Hall of Fame coach Dom Starsia (left) and his former player, Wagner coach Matt Poskay, pose for a photo during a Seahawks practice last week in snowy Staten Island, N.Y.

Dom Starsia: 'That Was Like Riding a Bike'

In June of 2001, I went to the inaugural session of the Blue Chip Camp being held at McDonogh (Md.) School to see a single player from a small high school in Central New Jersey.  There were fewer than a hundred players in attendance and only a handful of college coaches who were paying attention.

Although Matt Poskay had more than 300 goals going into his senior year, the skeptics outnumbered the believers with regard to his college potential. He was a peculiar player. I never saw him dodge and he faced off with one leg extended straight behind. We offered him the last spot in the class (until we offered one to JJ Morrissey).

This modest high school student graduated from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia in 2006. He was twice selected as an All-American, he was an Academic All-American and played key roles on national championship teams in 2003 and 2006.  Poskay went on to be a Major League Lacrosse All-Star in both 2007 and 2008 and was the MLL MVP in 2010. He spent the 2009 MLL season in recovery from testicular cancer that was diagnosed that spring. 

I could easily have been on a field at Brown or Virginia, and it was only 15 minutes in when the entire team dropped for pushups when someone went offsides in a drill. That was like riding a bike.

Poskay had an amazing playing career, and I use the story of his journey whenever I find myself talking to young players. When I ask them if they would like to replicate his college experience, they respond with a resounding, “Yes, of course.” Well, here is the simple key that unlocks that door.

He got up for breakfast everyday.

You mean most days, right? You don’t mean Sunday mornings in college. You mean, like, five days a week.

No, I mean every day.

Go back and read through Poskay’s career. I am offering that to you. All you have to do is agree to get up every morning for breakfast.  I am not even saying that you can’t go out, but you gotta get up! Think about that, and consider how many young men are unwilling to make that trade-off.

Fast-forward to the fall of 2016 —my first fall in 42 years without lacrosse. Poskay was entering his sixth year as the head coach at Wagner College. He was one of my favorite players, someone who possessed that rare combination of confidence and personality. Always respectful, he gave it as good as he got from me on the practice field, and I treasured those exchanges.  We probably talked twice a week throughout his coaching career, and those conversations and his personality helped him survive the incremental growth of the Wagner program.

It was during one of these late summer phone calls that Poskay mentioned he was short a member of his coaching staff. When I suggested that I might be able to come by a couple of times to help out in some way, he asked if they might issue a press release making that announcement. We both agreed to hold off on the release, but we immediately scheduled a couple of visits when I could make back-to-back sessions. When I began to ask if he would like me to stand off to the side and make some observations or to get a little more involved, he cut me.

“No, no, I want you out there,” he said. “Let them have it.”


Though Wagner lost to Manhattan 14-13 in triple overtime in its season opener, Starsia sees potential in the Seahawks. "I think they're onto something," he writes.

To Poskay, his staff and his players’ great credit, I found myself comfortable almost immediately.  I could easily have been on a field at Brown or Virginia, and it was only 15 minutes in when the entire team dropped for pushups when someone went offsides in a drill. That was like riding a bike.

If I lived closer to Staten Island, I might have Matt issue that press release. As it is, I will try to help whenever I can. I was impressed with the attentiveness of the Wagner players, their enthusiasm and their athleticism. I think they are onto something. I think they liked doing the pushups!

Dom Starsia, a National Lacrosse Hall of Famer and US Lacrosse Magazine contributor, is the winningest coach in NCAA Division I men's lacrosse history. Starsia compiled 375 wins in 34 seasons at Brown and Virginia, leading the Cavaliers to four NCAA championships. He was a two-time All-American defenseman at Brown and played for the U.S. national team in 1978.