MaxLaxOC recently had a chance to sit down with San Clemente High School lacrosse head coach Mike Hutnick. Mike is a disciplined leader and is involved with a number of ventures both in and outside of lacrosse.
Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I was born in Methuen, Mass., and was raised in Derry, N.H.
Q. Did you play lacrosse as a kid? Where?
A. I started playing sports at a very young age, lacrosse started in the 2nd grade. I mowed a couple extra lawns, sold bulk candy on the playground, and saved for a lacrosse stick. A few friends played and brought me into the sport. It clicked pretty quickly and I fell in love with the game. I played basketball and football growing up, but lacrosse was different for me. I played for the Derry youth program which was under the Pinkerton Academy system where I went to high school.
Q. Do you like to give inspirational speeches to your players before the game?
A. The best speeches are not forced. Come game time there is always something to make a statement about but I try to keep it quick and to the point to make sure the real message is understood. It could be a challenge to the players, a reminder about the hard work they’ve done to prepare, or the call to step up to the plate and prove something.
Q. What are your top three priorities at San Clemente for the upcoming season?
A. There is a lot going on with in the San Clemente lacrosse community. With 3d Lacrosse now in the mix, a new youth program in the Sand Crabs, and a serious goal for the Tritons which lead the way in the community it is going to be a great year. My priorities include 1 – to lead our players to an improved level of play, 2 – to tackle the tough schedule we have set for ourselves, and 3 – ultimately to take home the trophy at the end of the season. All three are achievable, and work starts pretty soon, not that it ever ended.
Q. What style of play do you like to use?
A. SMART! I think every coach would agree with that answer. Fast paced is the second thing that comes to mind. However, there are times where fast play is needed and there are times when slow play is needed. Once again, smart play is the constant demand and expectation from our staff to our players and team.
Q. What is your favorite movie?
A. Great question! There are a few… I’d have to say “The Departed,” its been on TV a lot lately and was the last great movie I watched. A few of the other favorites include “Good Will Hunting”, “Anchorman”, “Super Troopers”, “Old School”, and anything with Chris Farley or Will Ferrell. On the sports side of things I would have to say “Hoosiers” and “THE SANDLOT”!
Q. Southern Cal or Northern Cal, which has better lacrosse?
A. Southern California, of course, but Nor Cal has a lot of quality lacrosse going on. Lacrosse hasn’t been here in Southern Cal as long as up there but we have closed the gap. San Diego is the leader for Southern California, with Orange County maybe a step or two behind. Overall, California has a lot of great lacrosse going on. Having come from New England which has seasons, hot summers and cold winters, the benefit to the athletes and coaches in California is that lacrosse can happen 12 months a year, outside! I’m not sure the athletes understand what that means and how much that benefits them, but they have a serious advantage in that department.
Q. Do you have any children that play lacrosse?
A. No kids of my own yet; the 150+ a year that I manage are enough for now.
Q. Would you say you are quiet on the sidelines or do you like the guys to hear you?
A. I’m quiet in general; screaming gives me nothing but a headache. At last year’s end of year banquet my board gifted me a megaphone of sorts. Thanks Nancy! I’ve played for and coached with a number of different coaches with various styles; some yelled, some spoke softly. Although I don’t have a problem with letting my voice be heard when need be, and there are certain times that I need to make sure my point is heard. This being said, I can’t stand pulling teeth. You either have the drive to be great, which means you’re automatically geared to being in the fold and getting a lot of playing time, or you’re not, which has a completely different outcome. A quote that came to me a couple years back is something I live by: “Success is in the preparation.” This rings louder to me than a scream ever could. Come game day, the preparation should already be complete; success should be the outcome if everyone does their part.
Q. What is one thing about you that most people do not know?
A. My entrepreneurial spirit has me in a number of directions with and beyond lacrosse. I coach year-round, and usually have something lacrosse-oriented tied in on a daily basis. The other businesses I am involved with include a restaurant in Ecco at The Camp in Costa Mesa which myself and my fellow investors are proud to have recently reached the three-year mark, Rancho Las Lomas Resort & Zoological Garden in Silverado where I’m the general manager. This part of my life is as close to a 9-5 as I want to be! 4 Leaf Lacrosse which has been operating in the Orange County area since 2008, and most recently joining up with 3d Lacrosse as the Orange County Area Manager along with the recent launch of a new non-profit in the San Clemente Sand Crabs which is the new program for the youth in San Clemente coming out this winter. I’m fairly busy, which keeps me on track although some days are a stretch.
Q. If you had one SCHS game to play over from this past year which game would it be?
A. There were a few games in which we underachieved this past season. We were close with CDM and didn’t finish, we didn’t show up against Foothill on two occasions, and we lost to Agoura at our home away from home, Hermosa Field. In all four of these games WE unfortunately lost, end of story. If I could get our crew to play one over it would have to be Foothill in the second round of the playoffs, since it was the game that ended our season and left a big chip on my shoulder. More than a loss it was a brutal let down since we didn’t play our best for the second time against them that season. I felt we took a step back that day, which was a loss outside of the actual game. That was the most disappointing for the team, players, coaches, families, etc., especially the senior class which was a great group of student-athletes.
Q. When you were a kid, did you sit in the back of the classroom or in the front?
A. I was a student first, athlete second. My upbringing and parents made it clear that grades were what would matter in the long run. I had to really work at it which paid off in the end. I earned quality grades throughout my education but it didn’t always come easy.
Q. If you could make one rule change for high school lacrosse what would it be?
A. I am all for the forward movement and progression of this game. The rule changes have sped up the flow which is a good thing for players and spectators. I do however miss the old days of properly manicured grass fields and things like no counts between the defensive box and midline. I remember burning a lot of time in that section as a defenseman back in the day. It was a small game within the game we used to have a lot of fun with. If I could implement one new rule this year it would have to be the two point line implementation – beyond making it so a defense has to respect players that far out creating space and back side opps, we have a couple snipers on our roster!
Q. What advice do you have for the high school player who wants to play in college?
A. Work hard, then work some more. It is the same message I state to all of my players. They’ve heard me many times state that everyone they will face between the lines practices for two hours, just like them, and just like everyone else. It is the player who practices an additional two hours or more at his craft who really makes it to the next level. How many players go home and put there stick down? How many players go home and hit the wall or gym or street? You’ll be able to see them come game day. This is a concept I wish someone informed me of when I was a very young player. I didn’t learn it until my junior year in college and really pushed it going into my senior year, when I was rewarded with an All-America honor and later an induction into my university’s Hall of Fame (Southern New Hampshire). I remember getting up at 5 a.m. every morning my senior year, going through the zero degree weather across a pitch black campus to the small gym in the field house to run sprints, stairs, and do lower leg and footwork workouts. Street runs were fun as well which I did in high school in preparation for the season. I’d run the street with my stick and a ball and played wall ball of sorts off the telephone poles in between pole sprints, sounds crazy but it really makes you focus on hitting your mark, otherwise you’re chasing the ball down the street which is no fun. Nothing is for free, nothing good comes easy, all you can do is put serious work in, and one can only do serious work after he or she is ready to be great. Good things will come of it, I guarantee it.”
Thanks coach! Good luck next season!