Coach Mike Vorgang is in his 23rd season as the head lacrosse Coach for the boys’ varsity lacrosse team at Niskayuna High School. Mike has the most coaching wins in Section 2 history and is top 10 among active coaches in New York State and top 25 among active coaches in the nation. He is a 12 -time Section II champion, and two-time NY State Finalist and his 2015 team won the New York State High School Class A Championship. He has coached 40 high school All-Americans, thirteen Under Armour All Americans, and over 100 high school All-League players. Mike has received Coach of the Year honors 20 times. He was inducted into the Adirondack Lacrosse Hall of Fame in the Class of 2009 and is a member of the inaugural class of 2004 Athletic Hall of Fame at LaSalle Institute where he attended High School. For 12 years, Mike served as the Suburban Council Coordinator for Section II lacrosse coaches and has been a presenter on the regional level at multiple conventions. In addition, Mike started the Niskayuna Youth Lacrosse Club which services more than 150 boys and girls in the Niskayuna community. Mike is also the co-founder of the Albany Power Lacrosse Club one of the premier boys’ lacrosse clubs in the state.
Coach Vorgang recently took the time to answer some questions for Capital District Lax.
How important was developing the culture of Niskayuna Lacrosse to the program’s success, particularly in winning your first state championship?
MV: I believe that developing a culture is one of the most important factors to success. Everyone involved must buy in to what the program is selling. That includes coaches at all levels, players, parents and alumni. Developing a culture is on the same plane as developing skills and game IQ. Without it, your program will never reach its potential.
There are three stages of shaping a culture in a program.
1.) Outlining clear expectations of behavior
2.) Protecting the acceptance of that culture.
3.) Protecting the new culture from eroding over time.
All three need to be considered when taking over a program or attempting to change culture in an existing one. Culture shaping is the fastest way to improve your program on all fronts.
MV: Interestingly, we did not do anything differently in 2015. Our kids worked hard, they bought in, and we had a lot of luck along the way. We will continue to work on our skills, understanding of concepts and how we want to attack our opponent. All we can do is work extremely hard as a coaching staff to prepare our team the best we can, and in turn, our team must be willing to sacrifice for the good of the order. Nothing will change with regards to how we approach the game or this season in particular. We may look different or do some things differently offensively or defensively. But, the objective is still the same.
There is an extremely high level of commitment by our coaching staff. We play pick up box lacrosse two days each week all fall. Varsity coach PJ Williams heads our strength training program. He works with our kids from August through the end of February four days per week. Working on their strength and fitness levels. Coach Delano continues to work on our defensive game plan and concepts, considering we have to replace three starting close defenseman and a goalie. Also, Coach DeLano has taken on the role of our director of operations dealing with all logistical events that may arise. Our modified coach, Frank Adamo, works with his modified players during the fall at the box and during the winter, providing a study hall, fitness program, and a skills session or game play each week. Everyone here does their part and puts a ton of time into this program. We would not be even close to as successful without the effort put in by our staff. There are no egos and that’s what makes it work.
In addition to your role as Niskayuna’s Head Coach, you are one of the Directors and Coaches of the Albany Power. How is the experience of your work with the Power different than your work at Niskayuna (including working with players from other schools/programs)?
MV: Oh, it’s much different. There are very few similarities. Power is a vehicle for players to get better and to be coached by the best high school coaches in the area. There is no doubt we have assembled the best coaches this area has to offer for our club. No one knows better how to coach 11-18 year old lacrosse players than the people that do it on a weekly basis. Much of our coaching staff are certified teachers and coaches, and many have been coaching for over twenty years.
The goal of Albany Power is to get kids better at the game. We are a skill and concept based program. Everyone practices together and gets coached by every coach on the staff. We designed our program this way on purpose. We feel this is the best way for our players to improve, and our goal, above all else, is to help players in Section II grow into skilled, smart, hard working lacrosse players
Honestly, it’s an honor for me to be able to work with so many fine young men and their families. To see how hard some of them work amazes me. I enjoy watching the best players in Section II on the same field for the same team. It just shows how far we have come since 1980.
If you were asked to start a lacrosse program in a community that had never heard of the game before, what would your top three priorities be? MV:
- Create a culture.
- Find quality, hard working, and loyal coaching staff.
- Be there…
As a Coach and parent, what are your thoughts on young athletes playing multiple sports vs. specializing in a single sport?
MV: That’s simple. Kids should play multiple sports. You only get one chance at high school and to play the sports that you love. In the end, find what you are passionate about and do it. You’re only young once. If you love to play basketball you should play it.
What are your thoughts on the IMLCA’s proposal to prohibit college coaches from having contact with high school players prior to September 1st of a player’s Junior year?
MV: Unless the NCAA decides to change their policy on early recruiting, I don’t believe it will change. The nature of the recruiting process, at this point, is too competitive to change without regulation by a ruling body.
MV: It’s a great event. We have about 60 club and high school teams in attendance. The RPI facility is second to none with three turf fields. It’s fun to see 2,000 plus lacrosse enthusiasts in the same place at the same time in the Capital Region. If nothing else, come down and check it out on July 23rd and 24th. It is high quality lacrosse, and a well-run tournament by a staff truly invested in Section II lacrosse.
You are also one of the Directors of the Hamilton College Lacrosse Camp. Tell us about that camp.
MV: Hamilton Lacrosse Camp is a great opportunity for younger players to get on a college campus and see what it’s like to be on their own for a few days. Players will stay in the dorms and eat at the dining halls. It’s a great experience if a parent feels like they want to give their son some independence and meet new people from all over the state. They will learn and play a lot of lacrosse, also. We have three two hour sessions per day and it’s one of the most affordable overnight camps in the country. We serve boys ages 8-16, focusing on skill development, position specific learning and team concepts. We have a great staff, and it’s a lot of fun to be a part of a great learning environment on such a beautiful campus.
For more information visit:
Photo of Coach Vorgang from Daily Gazette
Team Photo from NYS Senate