Hey Coach! – A few minutes with Dejon Hush
Dejon Hush was born in New York and raised in New Jersey. You know who he is. You can’t miss him when he is patrolling the sideline. He is in charge at the up and coming Lake Washington Lacrosse Club after stops at both islands, Mercer and Bainbridge. He has a big happy-go-lucky smile and he also has the big booming voice. So, how did the kid who played soccer, basketball and lacrosse at Rutgers Prep in New Jersey, and also attended the University of Michigan by the way, become one of the leaders in high school lacrosse in this state? Walax.com wanted to find out the answer to that question and more, so we tracked him down and asked him about his journey.
Thanks for taking a couple of minutes, when did you first start playing lacrosse, what position and what was the first stick that you used? I transferred to a private school, Rutgers Prep, in the tenth grade. I had never even seen the game played before that. My high school coach saw me during orientation and asked if I had ever played, I said no and he said I would like it. That winter he helped me to get my first stick. It was a white Super light 2+2. It was the first head with a 2 inch side wall. It was white and strung traditional with a white aluminum shaft. I have always been a defender both in high school and in college.
Do you have a favorite memory from your high school playing days? As a matter of fact, my first year playing lacrosse, Rutgers Prep won the State Prep Championship of New Jersey. I worked my self into the starting line up by the end of the season. It was game on from there on.
Actually, I remember first meeting you at a men’s club practice when you first came out to Seattle but I don’t know the story of how you got involved in coaching high school lacrosse. So how did that all come about?
I did come to one Coopers/College Inn practice, I was happy to have a place to play lacrosse. I never thought I would play again after moving to Seattle. At that practice I do remember everyone was making fun of the one young, non-married guy and thus prompted my move over to the Blue Collar (which was full of young and non-married guys) and stayed there until I started KAVU.
As for coaching, a friend of mine knew Harry Ostrander’s wife and at the time Harry was selling lacrosse gear out of his garage. He was selling gear to a fella by the name of Web Hutchins who was a teacher at Franklin HS in Seattle. Web was looking to start a program at Franklin. Harry did the introductions and the rest is history. That was back in 1998.
Have you coached any other sports? I have also coached youth basketball and I will try just about any sport. I love to compete, whatever the challenge.
Have you developed any pre-game superstitions since you have been coaching? I have said a prayer every game since I started playing the game. My high school coach did it and I have carried it everywhere I’ve gone. My favorite part is when the kids I coach can say it without me.
Do you have a favorite drill? One of my favorite drills currently is the Mason Dixon line which is a 3v2 into a 4v3; everyone gets a ton of shots and defenders get to play offense. (Maybe we can draw that one up in the Coaches Corner).
If I was to ask your players what your favorite or most common saying was (non-expletive of course) what would they say? They would probably say, “You’ve got to hook it to cook it.” All proceeds from this mighty saying go to a childhood friend of mine, Matt Dupuis. Thanks Matt!
Now that you have been coaching lacrosse in the area for a while, do you have a favorite memory or game that sticks out? As a coach, it has to be my first state championship with Mercer Island in 2001. No one thought it was possible to beat the reigning 8-time state champion Bainbridge. Coach Jack Visco said in the pre-game that we would need to score 15 points in order to win and we did. We needed each and every one of those points to win.
On the flip side, is there a game that still haunts you that you wish you could go back and change? I’ve been around a while so I have a few. When I was at Franklin HS in 1999, we lost to a first year Maple Valley team. In 2001, when I was coaching at Mercer Island, we lost at Bainbridge after being up 4 or 5 goals. It was a golden opportunity that slipped through our hands. When I was at Bainbridge, we lost a semi-final game to Issaquah in overtime, thanks Nick Tierney. Some games just burn your britches. I have been fortunate enough to be apart of so many high stakes contests.
What do you think has changed the most since you started playing lacrosse? The game has totally changed since I started playing. It has become a more physical and faster, 1 on 1 orientated game. In my day, it was all about quick sticks and off ball movement. Shoot, most of our pockets back then looked more like tennis racquets.
Do you have any tips to help a player make varsity? Play other sports. You must understand what it’s like to work hard to get on the field or court and that will carry over into your work ethic and competitive nature.
Do you do anything in the off-season to get ready for the next spring season (coaches conferences, books, video, etc.)? I coach the Kirkland youth fall team as well as a group of Canadian field lacrosse players. I feel I can learn as much from them as they can from me, and it allows me to have smaller focused goals and to be creative with my coaching style, drills etc…
With all of your coaching experience, what is the best advice you can give to a new or young coach just getting started? Start simple, have small goals and trust your system. Full field is nice but the small building block principles are much more important. Doing things the right way, in teaching the kids, and the way you are perceived, go a long way in our community.
