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After three years away from the place where he got his start coaching, Chris Wojcik ‘96 will finally return to Harvard.
Athletics director Bob Scalise announced Monday that Wojcik—a former two-sport athlete and assistant coach for the Crimson—will serve as the new men’s lacrosse coach after John Tillman vacated the position in mid-June to take the head coaching job at Maryland.
“I’m very excited to return to Harvard as head coach,” Wojcik said. “It’s just a great opportunity to come back to my alma mater. It’s been a dream come true…I hoped at some point down the road that I was going to be the head coach at Harvard.”
Although Wojcik lacks head coaching experience, the former All-Ivy selection in lacrosse and soccer is no stranger to the Ancient Eight.
Wojcik joins Harvard after serving for two seasons as the top lacrosse assistant at Penn, where he was responsible for coordinating both the team’s recruiting and offense.
While with Penn, Wojcik helped coach the Quakers to a 10-16 record, including a 12-7 win over the Crimson last April. But perhaps Wojcik’s biggest contribution to Penn was in recruiting, where he landed the Quakers’ Drew Belinsky and Brian Feeney—both Under Armor All-Americans—for the upcoming season.
Yet while Wojcik may have found success in Philadelphia, he owes his start in coaching to Harvard. After graduating in 1996 with the William J. Bingham Award—given to the Crimson’s top male athlete—Wojcik spent seven years playing professional soccer and lacrosse before returning to serve as an assistant on the Harvard men’s lacrosse team for the 2003 season.
During the tenure of former head coach Scott Anderson, Wojcik worked for five seasons as an assistant, spending time as the team’s offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. When Anderson stepped down in 2007, Wojcik was interested in filling the vacancy. But the job went to Tillman, and Wojcik was forced to look elsewhere.
“I was certainly disappointed, but I also knew that there were things I needed to do to get the job next time and be the best possible coach I could be for the kids,” Wojcik said.
One of those things Wojcik felt he needed to do was to learn new coaching philosophies—something he hoped to achieve by working for a different program.
The Crimson alum ended up at Bowdoin, where he served for one season as an assistant before moving back to the Ivy League to work with Penn.
And this year, after spending two seasons under Penn coach Mike Murphy, Wojcik finally has the opportunity to serve as head coach of the program that gave him his start.
Wojcik takes over a Crimson team that failed to live up to its high expectations a season ago. After entering the spring ranked No. 12 in the country, Harvard faltered in conference play, finishing 2-4 and missing out on the inaugural four-team Ancient Eight tournament.
Harvard hopes that by hiring someone with as much Ivy League experience as Wojcik, the Crimson’s fate in conference play is destined to change.
“We are extremely delighted to welcome Chris as our new head men’s lacrosse coach,” Scalise said, according to gocrimson.com. “Chris is a tremendous recruiter, a superb offensive strategist, and his familiarity with the Ivy League will help our program succeed, both on a regional and a national level. As a Harvard alumnus and former captain of our program, Chris is dedicated to continue building a winning tradition here in Cambridge.”
Since he was hired, Wojcik has been contacting the Crimson players and explaining to them his plans and vision for Harvard lacrosse.
One potential change Wojcik plans to implement is to speed up the style of play.
“I’m probably looking to play a more up-tempo, more transition-oriented style of lacrosse,” Wojcik said. “The plan is to be the best that we can be and build a long-term winning program.”
Wojcik is the third head coach hired by Harvard this summer, none with more than three months’ experience as a head coach at the collegiate level. The new men’s and women’s water polo coach, Ted Minnis, comes to Cambridge after serving as head coach at the Castilleja School in California. Carl Junot, who was announced as the men’s soccer coach last week, served for over two months as the head coach at Tufts from this past April until June.
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