Spent a good chunk of yesterday in Charlottesville, which is never, ever a bad thing.
(It also took more than four hours to get there, including trudge of a shade over two hours to travel from D1scourse headquarters in Glen Burnie to the other side of the American Legion Bridge. How do people deal with that awful traffic every day?)
Anyway, one of my stops while at Virginia was to Dom Starsia‘s office, and the Cavaliers’ lacrosse coach was his usual insightful self.
He also confirmed a bit of news floating about: Assuming some standard paperwork is completed later this week, former Army attackman John Walker will be named Virginia’s second assistant coach.
Walker replaces Hannon Wright, who left to become a Marine Corps JAG lawyer.
“In a field that included over 40 applicants, five or six of my own guys, my son and a guy I didn’t know at all, we hired the guy I didn’t know,” Starsia said. “He had to emerge pretty dramatically from that pool. Every time we met him, we just were more and more impressed with him.”
Walker was arguably the biggest star Army produced in the last quarter-century. He ranks second on the school’s career list in points (209), third in assists (84) and fourth in goals (125), and helped the Black Knights reach the NCAA tournament in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
He was also a first-team All-American in ‘05, the first Army player to earn that honor since 1984. But he underwent back surgery before his senior season, and Starsia said Walker’s back got worse in the years since the surgery —- hence why Walker is available before the standard five-year service commitment is completed.
If all goes according to plan, Walker will be honorably discharged on July 8 and will start at Virginia the next day.
“I’d have him here today if I could get him here,” Starsia said. “June is our busiest month in a lot of ways. People always ask if we get to take some time off, and the answer is ‘Absolutely not.’”
There was some thought Virginia might target a defense-oriented assistant because of its occasional discombobulation at that end —- notably in a semifinal loss to Cornell —- but instead Starsia opted for a bigger-picture choice.
“The specific playing expertise was not of great significance to me,” Starsia said. “In this case, for him to have played at such a high level on the attack and chances are, six of our first seven attackmen next spring are going to be freshmen and sophomores. That was a part of it. That’s such a short-term fix that other things have to drive it, but it certainly was a little piece of this. There’s a lot of different ways that I think this guy will be a very positive influence on the kids.”
—- Patrick Stevens