Unique task for Seaman Hopkins standard has him aiming high

March 01, 1991|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

In the long ago of 1962, when he was a freshman at Cortland (N.Y.) State, Tony Seaman was on his way to baseball practice when he walked past the lacrosse field and stopped to watch.

"Ten minutes," Seaman said. "That's all."

That's all it took. Seaman asked the lacrosse coach if he could try out, received an affirmative answer and "threw my baseball glove over my shoulder." The rest, if you will, is history.

Seaman played lacrosse for a few years, coached for a lot of years, and last July wound up in the cradle of lacrosse, as Johns Hopkins' 20th coach since the school began playing the sport under Elgin Gould in 1883.

In his brief time on the job, some of Seaman's beliefs about Hopkins lacrosse have been reinforced and some of his misconceptions shattered.

"This is a unique institution," said Seaman, who came to Hopkins after eight years at Penn. "Johns Hopkins feels lacrosse is very important as a Division I sport. The alumni is strong, in terms of interest and backing.

"When I was on the outside, I heard the rumors -- Hopkins cheats, it's above the rules and gets what it wants, the players are flunking out."

Seaman paused. "I probably started half of those rumors myself," he said with a smile. "They developed out of jealousy. What I've found is that Hopkins does things the right way and all the players are in good shape academically. It's not much different than the Ivy League."

There are differences between the Hopkins and Penn lacrosse programs, of course. One is athletic scholarships; Hopkins awards them and the Ivy League doesn't.

"With scholarships, you get a few great players and more players overall, giving you depth," Seaman said. "You can be more successful. Here, you get the arsenal you need." Because of that, because of the increased depth and abundance of all-around players, Seaman's philosophy has changed slightly.

"We'll be more upbeat here," Seaman said. "We'll come at you and make you make the mistakes. We have the team and coaching staff to do that."

Seaman has the team that went 6-5 under Don Zimmerman last year, plus Zimmerman's recruits. He also has two new players that he brought in himself, midfielders Brendan Cody and Steve Coffey, both transfers from Nassau (N.Y.) Community College.

"They'll really help," Seaman said. "Cody is a big-time player. He's as good as any midfielder in Division I."

The Blue Jays have been plagued by major injuries. Defenseman Dave Howland and midfielder John Sheehan, who would have been starters, are out for the season with knee injuries sustained last fall.

Defenseman Bill Dwan, who underwent a foot operation in the fall, is back, but not 100 percent. Attackman Matt Panetta, the team's leading scorer last year, missed fall practice with a bum ankle and is questionable for tomorrow's opener with a separated shoulder suffered two weeks ago.

Tomorrow's opponent is Princeton, which bounced Hopkins from the NCAA tournament last spring in the first round, 9-8. The Tigers are coached by Bill Tierney, Hopkins' first choice as Zimmerman's replacement who also happens to be one of Seaman's best friends.

"It's tough when best friends go against each other," Seaman said. "These are the only two weeks of the year we don't talk. Well, we talked maybe three minutes the other night on the phone and then our wives talked for an hour."

Seaman is the first non-Hopkins alumnus to serve as head coach since Howdy Myers more than 40 years ago. Athletic director Bob Scott says that is no handicap, since Myers went 24-3 from 1947-49, won two national championships and tied for a third.

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