Shoremen head men's lacrosse coach Jeff Shirk blocked out some time for some Q&A with WashingtonCollegeSports.com. Jeff was named Washington College's 11th men's lacrosse coach during the summer of 2010 and has since left an indelible mark on the program's illustrious history. In his first season, Shirk guided a young Shoremen team to its first win over a nationally-ranked opponent in nearly three years. The following season, Shirk was named the Centennial Conference Coach of the Year, guiding the Shoremen to a first-place finish in the Centennial Conference regular season for the first time since 2004 and landing them a spot in both the Centennial Conference Championship game and the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time since 2008.In 2013, Shirk again led the Shoremen to an NCAA Division III Tournament appearance as they won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2008 and were ranked as high as fifth in the nation for the first time since 2008. Shirk was again named the Centennial Conference Coach of the Year in 2014 as the Shoremen went 18-2 (tying the team's single-season win mark and posting its second-highest ever winning percentage), went a perfect 8-0 in Centennial Conference regular season play, won the Centennial Conference Championship for the first time since 2003, and reached the NCAA Division III Semifinals for the first time since 2004. Following the season, he was named the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Coach of the Year by CaptainU. Full Bio
Q: What has the Covid-19 crisis taught you over the last couple of months?
A: This experience has really reinforced my love for coaching. I miss being around the guys on a daily basis, miss preparing for games, and miss being on campus. It has taught me to never take anything for granted because you never know when it could be taken away. I have thoroughly enjoyed staying in touch with the guys and catching up over Zoom calls.
Q: What is your favorite quarantine activity(s)?
A: Being around family. We have daily 11am family workout sessions. Going for runs, doing circuits in the driveway, and practicing lacrosse in the backyard is a highlight of everyday.
Q: What are you most looking forward to when the crisis is over with?
A: Going to the beach. I can't wait to load the family up in the car and drive to Rehoboth. Swimming in the ocean, biking around the state park, and getting dinner on the boardwalk are things I can't wait to do again.
Q: What traits do you look for when recruiting student-athletes to Washington College?
A: Athleticism, work ethic, and a drive to accomplish big things in college. The most successful athletes in college are the ones who have a goal and are willing to make sacrifices working to achieve that goal.
Q: What kind of experience is a future student-athlete going to have if they attend the College?
A: A close knit family type atmosphere that prides itself on hard work, personal growth, and developing lifelong friendships.
Q: What excites you the most about next year's team?
A: Getting the guys back on campus so we can work together in pursuit of our goals.
Q: What is your favorite moment with your team thus far in your career?
A: I have had many great moments at WAC during my 10 years in Chestertown but my favorite time is always Alumni weekend in October. Getting everyone back to campus to reconnect and celebrate being a Shoreman is the best time of year.
Q: When did you know that you wanted to pursue coaching and did you have any influences that pushed you into the field?
A: My fifth year in college I had the opportunity to join the coaching staff as an undergraduate assistant coach. It was that experience that solidified my love for coaching. I had a job offer to work for a company I had interned with on the American Stock Exchange when I graduated. That is what I thought I was going to do until a conversation with my future wife. She could see how much I loved coaching and encouraged me to pursue that path.
Q: Are there any past or present coaches (in or out of your sport) that you model yourself after or have studied more than others? If so, why?
A: I have been blessed with great coaches throughout my life. My father and Dick Edell are two that have had the most impactful influence on who I am and what I value. They showed me how hard work and a caring approach can have the most positive impact on the people you encounter. In almost every situation I ask myself how my father or Dick Edell would handle it before making a decision and moving forward.
Q: What are some of your interests/hobbies outside of coaching?
A: Anything with family. We love camping, hiking, going to the beach, and pretty much anything outside in nature.
Q: Who is your favorite professional athlete(s) of all-time and why?
A: My father. He played 11 years of professional football, the majority being with the New York Giants. It didn't come easy for him. He was cut by the NY Jets out of college and spent a year as a high school teacher in Ohio before getting an opportunity with the Memphis Grizzlies in the World Football League. After two years in Memphis he got an opportunity to try-out for the NY Giants. Everyone said he was too small and too slow to be an NFL tight end. Through extreme hard work he proved everyone wrong. I was too little to remember much of my dad playing professional football but everyone I encounter who saw him play comments on his work ethic and toughness. He is someone I have always wanted to emulate.
Q: Three dinner guests who are famous in any aspect of life (past or present)?
A: Payton Manning, Vince Vaughn, Johnny Knoxville
Q: What are your three favorite sports movies of all time?
A: Miracle, Hoosiers, Happy Gilmore
Q: Who are your three favorite musicians/bands of all-time?
A: Dave Mathews Band, Jimmy Buffett, Bruce Springsteen