rob Pannell to the Redwoods for the No. 3 overall pick in the PLL Entry Draft. He continued to change the roster, releasing four players and trading Paul Rabil, Connor Buczek, and Ryan Brown for a boatload of draft picks. It was clear the full-blown rebuild was underway, and with the 2021 college draft being loaded with talent, Rubeor wanted to grab as much of it as he could.
In the draft, Rubeor selected Jeff Teat, Jake Carraway, Dox Aitken, and surprised everyone by taking Danny Logan over Ryan Terefenko. Most expected these top four guys to carry Atlas for many years to come, I just don’t think we expected it to happen so quickly. He also found key pieces in the Entry Draft with Daniel Bucaro and Michael Rexrode, who have made big contributions as well.
The Atlas have been one of the most dominant teams this season. They’ve won four of their games by three goals or more, and their only down-to-the-wire contests have come against Cannons LC, and they found a way to hold on to victory in both of them. Atlas is the league’s highest-scoring side and has the second-best scoring differential. It began the season as a team that was a few years away from contention to a squad that forced its contention window open with authority.
Ben Rubeor has also rebuilt the locker room and created an atmosphere that the players truly want to be a part of. Trevor Baptiste had a big smile on his face as he talked about the locker room after a 16-10 victory over Chrome in Long Island on July 4.
“It’s been really special to be with this group and to see how we have all come together and put a lot of emphasis on working hard and doing it for each other,” Baptiste said. “It’s something that we like to say is ‘family style.'”
Romar Dennis shared a similar sentiment after Atlas defeated Chaos, 16-10, on July 10 in Minneapolis.
“The end of the day, everyone is really selfless,” Dennis explained. “No one is fake cheering for each other. Everyone is cheering when we score.”
It seems like the guys in that locker room love playing for each other, which might have been something that lacked in previous Atlas teams. Coaching plays a huge role in team chemistry and the “playing for the guy next to you” mentality.
All of this has led to the Atlas going from worst to first and not only being a contender this year, but looking like contenders for years to come. All of this is why I believe Ben Rubeor is the Coach of the Year in the PLL.