Coach's Corner: Joe Spallina
Garden City, NY (Oct. 28, 2015) - Ever since he can remember sports has been a huge part of Joe Spallina's life. Joe, a Long Island native, was born to a family of huge New York Islanders fans. In fact, Joe's brother and New York Lizard Brian was named after New York Islander great Bryan Trottier. So it comes as no surprise that Joe and Brian grew up playing and loving the sport of hockey. But once Joe was introduced to lacrosse in the 7th grade he found his true calling. It was immediately obvious that Joe had a real talent for the sport and loved playing it.
"I fell in love with lacrosse because it was a crossover of so many other sports I had played," he says.
As Joe grew older, it was becoming evident that he had a chance to play lacrosse in college. When it came time to choose what school he would attend, he selected nearby Adelphi University. Joe had always loved Long Island and wanted to play lacrosse close to home. At Adelphi, he was a standout athlete. He started all four years at midfield and was a part of two Division II National Title teams. He also received a bachelor's degree in physical education.
After college it became clear that Joe's playing days were over. He immediately set his sights on working in sports and becoming a coach. He started out his coaching career as a high school physical education teacher and coach at Rocky Point High School. As Rocky Point's women's lacrosse head coach, Joe led the team to five Suffolk County finals, including three consecutive championships. Over his time at Rocky Point, Joe's team had a record of 87-9. After Rocky Point, Joe moved onto coach women's lacrosse at his college alma mater, Adelphi. At Adelphi, he was a huge success. He led his team to three straight Division II titles from 2009-2011. He also won National Coach of the Year for all three of those seasons. In total he won five titles as a player and coach at Adelphi.
After Adelphi Joe looked for a bigger challenge and took over the women's lacrosse coaching job at Stony Brook University. The Sea Wolves had a struggling lacrosse program and had not had much success been, but Joe turned them into a winner. The team experienced the nation's best turnaround in 2012 and Joe became the winningest coach at Stony Brook after just three seasons with a 48-12 record. He continues to coach at Stony Brook today.
While coaching at Stony Brook, Joe was named the Lizard's head coach in June of 2011, previously having served as assistant coach for two seasons. Like he had always done, Joe turned his team into a winner. The Lizards who had an awful 2011, finished 2012 with an 8-6 record. This earned him 2012 Brine Coach of the Year. Unfortunately, the Lizards struggled in 2013 going 4-10, but with Joe you knew the losing wasn't going to last long. He immediately got the program back on track and led the Lizards to a playoff appearance in 2014. This set up a magical 2015 season for the Lizards.
In 2015 the Lizards would go onto to have one of the best seasons in MLL history. The team would finish the regular season at 10-4, which was earned them first place in the MLL standings. They then defeated the Boston Cannons and Rochester Rattlers to win the 2015 MLL Title.
"What stood out most is the competition amongst the guys and their common goal of winning. They were the best team from day one until the last day of the season," says Joe. "We had a number of players step up and elevate their game. No one specific player stood out. It was a collective effort in which they checked their egos at the door and focused on winning as a team."
In addition to being a great coach on the college and professional levels, Joe finds it very important to grow the sport of lacrosse. For this reason, he coaches youth teams like the 2025 travel boys lacrosse teams for Team 91. All four of his children play for this team including his daughter. He also is very excited about the expansion of the MLL league.
On the new Atlanta franchise Joe says, "Championship weekend was a huge success down in Atlanta and it will be interesting to watch the growth of this sport in a non-traditional area. Expansion is great for the league, with so many great players the added teams create added opportunities."
Joe also adds that the expansion draft is going to disrupt MLL rosters but it will all be worth it.
Heading into the 2016 New York Lizard's season Joe realizes how important coaching a professional team in his hometown is.
"Coaching a professional team is a complete honor. Being able to represent New York on the highest level is something I'm very proud of," he says.
In addition, Coach Spallina urges the importance of the Lizards in Long Island: "With the Islanders moving off the Island, the Lizards are one of the only professional teams left and the lax families have a great team right in their backyards to support.We had a complete roster in 2015. In my role as the GM, I will strive to keep the roster as a balanced team moving forward into the 2016 season."
Joe wants to keep up the Lizards winning ways and continue to bring joy to the fans with one priority in mind: defend the Lizards' MLL title in 2016.
Season tickets for 2016 are on sale now. For more information, please visit NYLizards.com/Season-Tickets or call 1-855-NYLizards.
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Major League Lacrosse Stories from October 28, 2015
- 1st Annual Cannons Charity Golf Classic Huge Success - Boston Cannons
- Coach's Corner: Joe Spallina - New York Lizards
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