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Q&A With Outlaws Coach Jim Stagnitta

By Steve Guglielmo |  3/26/12 11:45 AM

Q&A With Outlaws Coach Jim Stagnitta


MLL's Steve Guglielmo caught up with Denver Outlaws Head Coach Jim Stagnitta to discuss his transition from the collegiate coaching level to the professional coaching level and what the Outlaws need to do this year to win their first Steinfeld Trophy.

This is your first season with the Outlaws after having spent the past 10 seasons at Rutgers. What is the biggest difference between the collegiate game and the MLL game?

I think that there are a couple of differences. Some of the differences are in the approach. A major difference is that you get to spend your week focusing on the game and the game preparation in complete. You’re not focusing on all of the other aspects of it that come with being a college coach. The paperwork and all of the player development, recruiting, academics, etc. There are no real distractions from the fun part of it, which is preparing yourself for the game and preparing your team for the game, watching film and putting together a game plan. That is different. Certainly the preparation is different in that you practice once per week. That being said, you also are practicing with a quality of player that has a much better ability to digest it and to execute a game plan after one practice and one walk through. Then, there are some differences in the game…defending the two point shot, playing with the shot clock, substitutions, and the speed of the game is going to be a little bit different than the college level.

Talk about your success in college and how that will translate into the MLL.

I’m a professional coach. Not in the context of the pro league, but it’s all I’ve done for 27 years. I have a phenomenal staff. They have done this full time for a long time. In a lot of ways there isn’t going to be much we haven’t seen, certainly during the game and the ability to make adjustments and prepare the guys. It’s what I’ve done for 27 years, so in that regard I think that I’m comfortable with that aspect of it. I think that is a little bit different than what they have had in the league over the years. That is what I have committed my life to full-time. I think that the fact that this is what we have done as a staff, as a profession will help us hit the ground running.

You played for Outlaws GM Tony Seaman in college and coached with him as well. What will it be like to work with him again?

It has been an ongoing relationship. It’s funny how things come full circle, it’s neat. I played for Tony at Penn in his first few years there. As a player I had a great experience underneath him. He’s had a huge impact on my career. I had an opportunity to get into the college coaching ranks as an assistant at Penn with him a couple of years later, which spring boarded me on. We’ve continued a relationship through our camps and business things. He has always been a mentor to me and gave me some great opportunities and when he approached me about this opportunity, I couldn’t say no. And also having the opportunity to go into a situation like this and work for somebody who has been on the sidelines and been in big games and coached as long as Tony has, it’s a nice situation maybe compared to some others because we have worked hand-in-hand on things. He’s a GM and he has asked my input on a lot of the decisions he has made but he understands what it takes and how to treat players and what it’s like to be on the sideline and prepare and compete. On top of our relationship, the fact that he has been there and done this for so long is certainly a bonus for us.

What kind of things are you doing in the off-season to prepare for the new season?

It has been an interesting off-season with the MLL Drafts. In this off-season, juggling that part of it and it’s no secret that the Outlaws have been in the MLL Championships and just haven’t gotten over the hump. We’ve been trying to put together a roster that will give me an opportunity and a game plan that will help us get over that hump. I don’t think we need a whole lot. There is very little that separates you when you get to that level. I’ve been meeting with my staff to talk about preseason camps and how to maximize the short amount of time that you get with the guys.

What are your expectations going into the season? Is there any specific area that you will be looking to improve over last year?

I expect early on that I’m going to learn a lot from the players. I expect that they will, in turn, learn a lot from our staff. I think we’re going to learn a whole lot early on about the league and about how to manage the personnel. I expect that with the influx of some of these young kids it will rejuvenate and excite some of these older guys. I think if we can get the chemistry and get it early, I think that we’re going to compete. We’re strong on the defensive end, we have an excellent goalie, I think that we have a terrific coaching staff and I think that we’re terrific on the attack side. The middle of the field we’re athletic and those are going to be our role guys. I know we said that the game is played in the middle of the field and I think that we have some good players there and guys who will be able to play within our system. I think that we have accomplished as much as we could in preparing this team in the off-season and the expectation is to get over the hump. It’s the reason that we’re here.

What will it take to get over the hump and finally win that Steinfeld trophy?

Well I think that we have some established all pro players at both ends of the field. My sense is that we need just a fresh start and maybe just mixing up some of the personnel a little bit. It was a veteran team and it’s a lot of travel. We were able to kind of make it a nice mix of young and old. We have some really terrific young kids coming in and we’ve put together a nucleus of a team that will be able to practice and spend some time together. I think team chemistry is important…I don’t care what level you’re at. In my time watching film, this is a league where the role players are very important. Everybody is going to have their front-line guys and their blue chips, just like the college level. It’s the other guys, the role players, and their ability to buy in and execute their role and I think we have tried to address that in the off-season and find the right people to mesh with our marquee players. Adding some of that youth and that excitement that you’re going to get by bringing in some real quality college players.



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