With 14 years experience, four national titles, six conference titles and over 200 wins in his career at CSU, Flip Naumberg left pretty big shoes to fill when he decided to step down as the head men’s lacrosse coach. Luckily for the green and gold, new head coach Andy Smith is up for the challenge.
Smith, who has been a part of CSU lacrosse for over a decade, was named the team’s new head coach less than two weeks ago and already has big plans for the upcoming year.
The former Rams assistant coach expected Naumberg to step down eventually, but explained he was still surprised when it happened.
“It was still a shock when he made the announcement,” Smith said. “I’ve been here 11 years, he’s been there all of them. It’s just a big change.”
Smith confirmed he and Naumberg had talked about the possibility of a coaching change in the past and that he had even become comfortable with the idea during the 2009 spring season.
Naumberg, who admitted stepping down as head coach was a difficult decision, said he just thought it was right for Smith to take over the program.
“I thought it was (Smith’s) time,” he said. “I just wanted to step back a little bit but I’m still struggling with it because I love to coach. It’s very hard. I love the university and being around the players.”
Naumberg explained that he had been grooming Smith, especially during the past season, to take over the program, giving him more direct responsibility for the team. He added that Smith is more than ready to run the program. “(Smith) is really involved and connected to the sport,” Naumberg said. “We have a lot of new kids coming in that are pretty good, so he should be able to pick it up really quick. I think his confidence grew in 2009.”
Andrew Stein, who is expected to be a leader of the fall men’s lacrosse team, agreed with Naumberg and said Smith has had his hands on the reigns for a while.
“(Smith) knows the team’s philosophy and is good at running practices while motivating the team, which are all things it takes to be a good coach,” Stein said. “He will fit in nicely.”
Even though Naumberg’s style of coaching the Rams has yielded proven results, Smith said he will likely bring about some minor changes once the new season begins in early September. Smith explained a lot of new techniques were going to happen regardless of Naumberg’s decision.
“We are going to be making some changes in the program, but a lot of that was going to be happening whether he or I was the coach,” he said. “We are going to evaluate players differently, but, for the most part, everything will remain the same.”
In his first official season as head coach, Smith wants to keep the same level of success that CSU has enjoyed in the past, but is also going to focus on getting players into the right mind set for long term goals.
“The most important thing is getting kids to buy into the family mantra of the team,” he said. “We really believe we are a family and are going to get better as a group. We have a lot of talent and getting the kids to buy into that will help us on the field and off the field.”
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.