After Stepping Away from College Lacrosse, Pressler Reinvigorated by Atlas Opportunity


Mike Pressler spent 16 years at Bryant, taking the Bulldogs to six NCAA tournaments.

Mike Pressler’s voice was a bit hoarse Monday as he spoke about his new gig as head coach and general manager of the Premier Lacrosse League’s Atlas LC.

The current Highland Park (Texas) head coach has been busy mentoring high school lacrosse players this spring — a change of pace from his 16 years leading the Bryant men’s lacrosse team and his previous tenure at the helm of Duke.

“Here in the preseason, I’m still trying to get my larynx in shape,” he joked.

Pressler had retired from college coaching last June, saying goodbye to Bryant before accepting the job at Highland Park later that week. While he shifted his mindset from transfer portals and NIL to bus rides across Texas, he also started up a conversation with a player he coached on the 2010 U.S. ntional team — Paul Rabil.

Rabil, who won MVP honors while leading the U.S. to gold in Manchester, England, that summer, had been struck by his experience with Pressler, who served as head coach of the 2010 team. Just over 12 years later, Rabil approached his former coach about reuniting — this time under the umbrella of the PLL.

“It’s certainly great to connect with my old friend in [Rabil]. It was a magical time in 2009 and 2010,” Pressler said. “The opportunity was very intriguing, and I had discussions with Paul early — it just became so exciting, so intriguing, so humbling to have this opportunity offered in the fourth quarter of my coaching career. I still have a lot of juice in the rectangle.”

As much as Pressler said he feels more energized to be on the practice field than ever before, he admitted that the changing college lacrosse season had an impact on his decision to step away. He mentioned the transfer portal and the growing NIL movement had impacted the game.

“A lot of that is not what I signed up for 40 years ago,” he said. “To retire, make the move to the high school level, and then join the ranks as the head coach of Atlas — I’m very humbled and blessed.”

The new Atlas coach made his first two decisions immediately after accepting the job. He added both Kevin Unterstein and Steven Brooks, who led Atlas to a runner-up finish in the PLL Championship Series, as his assistant coaches.

Both bring valuable experience from professional lacrosse. For Brooks, the experience coaching the Atlas’ Sixes team to the PLL Championship Series final certainly sealed the deal for Pressler, who watched as much of the five-day tournament as he could while at Highland Park.

From what Pressler saw, he inherits a team with arguably the biggest contingent of young talent in the league — and plenty of depth to go with it. Luckily for Pressler, he had a talent scout in his former Bryant star Marc O’Rourke, who played with the Atlas and gave his former coach plenty of information on the emerging crop of talent.

“[Brooks] did a magical job assembling [the Championship Series] roster,” Pressler said. “There’s some terrific young talent on the attack. You look at Jeff Teat, Chris Gray and Eric Law, specifically. We have young horses in the midfield — Bryan Costabile, Dox Aitken. Romar was absolutely a beast in the Sixes event. Then you have the best faceoff guy in the world right now in Trevor.”

The talent on the Atlas roster was certainly a factor in Pressler’s decision, but he was adamant that he was seeking a new challenge. The few months he’s spent with Highland Park have helped give him the energy that he’ll need to lead the Atlas to a PLL title this summer.

Pressler said he knows the dynamic will shift once again as he leads a team of professionals. The process of building a culture in the PLL requires a different approach than on the fields of Highland Park.

“The juice you have to bring to practice every day during the week is a totally different dynamic than coaching the pros for 90 minutes on a Friday,” Pressler said. “There are so many things before we put the product on the field that we have to build on. If we can’t discuss the truth and be transparent, we have no relationship. That’s something that these professional athletes desire, want and yearn for, and they’re going to get it 24/7 from our coaching staff.”


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