July 1, 2020

During Abbreviated Debut Guiding Stuart Lax, Maser Looked to Instill Up-Tempo Approach

LINE OF FIRE: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse goalie Caroline Letrent tracks a shot in a 2019 game. Letrent, the lone senior on the Stuart squad this spring, didn’t get to experience a big finale as the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Mark Maser coached his daughter Julia when she played travel lacrosse and then enjoyed watching her star for the Stuart Country Day lax program.

Over the years, Maser worked with the WW/P Lightning Lacrosse and Ultimate Lacrosse club programs before his daughter went on to play at Colby College.

This spring, when Stuart’s longtime lacrosse head coach Missy Bruvik decided to step down, Maser was ready to get into high school coaching.

“I have known Missy Bruvik for a number of years and as a parent who watched the Stuart program for many years, I thought I knew the game,” said Maser, 56, a native of Long island who played lax at the Coast Guard Academy and went on to practice law after completing his military service.

“I would get into Missy’s ear every once in a while. In conversations, I said if I ever got the time I would love to coach because I think I would do it a little bit differently.”

As he looked forward to guiding the Tartans, Maser was looking to employ an up-tempo game.

“I have a different philosophy on how to play the game,” said Maser.

“Watching college games in women’s lacrosse and the like, I think the best teams play a faster game. Not that you don’t come down and set up plays but I like to run kind of like an option offense. If it was football, I would call it a triple option.”

Maser didn’t get the chance to install that offense as schools were closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the spring sports season was formally canceled weeks later.

“I had two practices and then the third practice was canceled,” lamented Maser.

In running those practices, Maser focused on making connections with the squad.

“In the two practices it was new coach, new season; we both, as players and coach, had to learn each other,” said Maser, who was taking the helm of a team that went 6-7 in 2019, advancing to the second round of the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep B quarterfinals along the way.

“Beyond that a couple of things I wanted to  get implemented and we did get implemented the first day were things I learned from Julia when she played at Colby. Every day we had a practice, we had a practice player of the day. The way it works at the end of the first day, I pick one of the players and said, ‘you gave the most effort in practice today, let’s congratulate you. Tomorrow, your responsibility is to watch everybody else playing on the team and you will select the practice player of the day.’”

With only one senior, goalie Caroline Letrent, on the roster, Stuart was undergoing a youth movement.

“Some of the girls who were there didn’t even have sticks; they were going to learn, follow, and be eager to have new experiences,” said Maser.

“I saw that in my short two days. One girl who had never played before picked up a stick and by the end of practice one, she was fairly proficient throwing and passing with only an hour-and-a-half of time under her belt.”

While Maser’s first experience coaching at the high school level only lasted a few days, he is eager to get back on the field with the Tartans.

“I was very much looking forward to the season, it was very disappointing,” said Maser.

“I was talking to Missy with my wife and she said I have the world’s shortest coaching career and Missy said oh no, he is coming back next year. As long as I am available, I want to do it.”