HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Hastings High School has a growing lacrosse program thanks to its coach Drew Wendol, who not only coaches the game but is still playing in adult leagues and teaching the game with Gargoyle Athletics, a sports training group that offers instruction and clinics and fields travel teams year round.
Wendol’s greatest individual accomplishment as an adult lacrosse player came when he was invited as one of 120 players to try out for the 2006 Men’s U.S. Lacrosse Team and again for the 2007 Men’s U.S. Lacrosse Indoor team. Although he did not make the 23-man roster, he considered it an honor to play with the top players in the world.
Wendol answers Five Questions about his coaching and teaching careers and longtime devotion to lacrosse.
What are your lacrosse roots?
I started out as a sixth grader in Long Island. I played midfield and long stick midfield for one of the top programs in Long Island, Comsewogue High School (graduated in 1990). We would win the league every year, but then fall to the state championship team, Ward Melville. My last high school game, I scored three of our four goals in the championship game loss against Ward Melville.
I attended Cortland State as a midfielder but I decided I wanted to become a crease attackman. My coach (only lasted my freshman year) said I would never play attack as long as he was coach. I told him I would become a great attackman some day and a top scorer. Luckily, for me and the team, he lost his job and I had the chance to earn the starting spot my sophomore year. I started halfway through the year (promising to score at least three goals a game). When I got in, I followed my word and scored three-plus a game to earn that starting spot. I ended up graduating in 1994 ranked fourth on the school’s scoring list and 13th on the career point-scoring chart.
Where and why do play adult league lacrosse?
I currently play for multiple adult men’s’ teams in both the open (18+ year old) and Masters (30+ year old) leagues (Sound Shore Open and Masters Teams, Hudson Valley Adult Masters League, and ALL Masters League, and tournaments (Vail, Las Vegas, Lake Placid, plus others in Long Island, Rhode Island , and Locally). I play for my Gargoyle Athletics Adult Team, SoWest, Hound Dawgs, Colorado Team (for Vail and Vegas), as well as a variety of other teams for the other tournaments. I am pretty much a lacrosse junkie. My ultimate goal now is that I would love to play with my four-year-old some day.
What led you to the coaching and teaching professions?
Through my years of experience of playing and schooling, I watched and experienced how a coach or teacher can make and break a player or student. I witnessed how some students were given opportunities by their coaches and teachers and how some weren’t. I didn’t have the best experiences so I decided that I would like to become a teacher and coach and try to help provide a great experience for all of my students and players. I learned a while ago that all decisions made can affect your student/athletes. I wish I could say I made all the right decisions for the best of my student/athletes but that cannot be the case. The best part of being an educator is we always have the opportunity to do what we can to help the student/athletes grow as people.
What skills are most important in developing as a lacrosse player?
Some of the most important skills needed to develop into a top lacrosse player, or any sport for that matter, are hard work and heart on and off the field. Not everyone is a top athlete; however, if you work hard to practice your skills and you give 100 percent all of the time and never give up, then you can develop into a solid player. At the very least, a player that every coach would want to have on the team.
Who were your mentors?
My mentor as a teacher and person was my fifth grade teacher Ms. Scott, who taught me to be myself and that I was a good person. As an athlete, I have this picture of a U.S. Lacrosse player throwing against a wall and it says “working the left.” However, I have to say my main motivation was and is my mom. She loves sports (watches religiously). I wanted to make her happy by having her come watch me play. I wanted to be good so she would be proud in the stands of her son. She still comes see me play when she can.
For more information on Wendol’s clinics, travel teams and camps, log on at www.gargoyleathletics.net.