High school spring sports

Smooth transition for Windjammer lacrosse coaches Ward, Rogers

Ward takes over girls program, Rogers boys team
By Mark Haskell | Apr 11, 2018
Photo by: Mark Haskell Camden Hills lacrosse coaches Wade Ward (girls), left, and Harrison Rogers (boys). Ward previously coached the Windjammer boys, with Rogers being his assistant.

Rockport — Addition by subtraction perhaps best explains the state of the Camden Hills Regional High School lacrosse programs head into the 2018 season.

With one coach stepping down at the conclusion of last year, another moving from guiding one team to the other and a third moving from an assistant to the head coaching ranks, it plays out like a game of shuffle up and deal.

But, according to athletic director Steve Alex, in regards to the circumstances surrounding the programs, “it was almost too easy.”

Boys lacrosse coach Wade Ward, who guided the Windjammers three seasons, will transition to coach the girls program this season after former coach Amy Gertner resigned her post to take a job out of state. Gertner led the Windjammer girls five seasons.

Harrison Rogers, who was an assistant on last year’s boys team, now will assume the role of the boys head coach.

“We’ve got two great coaches leading both programs,” said Alex. “When Wade took over [the boys program three years ago] he really turned our program around. We made the [Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference] championships, we’ve made it to the [regional] semifinals and postseason. I’m confident Wade’s going to turn around the girls program too.”

Under Ward, the Windjammer boys amassed a 27-12 recordm including two playoff appearances, two KVAC Class B championship match berths and one undefeated regular season in 2016.

Under Gertner, the Windjammer girls were 26-38, with three playoff appearances in five seasons.

The 33-year-old Rogers, from Grand Island, N.Y., played on the men’s lacrosse team at State University of New York at Potsdam, where he was a two-time All-SUNYAC Conference selection, a two-time SUNYAC Academic Chancellor’s Award winner and was team captain during his final two years with the Bears.

Since that time, he has spent several years coaching lacrosse at the youth, high school, travel and university levels, along with being the Lacrosse Development Officer of the English Lacrosse Association at the University of Nottingham.

“I am very excited to continue all the great things that coach Wade, the players, and the lacrosse community have done in the last few years,” said Rogers. “We have 33 student-athletes playing boys lacrosse this season which is the best numbers we have had. Having an experienced lacrosse player in Ethan Hotchkiss to coach the junior varsity guys will help develop the defense and young players.”

Rogers moved to Camden last year with his wife, Diana, and, according to Alex, “was just looking for some opportunity to coach or volunteer.” The Windjammer boys already had an assistant coach on staff last year in Dwight Pitcairn, but Rogers stayed on as a volunteer coach.

Ward and Rogers connected through mutual networking in the close-knit lacrosse community last year and the two quickly hit it off.

“He does have a fantastic coaching background,” said Ward of Rogers. “After reading his resumé when he brought it with him to our initial meeting, I told him ‘you should be coaching the team, not me.’ ”

“We set a time to meet and ended up talking about lacrosse and the community for hours over lunch,” said Rogers. “I have been lucky to have had such devoted coaches in my playing career and Wade is also one of the most devoted coaches I have ever met. The mutual love of the game of lacrosse really made coaching with coach Wade an ideal fit.”

Rogers said his plan was only to “support Wade and the players last season,” but “When coach [Ward] made the decision to switch to coaching the girls team, I was 100 percent supportive and wanted to continue to help him and the lacrosse community in any way I could.”

As it turned out, that was to take over at the helm of the boys program.

Ward said the boys have been “fantastic” the past three years and “they were always a motivated, hard-working group,” but the opportunity to assume duties as the girls varsity coach — with his 12- and 9-year-old daughters potentially moving up to the program in the coming years — was too good to pass up.

“It didn’t make sense to me that I would be coaching the boys and missing my daughters play,” he said. “When that opened up, it was a perfect opportunity for me to jump in," Ward said.

That, and he knew he was leaving the boys program in good hands.

“I couldn’t just leave one program for another without good/clear conscience that there was someone willing to take over the program who could continue the hard work the boys and their families had put into elevating the program,” said Ward. “After meeting and coaching with Harrison, I was confident that he would be good for the program.”

Ward and Rogers mentioned that their assistant coaches — Johanna Billington and Ethan Hotchkiss — are paramount to the successes of the respective teams as well.

Ward said that while he and Rogers are the head coaches, there was a great deal of work that went into cultivating the program before their respective arrivals — largely with the involvement of Pen Bay Lacrosse — that put them in their current position for potential success on the varsity fields.

Ward said he and Rogers bring different perspectives to games and practices.

“I’m kind of more of a defensive-minded guy,” said Ward. “I think defensively. Whereas he played attack in college, and he really brought that different viewpoint to the team and really was able to take some of those kids and break them out in that attack position in the midfield and offensive end.”

Ward said his hope is “all the hard work from the athletes will trickle down to the youth program Pen Bay Lacrosse, which will help to grow lacrosse in the Midcoast.”

“It helps that we’ve got Oceanside right there,” he said. “We’ve got two girls programs right next to each other in the Midcoast and Lincoln Academy [in Newcastle] is right down the road. We used to be kind of on an island on our own up here, now we’re bringing lacrosse more to the mainstream.”

This year there are a combined 59 players — 26 girls and 33 boys — playing lacrosse at CHRHS. Ward said those are the largest combined numbers he has seen for the program.

Now, it will be up to the coaches to cultivate that home-grown talent. And both feel up to the task.

“Our goal is to grow the game of lacrosse in the Midcoast area and get more student-athletes playing this great sport,” said Rogers. “The goal for our players is to work hard and always improve every practice and every game.”

“We’re both passionate about lacrosse and we’re both just passionate about teaching kids,” said Ward. “Our focus isn’t about winning or destroying other teams, it’s about what can we do to grow the game. And we’ve got an incredibly opportunity to grow the game in Camden.”

Camden Hills girls lacrosse coach Wade Ward. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Camden Hills boys lacrosse coach Harrison Rogers. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Camden Hills girls lacrosse team members. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Camden Hills boys lacrosse team members. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Camden Hills lacrosse team members. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
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