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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Men's Lacrosse | As coach of foes, Crosby balances emotions, allegiance

When you spend the vast majority of your four years of college eating, sleeping, training, traveling, playing and winning NESCAC and national championships with a team, you tend to grow fond of it.

Or so says Evan Crosby (LA '10), a former defenseman on the men's lacrosse team, who last fall took up a position as an assistant coach on the Amherst men's lacrosse team. On Saturday, the Jumbos beat the Lord Jeffs, 13−9, in the two teams' season−opener, leaving Crosby in unfamiliar, bittersweet territory, or perhaps mostly bitter territory with just a touch of sweet.

Crosby was a major part of the Jumbos' defense over the past four years, but when he found out about an open coaching position at Amherst, his passion for lacrosse outweighed — albeit ever so slightly — his allegiance to his former team.

"I had an interest in going to graduate school at UMass for sports management, so I reached out to [Amherst] coach [Jon] Thompson," he said. "I just asked him, ‘What's your staff like right now?' and at the time they had a second assistant position open, so I interviewed for it, and that's how it came about."

Crosby's fiancee is also an assistant coach on the women's lacrosse team, which he noted as another reason to work for the Lord Jeffs.

In preparation for Saturday's game, Crosby tried to use his knowledge of the Jumbos' inner workings to help the Jeffs compete to the best of their abilities. It's very possible that Crosby's knowledge helped; Amherst kept a potent Tufts offense to 13 goals, leading to the Jumbos' closest opening game since 2007.

"One of our main goals was to limit the transition opportunities because that's where Tufts thrives," Crosby said. "Did we execute it perfectly? No, but we have a very young team, and I think the guys did a great job against the number−one team in the nation."

The Jumbos know, however, that as much as Crosby may have helped Amherst with his inside knowledge, it was probably more of his general skills and knowledge of the game that helped his defense succeed.

"Crosby is an absolute competitor and I am sure he wanted nothing more than to beat us," senior quad−captain Ryan Molloy, an attackman, said. "He's a great teammate who will always have your back and had a great season last year for us as a senior."

Leading up to the contest, some of Crosby's former teammates heckled him, but when game time rolled around, it was all business for both parties.

"Many of the teammates didn't make it too easy on me, sending me text messages, letting me know they were going to bring their ‘A−game,'" Crosby said. "I had an incredible experience here at Tufts, and while I'm grateful for that, I'm a pretty competitive person by nature, so leading into the game I prepared myself as if I were a player, you know, for the Amherst side."

"Obviously it was awkward walking onto the field when those guys were warming up," he continued. "That was my practice field, my game field, so going through the motions on the opposite side of the field was definitely different."

Crosby said that the Tufts lacrosse family is incredibly tight and that there was no hostility towards him as a coach for the opposing squad. But this may have had less to do with the eternal love between Tufts lacrosse players and more with the fact that the Jumbos were so entirely focused on winning the game that they weren't thinking about Crosby on the other sideline.

"It was just another NESCAC game. Honestly I didn't even think of the fact that Evan was on the other sideline while the game was being played," Molloy said. "Of course it makes for a more exciting storyline to the game, but in actuality it was just another game which we approached the same as any."

For now, Crosby's competitiveness requires that his allegiance lie with the Lord Jeffs. And, thankfully, his current team's game against his former team came in the season−opener — if it happened to be at the end of the season for a NESCAC title, his emotions might really have been befuddled.