Editor’s Note: Since publication of this article, Nick Hourigan joined the coaching staff of Ithaca College as Assistant Coach.
Nick Hourigan is currently the Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator for Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY; a competitive Division III institution that competes in the Liberty League. A native of Rexford, N.Y., Hourigan attended Shenendehowa High School where he was a three-year starter and two-year captain for the Plainsmen, earning First-Team All-Suburban Council, First-Team Troy Record and First-Team Saratogian honors in his senior season. He helped lead Shenendehowa to the NYS Class A Regionals in 2010 and the NYS Class A Final Four in 2011. He is a two-time NYSPHSAA Scholar-Athlete honoree, and a member of the 2010 Empire State Games Adirondack team, which was coached by current Skidmore Head Coach Tucker Kear. Hourigan went on to have a successful career at Le Moyne College where he was a four-year defenseman. During his time at Le Moyne, the Dolphins featured the top defense in the Northeast-10 all four years and held the lowest goals against average in Division II three of four years, posting the fifth-lowest goals against average in Division II history in 2012 (4.39). Hourigan, who was named team captain his senior year, helped the Dolphins to two Northeast-10 titles, four NCAA Division II tournament appearance, two national championship game appearances and the 2013 Division II NCAA National Title. He made 58 career appearances, collecting 110 ground balls, including a team-high 60 in 2015, and caused 44 turnovers.
Hourigan recently took the time to answer some questions for Capital District Lax.
Did you have the chance to see your alma mater, Shenendehowa High School win the 2016 Section 2 Boys’ Lacrosse Class A championship? How important will that win be to the Shen players and coaches going into the 2017 season and beyond?
NH: Unfortunately, I did not. I was in Philadelphia to root on Le Moyne in the D2 National Championship. However, I was glued to my phone and kept receiving updates on the game. It was a big weekend for both my alma maters! The importance of that win for the boys on the team, Coach Gifford, and the Shen community as a whole cannot be understated; it was awesome! But I know Coach Gifford and the returning players are not resting on their laurels. It’s a huge accomplishment anytime you beat a great team like Niskayuna, but I think Coach Gifford said it best… “you want to use past experiences to build on for the future.”
In addition to a great lacrosse career at Le Moyne, you also served on the school’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and participated in the Leadership Enhancement and Awareness Program. Tell us a little about those experiences and how they helped you grow as a student-athlete.
NH: I really enjoyed my time in those programs because it helped me interact with the athletic department more than most other student-athlete’s. I always knew I wanted to be a coach, so to get a first hand look at how a successful athletic department operates and makes decisions was invaluable for me. Additionally, I wanted to ensure the men’s lacrosse team had a positive voice in the department and on campus and these programs allowed that for me and my teammates.
You currently serve as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Skidmore. Tell us a little about those duties. How many recruiting showcases and tournaments did you attend this summer?
NH: Right now I am the only Assistant Coach on staff, and I am lucky enough to have a great boss in Head Coach Tucker Kear. He trusts me to make decisions, implement new strategies, and candidly offer my opinion. So I am involved in almost all aspects of the team and my duties are limitless, which is incredible for my growth as a coach. It’s hard to find a head coach that trusts a young coach as explicitly as Coach Kear does, so I am grateful and consider myself lucky to be working at such a great academic institution. In terms of recruiting this summer, I was at a tournament or showcase every weekend from the beginning of June to the end of July, with some during the week. And Coach Kear did the same. We traveled as far as San Diego and Denver to as close as Albany and Boston. We dedicated the summer to getting out to all the top tier events and finding the best kids who are willing to buy into what we are doing here in Saratoga so Skidmore Lacrosse can be a national force to reckon with for years to come. In addition to all that, Coach Kear and I also coach the ADK Black Bears summer travel team.
How has the growth of lacrosse around the country affected Division III programs such as Skidmore?
NH: The growth of the sport is incredible, and fun to be apart of. There are kids playing lacrosse at a high level all over the country, so you have to get out there to find the right kids for your program. No longer are hot bed areas such as NY and Maryland the only places putting kids into the college lacrosse ranks; it’s happening everywhere.
After playing at Le Moyne and now coaching at Skidmore, what similarities and differences have you observed between D II and D III lacrosse programs?
NH: The most similar aspect about DII and DIII programs that I’ve observed is the commitment to the whole student-athlete experience. You have time to take care of your academics and pursue other opportunities on campus to help you grow as a young man. The most successful DII and DIII lacrosse programs are the ones who have kids that want to be great at both academics and lacrosse. The great programs are the ones that have kids who are fully bought into both. The only difference I’ve really seen between the two divisions would be parity. There are so many good teams in Division III and every game can be a battle.
You recently played at the Lake Placid tournament. Who did you play with, and how did the tournament go for your team?
NH: Yes, I did, the Lake Placid tournament is one of the best weekends of the year and I plan on being there every year I can. This past tournament I played with 518 Alliance, a good group of local guys. We had more fun than wins, and sometimes that just how Lake Placid goes and it doesn’t change the experience one bit.
Tell us about the Excel Lacrosse training program that you recently launched. How does Excel Lacrosse differ from other programs in the area?
NH: The Excel Lacrosse training program has been years in the making and it’s finally catching traction. The owner of The Hockey Hut, Ron Kuhl, has been providing the best Hockey skills training in the area for close to two decades, and he’s always wanted to add a Lacrosse division to his business. So when Ron and Tyler Ballantyne (Director of Marketing and New Business) approached me about being the Director of Lacrosse and creating the program, I was ecstatic. Ron and Tyler have been a huge help in the process and Ron has already made a big investment into Excel Lacrosse to ensure its growth. We have an enclosed 90 x 90 ft. outdoor field equipped with lights right at The Hockey Hut location. In addition to our lacrosse facilities, The Hockey Hut has recently partnered with HealthPlex Fitness, local experts in Personal Training and Functional Movement. So we have all the resources available at our location to improve your skills in the sport of lacrosse and provide strength and mobility training.
At Excel Lacrosse, we offer programs for beginners or athletes striving to play at the highest level. With our 90x90ft. field we are able to improve the individual lacrosse skills of each athlete to make them more effective on the big field. Our goal is to create an environment that maximizes each athlete’s skill set through repetition in tight spaces, while instilling a love for the game of lacrosse and having a lot of fun in the process.
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