Gary Gait Introduced as New Head Coach of Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse
For the first time in 22 seasons, there are three words floating around Syracuse men’s lacrosse: new head coach.
Gary Gait, the head coach of Syracuse women’s lacrosse for 14 seasons and three-time national champion as a player at SU, was introduced as the new head coach of Syracuse men’s lacrosse this afternoon. During his time with the women, Gait led the Orange to a 213-75 record, appearing in three national championship games but losing all three.
There is no difference between the men’s and women’s head coaching jobs, according to Gait, but the opportunity of coaching the men’s side “was an instant yes.”
“It’s not better,” Gait said. “It’s just something I’ve wanted to do. I’ve had opportunities in the past, but I stayed with the women’s game.”
Coaching was something Gait never thought would turn out to be a career.
“To be honest, I didn’t think coaching would ever be a career,” Gait said. “Growing up in Canada, coaching is simply a volunteer position.”
In his playing career, Gait played box lacrosse in the National Lacrosse League, along with playing field lacrosse in Major League Lacrosse. The new bench boss says he thinks his college and professional experience in both games, along with his coaching experience in the women’s game, will help him with the men’s program.
“That’s going to be, I think, a big key in being creative,” Gait said. “It’ll be between style and flare, but will always have to have substance and success.”
Syracuse Athletic Director John Wildhack says he thinks Gait, the “Michael Jordan of lacrosse,” according to Wildhack, is the right man to lead the program.
“His knowledge and passion for the sport is unrivaled,” Wildhack said. “He’s an innovator and a motivator.”
Despite the positive traits Gait brings to the table, the Syracuse great has big shoes to fill. John Desko officially announced his retirement on Monday, winning five national championships as a head coach and six as an assistant coach.
Many of Desko’s players offered great thanks to the former bench boss:
What. A. Run. Thanks Coach Desko! https://t.co/ypLawtpLmY— Casey Powell (@caseypowell22) June 7, 2021
Coach Desko took a chance on me and recruited me out of high school when few else would. He let me be a part of the Syracuse family and live my dream.— Drake Porter (@drakeporter33) June 7, 2021
I’m forever grateful for my time at Syracuse and for Coach #thankyoudesko https://t.co/Hv6IKNJNCU
Even though Desko found great success as both a coach and a player, it hasn’t been found as of late. The Orange have not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2017, defeating Yale in the Dome, 11-10. Wildhack says he thinks Gait can change that.
“Coaching Syracuse lacrosse comes with great expectations,” Wildhack said. “But Gary [Gait] is more than capable of leading our men’s program back to the championship level that we all covet.”
It is uncertain if Desko will be involved in the program’s future. Gait becomes the fifth head coach in the program’s 105 year history.