Charles Nailen/The Hoya Men’s Head Coach Dave Urick hopes to lead the Hoyas back to the NCAA tourney.

The man who leads the nationally ranked men’s lacrosse program almost never even came to Washington, D.C.

On several different occasions, Head Coach David Urick has been faced with decisions about his sport, his career and his life. But each scenario exemplifies the old adage of “being in the right place at the right time” – a phrase Urick himself uses in describing the events he has faced during his 33 years since graduating from Cortland State College.

A member of the Cortland State Class of 1970, Urick was in good company. “There were a lot of lacrosse coaches, particularly in Division I, who came out of that school at about the same time I did,” he recalls.

But his most important companion was his roommate Eddie Shriver, a Long Island native. Shriver had come to Cortland State to play lacrosse; Urick, on the other hand, had come to play football. When spring rolled around, though, Urick found himself looking for ways to occupy his time.

“They started throwing curve balls; my baseball career was over,” he says. “My roommate said try [lacrosse], and I picked it up and enjoyed it.”

After his fairly successful four-year campaign at Cortland State, he had established himself as a reputable lacrosse player. Immediately after graduating, he got a job at a small high school in Binghampton, N.Y. Yet, even before his first academic year was over, he had accepted a position as an assistant coach in both lacrosse and football at nearby Hobart College.

That was 1971. After nearly a decade, during which he held both the main coaching responsibilities for the football team and served as an assistant lacrosse coach, he was offered head coaching job for the Hobart lacrosse program following the departure of Johns Hopkins University graduate and All-American Jerry Schmidt. The team won the Division III championship twice under Schmidt, the only lacrosse player ever to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated for his achievements.

“He was the guy who I still feel has had the biggest influence on me as a coach,” Urick says.

Schmidt left the program in good hands with his former assistant at the helm. The demands of the program ultimately led Urick to surrender his job as head coach of the football team after a few seasons of double duty. But under Urick, the team didn’t skip a beat, winning the Division III championship during each of his 10 seasons as head coach.

“It was tremendous and it was just a matter their of not screwing it up – trying to keep pushing all the right buttons,” he says. “It wasn’t a real difficult decision to make [between football and lacrosse]. Football is a coach’s game. It’s very time-demanding. The weather gets worse as the season goes on.”

He seems to look back on that situation as being a fairly obvious one, given the tradition and success of Hobart lacrosse over the years. But Urick could not have foreseen the next phase of his life, which began with a simple phone call.

“[Former Athletics Director] Frank Rienzo asked me if I’d be interested in speaking to him about the opportunities at Georgetown,” Urick explains. “They had decided to take the program to another level. They were going to commit more to the program in terms of resources.”

At first, Urick was unsure whether or not he seriously wanted to leave the successful establishment at Hobart. “I had a very young, talented assistant coach who I thought would be the right guy. I thought I’d come down here and grease the skids for him,” he says, laughing. “But Mr. Rienzo made it perfectly clear to me that he wasn’t interested in my assistant. He was interested in me.”

Urick and Rienzo remained in contact while Urick studied the university and the plausibility of the opportunity. “I really knew very little about the school. I was a closet Syracuse fan. I didn’t research it quite as well as I could have or should have. I didn’t realize that they had never had a winning season in their history.”

But Rienzo was determined to get his man. And after nearly a month of deliberating with the help of his wife, Urick announced that he would indeed accept the offer.

Since his first season in 1990, the program under Urick has moved forward in leaps and bounds. Assistant coaches have been hired. The team has consistently been ranked as one of the top teams in the nation. Players have been named All-American selections and have played in the North-South All-Star Game. The Hoyas, as serious lacrosse contenders, have been added to the map.

“Those were all kind of milestones, measuring sticks that you could take as tangible proof that the program was moving forward,” Urick says. “But the one that the players and the coaches were most interested in was the opportunity to play for the National Championship.”

In its eighth season under Urick’s tutelage, the team finally broke through that barrier and earned the elusive chance to play on Memorial Day – the traditional date of the Division I lacrosse championship. Since that year, the team has made the tournament every season, getting as far as the semifinals in 1999.

“After that breakthrough, we started to become a tournament-caliber team on a regular basis,” Urick explains. “The goal here is to play on Monday [Memorial Day]. There’s a few other people scratching and fighting to do the same thing. Now, where we’re at, it gets a little tougher. To move up the ladder from here, you measure your success in smaller increments.”

With assistant coaches including his son Scott (COL ’00) and the former athletic director’s son Matt Rienzo, Urick acknowledges that the university has remained loyal to the lacrosse program.

“The university’s commitment to the program has been steadfast,” he insists. “Frank Rienzo and the administration here were very supportive when I arrived, and they have continued to be very supportive. That’s obviously a key element in the whole equation.”

But perhaps the most important element possessed by the people with whom he most often interacts is passion.

“What the assistant coaches bring to our program – as well as most of our senior leadership and many alumni – is a passion for the game, a passion for Georgetown. They are so loyal to this institution that they go above and beyond the call of duty.”

Urick himself neglects to realize that his own passion is unsurpassed.

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