FLG Coaches Feature: Shawn Hennessey on the Best Parts of Playing Lacrosse

FLG’s Boys 2023 Coach Shawn Hennessey highlights the importance of teamwork on his sidelines. Doubling as the Shaker High School coach and a father, Shawn still finds time to coach FLG’s boys, which he says provides development and opportunities for all. He also explains how lacrosse and other sports provided opportunities that academics and personal life couldn’t.

Q: What is your favorite part about coaching the next generation of lacrosse?

A: The speed and evolution of the game.  The player’s skill set and the equipment advances make the game faster and more exciting.  

Q: What inspired you to begin coaching and stay a part of the lacrosse community post-college? 

A: Sports and lacrosse allowed me to go to places I did not have opportunities to go, academically, personally and athletically.  Without playing a void became evident.  It wasn’t until I started coaching that everything seemed to fall into place. The goals and accomplishments over the years have changed from coaching the players to coaching the community, to coaching to give back the knowledge, experiences and love of the game.  

Q: During your college lacrosse career, what was the most valuable lesson you learned about the sport of lacrosse?

A: Hard work, sacrifice, problem solving, and being part of something bigger than yourself.   

Q: What do you think is the most important skill to have when coaching both sides of the ball?

A: Prediction, understanding, and educating.  Being able to predict a series of events on either side allows efficiency in coaching.  Understanding that things will not always go as planned and are out of you and a player’s control.  Educating myself other coaches and players react to the situation presented rather than the situation desired.  

Q: When you’re not playing or coaching on the field, what’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?

A: Watching each of my children either play, do an activity they enjoy or just spending quality time with family. 

Q: Are there any particular coaches, former teammates or professional players you keep in mind when coming up with drills or plays?

A: I owe a lot to many of the prior coaches that I have played for and a number of coaches that I have worked with.  I have said on a number of occasions to young players, families, and alumni that Pat Gunner is the main reason I am the person, I am today inside and outside of lacrosse.  Coaches like Jerome Harvey, Jeff Holmes, Tad Knight, Chad Fink, help steer and mold me through High school.  Paul Wehrum provided me with motivation and guidance to compete at the highest level.  Sandy Kapatos extended my knowledge of the games and challenged me to think about and coach offense/defense. Roger Manion who gave me my first coaching job.  

Additionally Joe Pollicino was a major influence when I started Varsity coaching at Shaker.  I like to think that every coach needs 10 things to make a team great.  I believe that I could accomplish 5.  Joe Pollicino was responsible for the other 5 and taught me how to accomplish or come closer to being a great coach. 

I like to believe that I try to think about all players that I played with, that played for me, and will eventually play for me when creating drills.  My varsity drilling comes from being well studied and looking at the college and professional game.  My youth development comes from trial and error mainly based on how my own children react in difficult and easy drills. 

I think that players train coaches as much as coaches train players. 

Q: When pressure’s on, what does your go-to pep-talk sound like?

A: Toughness, Trust and Team.  It starts with a …. “This is what we wanted….”  and ends with a will….. then let the players loose and trust in them.  

Q: How does coaching the 2023 FLG boys team differ from coaching the Shaker HS team?

A:  I look at FLG as development and exposure and opportunities for all. Club teams and summer ball should be used to develop. Players will have more than enough opportunities to showcase their efficient skills during play.  It’s my job to get them out of their comfort zone, push them to perform skills that they are not proficient at and play hard all of the time.  

During Shaker it is more about the vision and team accomplishments.  It’s taking a mix of talents and molding it together to work as one.  It identifies strengths and weaknesses of each player and assists in overcoming obstacles through peer and coaching support. Building confidence and motivating to be great.  Skills are skills and drills are drills.  Good coaches can teach them and have hundreds of them.  Having the players buy in and take control is what Differs for me at Shaker.  

Q: How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted your previous season? How has this changed your outlook on seasons to come?

A: We did not have a season.  We practiced everyday virtually until the official cancelation.  It was our goal as a team to learn to train and practice skills for yourself rather than rely on a coach or trainer to push you.  It refreshes the importance of the need for sports not only for players but for coaches and families.  Not only for exercise but for mental health. 

Q: Lastly, what do you look forward to most about the upcoming season?

A: The joy and excitement of day 1.  The ability to be around all of the players.  Communicating what every coach preaches everyday. “do not take anything for granted because you might not be able to play tomorrow” and see if we can push harder, accomplish more, enjoy more and walk away with no regrets.  


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