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Boys' Latin's Bob Shriver Leaves Lasting Legacy On, Off Lacrosse Field

May 15, 2015

Bob Shriver won't pinpoint his most memorable moment in 40 years of coaching lacrosse at Boys' Latin.

That would simply be an injustice to the legion of players, coaches and parents he touched during those years.

Issue 209: Bob Shriver
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Boys' Latin

Instead, Shriver, who is retiring at the end of the 2015 season, simply wants to remember the everyday connections with his program. Next season, Brian Farrell, who played for Shriver and graduated in 2006, will take over the venerable program.

For Shriver, there was no single factor that led to retirement. Instead, the decision just felt right.

"It's a good time," said Shriver, who was inducted into the US Lacrosse's Greater Baltimore Chapter's Hall of Fame in 1998. "Forty is a nice, round number. I am going to continue to work at the school, so I'll stay involved."

Shriver is part of the fabric of the Boys' Latin community. He was a standout player and graduated from Boys' Latin in 1969. He then went on to become an All-American midfielder and two-time captain at Washington College. He was inducted into the Washington College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.  

After playing professional box lacrosse, Shriver eventually returned to Boys' Latin in the spring of 1975 as an assistant lacrosse coach for four years and as a science teacher. In 1980, he became head coach and eventually led Boys' Latin to its first Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference title in 19 years with a 7-4 victory against Loyola Blakefield. From there, the Lakers became the most highly regarded program in the nation.

Shriver led the Lakers to state titles in 1988, 1997, 2002, 2006 and 2014. Overall, Boys' Latin has qualified for 15 title game appearances since 1980. The 1997, 2006 and 2014 teams were undefeated and crowned national high school champions. The 2006 championship was especially memorable, because Shriver's son, David, was part of that team.

"I clearly relish the time I coached my son," Shriver said. "His senior year, we had a great team that went undefeated. We ended up as the number one high school team in the country. I am very proud of him, obviously. But I've been remarkably lucky to coach so many great kids and be with such great coaches."

Going forward, Shriver intends to spend some time on the golf course and attend more games at Penn State, where David is a coach. David Shriver has certainly carried valuable lessons he learned from his father as a man and coach.

One thing David Shriver tries to take from his father is all the work and love he puts into his job. There has not been a day that has gone by all these years that his father has not tried his very best for Boys' Latin and its lacrosse program, David Shriver said.

One story that stands out to David Shriver was when he was playing lacrosse at Georgetown University and the Hoyas lost to Loyola University. Loyola's goalie, Jake Hagelin, was a former teammate of David Shriver's at Boys' Latin and came up big during that game.

"After the game, my dad said, 'Tough one on you guys, but how good was Jake?'" David Shriver said. "That is just how he is -- he has such a love for all guys who have gone through the program, and that is certainly one thing I will always take away from him. He also feels the same way about all the staff members he has been fortunate enough to work with through the years."

David Shriver said his father has always carried remarkable affection for his players, and they serve as a source of pride long after they leave Boys' Latin.  

"There isn't a day that goes by where he is talking about a 'BL guy' and how unbelievable he is doing," David Shriver said. "You should see him on college lacrosse Saturdays -- doesn't matter who's playing who -- he always is checking box scores and telling people how excited he is for 'a Laker' doing things well."

David Shriver also credits his mother, Jasmine Shriver, in keeping the family strong. David Shriver's older brother, Bobby, was born with Down Syndrome. As a result, David said, his mother has devoted much of her time to Bobby as well as working on behalf of children with special needs and their families.

For years, Jasmine Shriver has been an advocate for other special needs kids and families, and she has continued to make sure Bobby Shriver lives as close to a normal life as possible.

"Through her sacrifice, my dad has continued to do what he loves, and that is coach lacrosse," David Shriver said. "She is the one who stays at home each day to make sure my brother gets to and from work, all of which would conflict with what my dad has to do every day.

"Now, when my dad is home, he is about as caring a father as there is to my brother, Bobby. Both my parents have done an extraordinary job raising and taking care of Bobby. And I have learned so much about care, compassion, patience and love from them both with the way they have parented my brother."

Shriver's legacy at Boys' Latin is valued by the school's leadership.

"He has devoted his life to our lacrosse and athletic program and to the entire school," Boys' Latin athletic director Michael Thomas said. "I have always maintained that his success is not derived from his resounding exuberance and passion for the game -- nor is it his deep understanding of schematics and Xs and Os. Ask his kids, and they will highlight his ability to teach the game. Ask his colleagues, and fellow coaches, they will also identify his singular ability to teach."

Shriver's leadership has inspired more than 30 players to eventually become coaches at the high school, college and professional levels.

Loyola head coach Charley Toomey played two years for Shriver and graduated in 1986. Toomey said he distinctly remembers "the shriek of Coach Shriver's voice upon that mistake that everyone one of us has made." When Toomey heads back to Boys' Latin, he smiles whenever he hears that raised voice, all the way from the other sideline.

"I would not be where I am today without having Coach Shriver in my life," Toomey said. "I had the opportunity to attend BL for two years, and it was Coach Shriver who fueled the passion for me to love the game of lacrosse and to play it at the highest level possible. I have tried to emulate some of Coach Shriver's traits -- his ability to coach kids very hard, but to have them understand that he cares for them as individuals."  

Ned Webster, who graduated from Boys' Latin in 1994, is now the head lacrosse coach at the University of California. Even now, Webster often finds himself using a familiar Shriver refrain: "If you're standing still, you're doing something wrong."

Webster said one reason Shriver is so effective as a coach is because he is able to teach and demonstrate the fundamentals so well. And he always expected the most out of his players.

"It was rare if our teams were not fired up for a game, because he was such a powerful motivator," Webster said. "His passion was contagious. There are a couple pre-game speeches of his that I still remember, maybe not so much the words he used, but the effect they had on me, the feelings, the chills, the fire he could create. When someone speaks from the heart without reservation, they command your eyes and ears, and Coach Shriver had, and still has, a special way of doing that."

Stan Ross, who graduated from Boys' Latin in 1991, went on to have a stellar career at Loyola. His coaching stops have included Princeton, Towson, Butler and Navy. 

Ross is now the head coach at Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he teaches many of the same lessons he learned at Boys' Latin.  

"I am so happy for Coach Shriver and his family that he is hanging up his whistle, but I am also saddened that such an inspirational coach is leaving the game," Ross said. "I am not sure if I have ever given him the proper thanks he deserves for the impact he has had on my life."

Bob Shriver, who will continue to teach at Boys' Latin, said he would be interested in using his experience as a coach to do color commentary for televised lacrosse games. His experience with the game would certainly engage the audience. And, of course, he will still be somewhere around the Boys' Latin lacrosse field, as a fan.

"I love the game of lacrosse," Shriver said. "I don't see that changing. I'll be around.

Issue 209: May 2015