BJ O'Hara Named Head Coach of New York Lizards


New York Lizards general manager Joe Spallina just lured one of the most successful coaches in Major League Lacrosse history to replace him as the Lizards’ head coach.

BJ O’Hara, a four-time MLL champion, is leaving the Denver Outlaws to take the helm in New York, the league and franchise announced Wednesday.

O’Hara, fresh off leading Denver to its third title in five years, also led the Rochester Rattlers to the 2008 championship. He’s the only head coach in history to win four championships and three with one team. He owns a career record of 81-67, plus a 9-4 mark in the playoffs.

Now O’Hara will lead the Lizards after former Spallina decided to focus exclusively on his front office role to balance it with a myriad of others he holds in lacrosse. Spallina is also the head women’s lacrosse coach at Stony Brook and an assistant for the U.S. women’s national team.

“[O’Hara] brings a championship pedigree,” Spallina said in an article on the Lizards website. “When we laid out the things that fit our search, he checked all of those boxes.” 

O’Hara said he’ll employ a player-centric, fast-paced brand of lacrosse.

“We’re going to let them loose,” he said. “The offense will be high RPM.”

O’Hara will certainly have some of the league’s best offensive weapons at his disposal. In addition to reigning MLL MVP Rob Pannell, the Lizards have signed Mark Matthews, Nick Aponte, Jordan McBride and Mike Unterstein this offseason.

O’Hara will work full-time for the Lizards, playing a prominent role in the franchise’s efforts off the field as well.

“That was one of the things that really drew me to this opportunity — the ability to get more involved in the day-to-day, week-to-week and year-round programming of the Lizards and being involved the community outreach and helping to grow the Lizards brand in the metro New York area,” O’Hara said. “That’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re going to be able to put some really exciting programming together for the youth in greater New York.” 

New York opens the 2019 MLL season May 31 against O’Hara’s former team when it hosts Denver.

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