by Matt Hamilton
In more ways than one, Stony Brook feels like home for Jim Nagle.
Nagle, who heads Stony Brook's men's lacrosse program, has fond memories of coaching and playing in camps all over Long Island. That's where he found his love for lacrosse.
It wasn't until his time at Ward Melville that it became apparent that Nagle would have a future in the game. He led Ward Melville to a 24-0 record and the 1988 state title.
"There were so many great people involved in teaching the game and growing the tradition when I was growing up," Nagel said. "It was just something that gave everybody that played in the community a purpose in their lives."
Now back where he learned the game of lacrosse, Nagle is trying to make that same impact with the Seawolves. After successful stints at Oneonta State and Colgate, Nagle has his team where he envisioned it could be when he joined the program in 2011.
Nagle, who will speak at the US Lacrosse Convention (LaxCon) Jan. 20-22, 2017, in Baltimore, led his team to a 12-4 record and an appearance in the America East Conference semifinals in 2016. Stony Brook is 25-9 in its last two seasons under Nagle, after three straight losing seasons prior.
"It was just a great time for me, coming to a place where I grew up," he said. "We still have our challenges here, but there's no ceiling for what we can do as the university continues to grow and the athletic program continues to grow."
Stony Brook, according to Nagle, wasn't a school that lacrosse players looked to attend when he was growing up nearby. He chose Loyola — a program for which he played as a reserve during his four years — out of Ward Melville.
After graduating, Nagle wasn't sure where he wanted to go. He ended up at Springfield College in Massachusetts, where he pondered teaching or serving as a high school athletic director.
However, he accepted an offer to be an assistant coach at Springfield, and he found his calling. He led Springfield to a Division II title in 1994 , which helped him get his first big opportunity at Oneonta State in 1995.
Nagle took a struggling Red Dragons program and turned it into a national contender. He led Oneonta State to a 65-39 record in seven seasons, qualifications that brought him his next opportunity at Colgate — his first Division I job.
And again, Nagle took a program desperate for success and pushed it into the national conversation. It took a handful of years, but Colgate under Nagle reached new heights. The Red Raiders made the Patriot League final for the first time in 2007. A year later, they won the league title and qualified for the NCAA tournament.
It was the second time he turned a program around, and he did it with the same formula.
"Coaching is so much about building a culture," Nagle said. "Part of that is recruiting, but also part of that is working with the kids. You don't really see the results sometimes until you're invested in the place for at least a couple of years."
Now, he's on the same upward trajectory with the Seawolves. They earned the two seed in the America East tournament in 2016 and will look to win the conference in 2017.
"It takes time to establish who you are and the culture," he said. "That's been established here. ... The success on the field will always follow."