When it comes to accolades, SUNY Brockport men’s lacrosse head coach Ben Wineburg does not fall short.
As a player, Wineburg led his Nazareth College team to two undefeated regular seasons and two national championship appearances in a row. As the starting goalie, Wineburg was the backbone of the team, particularly as a senior when he led his team to the 1996 national title, earning First Team All-American, National Player of the Year, Goalie of the Year, and MVP of the championship game that season.
Just a few years later in 2000, Ben Wineburg became the head coach of the newly-revived SUNY Brockport men’s lacrosse team, restarting the sport at a varsity level for the first time in 21 years. Another 21 years later, Wineburg is still going strong.
His inspiration to coach grew from his desire to remain in the sporting environments he loved and to take after his former coaches, whom he truly looked up to, and it looks like he found the perfect niche. Wineburg has no complaints as to what he does today.
“Of course, the experience has its ups and downs. (There’s) lots of good days, lots of bad days. But it is very rewarding,” Wineburg said. “To me, it’s about building relationships with the guys. I try to make an effort to get to know them. It can be hard to watch them come and go over the course of four years, but to me, that is the fun part.”
Heading into his 22nd year as Brockport head coach, Wineburg has held on to a few memories that will be forever important to him. For a team like Brockport, SUNYAC conference play has always hosted the most important games of the season. That’s where he finds his favorite memories.
“My first big win in the conference was when we beat Oneonta at home in 2005,” Wineburg said, referring to his team’s 11-10 overtime victory. “Also, when Geneseo came in ranked No. 9 in the country (in 2010), we beat them.”
One of his most recent big wins came in 2018, when Wineburg led the Golden Eagles to a 10-8 victory over SUNY Cortland in conference play.
“Obviously beating Cortland a few years ago,” he said. “I don’t think they had lost a regular season SUNYAC game in 10 years. That was a great memory.”
It was a big win, because it was the first time Brockport beat Cortland in 16 years and snapped the Red Dragon’s 56-game win streak in regular season conference play, a record that dated all the way back to 2009.
On top of what his players do on the field, Wineburg takes a lot of pride in other aspects of their lives as well. He looks on them as family, which means he wants to see them succeed in everything they do.
“It’s not just about winning games,” Wineburg explained. “It’s about being successful both on and off the field. I want to lead them in a way to help them get their degree, to create balance with academics and athletics. I try to teach them that if you want something done right, you do it yourself. And to be a well-rounded person.”
Wineburg has found success in that as well, as his team has recently been crushing the classroom.
“Last year, we received an academic award for the team, and for the last four semesters, we’ve (collectively) held an average GPA of above a 3.0,” he said. “You have to give a lot of credit to the athletes.”
Wineburg’s love for the game and greater love for his players is what has driven his to keep going, even though all the ups and downs that come with restarting a dormant program, he said.
While his time as a player has long been over, Ben Wineburg still finds success, inspiration, good times, and gratitude as a head coach. That’s what makes his job so special.