What about some advice for a parent coaching a youth team? Keep it simple, talk less and let the kids run more. Give the kids guidelines and teach them how to play lacrosse and not just lacrosse plays.
If you could be an assistant coach for a game, which College program/head coach would you want to work for? Syracuse and John Desko, a couple of years back when he didn’t make the NCAA’s , the next year he switched jobs of his defensive and offensive coordinators ( I am obsessed with Man-up offense), I was sold. I also like his freelancing, high energy style of play. (I asked Coach Fortier from Issaquah this one a few weeks ago and he picked Coach K at Duke). Coach Fortier, likes a more disciplined plug and play style of lacrosse.
I want to shift focus for a couple of minutes to the league as a whole, what is the WHSBLA doing right as a high school league? We are growing faster than quality coaches and refs can be found or educated. Our board has done a good job in maintaining order in a lot of turnover and growth.
Where would you rate WA lax on the West Coast? Top, middle or needs work? True west coast? We tend to get lumped with all states west of the Mississippi, which is unfair. Colorado is the top then California then Texas. Our players that are getting on the field are doing great things but we are behind in the quantity of quality players to those 3 states.
What does Washington lacrosse need to improve on to get us on the National Map? I think the players have been doing it. Kids like Drew Snider, Bryan and Dayton Gilbreath, Landon Carr and Sam Snow are getting onto the field for D- 1 colleges and making an impact.
What is the biggest challenge for Washington lacrosse moving forward? The big challenge that I see is players having the grandeur of D-1 and the recruiting process. We need more kids to see the quality of education that the D-3 schools can give you and not be disappointed with not getting that ever prized D-1 look or phone call. When we have an kids at every level of lacrosse showing what they can do, everyone will have to stop, look and listen to Washington Lacrosse.
Do you see a day in the near future when there are multiple DI, DII and DIII lacrosse schools on the West Coast, maybe even a PAC-12 league? I believe D-2 will continue to expand on the west coast because it is that sort of niche league, money for athletics but not a D-1 budget. As far as D-1, I think it would take a very progressive Athletic Director from a PAC -12 school to see it as a way to attract east coast kids to a west coast college and diversify their student population.
How about some rapid fire questions and then we will let you go? What is your favorite college team to watch? I love run and gun lacrosse and last year I was very impressed with Colgate. They would never need a shot clock. Also, Robert Morris was scoring almost 20 goals a game every game pretty impressive.
What is your favorite non-lacrosse activity? I love Video Games, sports specifically, FIFA, NBA2K2 (competition again).
Your favorite band(s) growing up were? That would be Tribe Called Quest and Blues Traveler (representing New Jersey and chubby guys alike).
Best concert you have attended? There used to be a show called the Horde, like a lollapalooza-type deal. It was Blues Traveler, Dave Mathews, Rusted Root, Lenny Kravitz, Jamarquai. Then when I moved out west there is one outside of the bay area called Reggae on the River. It was an amazing 3 day festival of music, a must see.
What is on the IPod (or Walkman in some cases)? My truck still rolls with a tape deck and I have a mixed tape by Kid Capri and DJ Muggs.
What is your favorite team - Mariners, Sounders or Seahawks (or other)? I grew up a Giants and Mets fan but Seattle is my home now so I always want the home team to do well, makes everyone in the city happier (amen).
Your favorite part of the Pacific Northwest is? The City. I live in the city. It’s big enough to have everything available to you, music, film, food, etc. but small enough you know people at the grocery store in your neighborhood or local watering hole.
Your recent favorite vacation/trip was? My most recent trip was this summer when I took Team Washington to Baltimore for a week to play in two of the top tournaments in the nation, in 100 degree weather. I flew back for a day then I flew out to Orlando to coach the US Lacrosse Senior Showcase (like the McDonalds all American game for Basketball) some of the top players in the country. It was 110 degrees for 4 days. Then on the way back I stopped in Alabama and took my one year old son to meet his great grandfather who is 97 years old which was pretty cool, and it was over 100 degrees. Needless to say, experience was amazing and the heat was forgettable.
Let’s finish up with a prediction for the 2013 high school season, which teams are in the DI finals? The big 4 remain at the top, I do believe there is a bit of a shake up and Issaquah and Bainbridge find their ways back into the championship games. Like last year I believe there will be a lot of so called underdogs winning upset matchups on any given night throughout the season.
Thank you Coach Hush for taking a few minutes to speak with us. Good luck next season.