Coming off a lacrosse season in which his team scored 10.94 goals per game, won the Patriot League Championship and reached the national semifinals, then-Loyola offensive coordinator Ryan Moran was in a solid position in his coaching career.
The 2016 campaign was the second for the former University of Maryland All-American midfielder on Charley Toomey's Greyhounds staff. Those two seasons followed six he spent as an assistant at his alma mater, which followed three more on the staff at Navy. His success as both a coach and recruiter left him in a position in which he could be a bit more selective, in terms of where his career would go next.
"When this opportunity was presented," Moran, 34, said in a
Glenn Clark Radio
interview June 30, "my initial thoughts were, ‘Well, I'll explore it, but I have a great job; I work at a great university; I love who I work with, so it's going to have to be something really special and unique for me to want to leave and take it on.'"
That opportunity was the chance to become the third head coach in UMBC lacrosse history, replacing the legendary Don Zimmerman. It was an opportunity Moran, ultimately, couldn't pass up.
"Getting acclimated with the university, meeting the people that are on campus, seeing their support and commitment to the student-athletes, and then really just getting on campus and seeing how beautiful of a campus it really is," Moran said. "That really convinced me that well, if I can get kids on campus, I think they'll like what they see. I think they'll like what they hear, and I think we can generate [some buzz] if we can get some good kids and some quality players, quality student-athletes who want to be part of this. It really convinced me that this would be a tremendous opportunity and one that we should take seriously."
Moran was introduced at UMBC June 22, becoming a head coach for the first time in his career. He inherited a program with a history of success, but one that has had only one winning season in the last seven years and hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since 2009.
During the same time frame, many of the other Division I programs in Maryland have either sustained success or taken large strides. Five of the seven reached the NCAA tournament this year and four (Maryland, Loyola, Towson, Navy) made it to the NCAA quarterfinals. Having coached at three of those programs in the last decade, Moran knows exactly what he's up against as he takes over in Catonsville, Md.
"I've got a good glimpse at what makes each one of those programs successful," the Setauket, N.Y., native said. "I think that provides an opportunity for me to take absolute lessons into this program, but then also to see what's working for them to help me find some [of my] own unique angles that we can maybe address and attack and maybe separate ourselves from them as well. Knowing all of those teams certainly helps and puts me in a position where I feel like I [can] give a good road map to this program and hopefully kind of have some success moving forward."
As UMBC has struggled in recent years, some in lacrosse circles have labeled the program a "sleeping giant," largely due to geography and size. The belief is rooted in the number of talented prep players coming from Maryland, and also because UMBC seems to have the facilities and amenities required to attract those kids -- if they have the right coach at the helm. Moran doesn't dispute the "sleeping giant" possibility, but knows there's significant work to be done for said giant to awaken.
"I think you got to look to the area. It's Baltimore. And it's a Division I lacrosse program in Baltimore. I think, without a doubt, it could be that," Moran said. "But I think it also needs to be cultivated into that. That's part of the blueprint, part of the road map that I have is to try to be engaging within the student-body community and try to make sure that, on campus, our program, our players reflect a reflection of what the rest of the students and the university can be proud of and be people that they want to support."
Issue 223: July 2016
For more from Moran, listen to the full interview here: