PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There are a lot of people that have had success at a high level as both a player and a coach in a particular sport. Usually, though, the coaching comes once the playing days are done.
That is not the case with Tucker Durkin, a standout pro lacrosse player with the Florida Launch of the Major Lacrosse League who is also getting ready for his third season as the head men’s lacrosse coach at Division III Bryn Athyn College up in Montgomery County.
The 26-year-old Durkin recently completed his 2017 season as a player with the Launch. A defender, he helped Florida to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history while earning MLL Defensive Player of the Year honors.
“It’s special,” Durkin tells KYW Newsradio about the award. “It’s definitely an honor. I think when you have an awesome goalie in Austin [Kaut], I think when you’ve got some supporting defenders, young guys that really do a great job, it makes my job a little bit easier. It’s definitely a credit to my teammates, to my coaches, our coaches do an unbelievable job with the scouting reports. When we go into a game, we’ve got a pretty irontight game plan and they let us know pretty much everything the other team is trying to do.”
Durkin starred at La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor and then went on to excel for lacrosse powerhouse Johns Hopkins University in college. He was the #3 overall pick in the 2013 MLL Draft.
His coaching career at Bryn Athyn began in 2016.
“You ask me five years ago, was I going to be a college coach, the answer probably would’ve been no,” Durkin says. “But in college, and even in high school, when I look back, it makes sense. Because when you’re at Hopkins, and even in the beginning of my pro career, you have opportunities to coach camps and to coach younger players at different areas across the country. And I ended up doing that, ended up taking advantage of that. When I look back, it’s some of the most rewarding and fulfilling work I did. And I loved it. I absolutely loved coaching. So I never thought I’d be a college coach, but when I look back at the experience I had, even going to camps, I absolutely loved it. So it kind of makes sense, looking back, that I’m here now.”
He talks about how being a player and a coach really compliment each other for him.
“I actually think since I started coaching, as a player, I can kind of see things a little bit more,” he says. “I analyze the game more as a player. I actually think coaching at Bryn Athyn College has helped me become a better professional lacrosse player. Because I’m totally immersed in the game now. So I’m looking at film and watching lacrosse almost year round. Where as before, I was in a corporate job and I was kind of removed from lacrosse when I wasn’t in the MLL Season. So I think from the MLL playing side it has helped me, but from a coaching side it’s definitely a little bit different, little bit of an adjustment. You don’t have the control you have as a player. You can try to prepare your guys the best you can, motivate them the best you can, but at the end of the day you don’t have the control like you would when you’re actually out there on the field.”
As far as his Bryn Athyn squad is concerned, Durkin says the 2018 season can’t get here soon enough.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” he says. “Since I arrived at Bryn Athyn College, we’ve always had a very small roster. Bryn Athyn College is a small school, so it makes sense. But one of my goals from day one was that we need a roster of at least 25 to 35 guys and we need that as quick as possible. Because the problem is, when you only have 15 to 20 guys, not only during games are our guys exhausted, but we can’t scrimmage against each other. This year’s recruiting class we got about 15 new faces at Bryn Athyn. All very strong players, really good players from Baltimore-area, some from the Philly-area, some from other spots as well. This is one of the first years I feel like we’re actually looking like a full roster. So I think that’s absolutely huge for us. Huge for our program to kind of take that next step. My goal is I want to help get Bryn Athyn College lacrosse on the map. We want to play some of the top schools around, some of the top schools in the country and we want to compete with them and beat them.”
Bryn Athyn went 8-8 under Durkin in 2017.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @Mattleonkyw.