Monday, July 15, 2013

Head Coach Greg Raymond

Greg Raymond stood at the top of the alley and peered cautiously down. He could see little, as it was completely dark by now.

Maybe two or three hours earlier, he had walked up the alley, one that cut off about half of the walk from his hotel to the restaurant that he and about 10 others from the Princeton men's lacrosse travel party had made on their way to eat.

Back then, it had been light out. Now it was dark.

This was 13 months ago, during Princeton's trip to Costa Rica. The alley was in San Jose, the capital city.

Raymond is a big guy. He has a tough persona. He has a deep voice that gets his point across in normal terms and even more so with the slightest enunciation, to the point where he never needs to actually yell.

So what did he say as he began to go the long way, avoiding the alley?

Something to the extent of this: "I'm not afraid of anyone I may find down there, but I am not messing with any of those stray dogs."

And there is Greg Raymond in a nutshell.

Funny. Outgoing. Strong. Honest. Smart enough to know will work and what won't.

If TigerBlog had to describe Raymond, who was named the new head men's lacrosse coach at Hobart this weekend, he'd probably say how he's tough enough to walk down a dark alley at night in Costa Rica but smart enough not to.

Actually, he'd say a lot more.

TB has seen so many young assistant coaches during his time here. Presumably they've all wanted to be head coaches at some point.

The problem is that there aren't many head coaching jobs out there, certainly not enough for everyone to reach that goal.

In Raymond's case, it was obvious from Day 1 that he was going to get there. He just has a quality about him that separates him from most people who come through the door.

He was a three-time captain at Johns Hopkins, and his career ended with an NCAA title in 2005. TB was at the game and never noticed Raymond, the longstick midfielder. Or maybe he did, but he never imagined how much time the two would end up spending together.

Raymond first came to Princeton in 2007, when Bill Tierney was still the Tiger head coach. He stayed for two years and then left to go to Drexel, where the head coach was Chris Bates, another guy who doesn't need to yell to get his point across.

When Bates took over for Tierney a year later, he brought Raymond back with him.

Since then, it's been a matter of when, not if, Raymond would be a head coach. The countdown ended this past weekend, when Hobart wisely hired him.

With his level of maturity and the way he carries himself, it's hard to remember that he's just 30.

He certainly carries scars with him, the kind that most of us could never imagine. TigerBlog has seen the "21" tattoo that Raymond has on his chest, but he's never once talked to Raymond about anything to do with what happened that wintry night, the night that his best friend died in a car that he was driving.

TB has thought about it often through the years, how much it weighs on him, how much he grew from that moment, how that came not to define him as a person or a professional and yet has to have impacted him in both.

There have been random moments since when TB has been around Raymond and thought about what happened, wondered how often it comes back to him.

TB remembers when it happened. And he remembers everyone's reactions.

There was fierce loyalty to Raymond back then. He's the kind who brings that out in people.

And so everyone stood up for him, became protective of him. And they all worked hard to get him a second chance.

It became his job to live up to that second chance and to be worthy of all the people who stood up for him. As someone who has seen him up close all these years since, TB can also say that there have been so many random moments when he has looked at Raymond, thought about it and wanted to say to everyone who helped him get through that moment that their faith has more than been rewarded.

And so Greg Raymond is leaving Princeton now for his first head coaching job.

Hobart is getting itself a man of the highest quality, the highest integrity.

And a charismatic man, one to whom others are just naturally drawn.

TB has seen Raymond go through the game plan with his team after breakfasts on game day. He's seen him after big wins and when games haven't gone as well.

He's seen him wake up out of deep sleep when a plane landed and have him bolt up, look around, and say "hey, I'm in Spain." He's seen him covered in mud after ziplining in Costa Rica.

He's seen him interact with little kids at Princeton lacrosse camp. He's seen him around lacrosse parents and alums, at parties, at staff meetings, in the lockerroom when he's been going to work out or play basketball.

He's seen him in all of these settings and more.

And through all of them, TB has been impressed with the way he carries himself, the way he makes everyone around him laugh, the way he can do all that while at the same time being focused and driven on the task at hand. In many ways he reminds TB of Bates.

TB knew Greg Raymond was going to be a head coach one day.

Not just a head coach. A wildly successful one.

Hobart has made the perfect choice. 


JB said...

Hobart fans and alums couldn't be happier to have Coach Raymond on board. Go 'Bart!

Ed Levy said...

TB, Thank you for this post. This is the window into Greg Raymond that assures me Hobart has made a winning choice.