Sticking close to home

Hopkins: In the world of new Blue Jays coach John Haus, family and work come first. It's not surprising that he is employing a fatherly approach with his team.

February 25, 1999|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN STAFF

Still feeling the rush from that afternoon's intense scrimmage, Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse coach John Haus bolts back home to pop in the videotape and eagerly break down the film.

That's until Haus is greeted by two of his sons, who have their hearts set on throwing the lacrosse ball around with their dad in the backyard.

For the new coach of the No. 1 team in the country, it's no contest what comes first. So stop the tape, put on a sweatshirt and grab a lacrosse stick.

"In my mind, family is No. 1. I have to be honest," Haus said with a pause. "And a close second is my job. You have to have your priorities."

Haus, 37, takes his first step as a Division I head coach in the most pressure-filled lacrosse arena with sort of the same father-figure approach. It's a vastly different mood from Tony Seaman, who was forced out as coach June 22 by the school's alumni for not winning a national title in eight seasons.

Whereas Seaman befriended players, Haus prefers to instruct them. While players could run-and-gun offensively under Seaman, they run laps under Haus.

"We all miss Coach Seaman," Hopkins goalkeeper Brian Carcaterra said. "But change is change. Sometimes it's for the better and sometimes for the worse. Right now, everyone feels we're on the right track. The attitude is different, as well. We're kind of like workhorses and blue collar now."

All practices are strictly planned for exactly two hours and recorded in detail on Haus' computer.

If you miss a practice or are late, Haus notes it. If you forget study hall or drift off during practice, prepare to run.

If you offer any departure from the team concept, you'll receive an invitation to his office, where he'll reaffirm his philosophy over a pretzel.

"I'm not very complex," Haus said. "I believe in hard work. I believe in discipline. I believe in executing the fundamentals.

"But I'm a positive reinforcer. We'll tell kids when they do wrong, but probably 30 seconds later, we'll tell them that they just did something right."

Players don't argue with the method when seeing the results.

Haus is the only person to win an NCAA lacrosse title as a player (North Carolina in 1981 and 1982) and as a head coach (Washington College in 1998). He won two NCAA championships as a Tar Heels defenseman, went to three Final Fours as a Hopkins assistant from 1988 to 1994, and directed Washington College to three straight NCAA Division III final appearances.

As a player and a coach, Haus won without speaking much. He emits a quiet intensity and yells only when needed.

"He was a fierce competitor who always led by example," said Steve Stenersen, executive director of US Lacrosse, who was Haus' teammate for three years. "If he said anything on the field, it was usually a one- or two-word directive and that was all that was needed. You just knew by looking at his face what to do."

That look has become more well-known as The Stare.

"The stare was more than what he said," said Hopkins offensive coordinator Todd Cavallaro, who played for four years when Haus was an assistant at Homewood. "The way he looked at you -- the intensity in his eyes -- you knew you had to correct it."

"It really hits you hard," Carcaterra said. "You'd rather sometimes have a coach blow up on you."

But that's not Haus. He's simple, direct and honest.

Haus will openly chat about how it surprises him that Hopkins hasn't won an NCAA championship since 1987. He acknowledges the high-profile status of the job, but it won't change his life.

It's that part of his personality along with his winning tradition on the college level that separated him from the other coaching candidates nearly eight months ago.

Several alumni supposedly backed John Tucker, a Hopkins graduate and former Gilman School coach, at the beginning. And the players were leaning in favor of Brian Voelker, its defensive coordinator, and Maryland offensive coordinator Scott Marr.

Yet the soft-spoken Haus secured the job with his interview.

"He showed a lot of self-confidence and knows how to win," Hopkins athletic director Tom Calder said. "And he knows Hopkins."

Haus appears quite comfortable at Homewood.

Walk into his office and there are more pictures of his wife, Lisa, and his three young sons than lacrosse memorabilia. The Hopkins schedule on his bulletin board is surrounded by his sons' drawings as well as a train made out of construction paper that has "I choo-choo choose you, dad" written on it.

Both worlds occasionally blend together around the house, too. One hour he'll think about the best defensive strategy to use against Princeton and the next he'll be making a soapbox derby car.

And when his children are asleep and his wife heads to bed around midnight, Haus will finally get to watch that film.

"I understand this position demands a lot," Haus said. "The thing that's important to me is that the guys that play for me don't feel any of that pressure. We demand a lot from them and they understand that. But they also understand that if I don't demand that, we're not going to get our end result."

First things first

John Haus is entering his first season as the coach of Johns Hopkins. A look at how the previous four coaches have fared in their first year:

Coach Yr. Rec. Skinny

Bob Scott '55 4-6 Lost final three games of season.

Henry Ciccarone '75 9-2 Reached NCAA quarterfinals.

Don Zimmerman '84 14-0 1st coach to win title in initial year.

Tony Seaman '91 8-4 Advanced to NCAA quarterfinals.

Haus' record

John Haus' four-year coaching record at Washington College:

Year Rec. Finish

1995 6-8 No postseason

1996 13-5 NCAA finalist

1997 14-4 NCAA finalist

1998 14-4 NCAA champion

Tot. 47-21

Pub Date: 2/25/99

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.