Dave Slafkosky made it through one coaching change at Maryland. The longtime Maryland lacrosse assistant couldn't survive two.
But after a couple months on edge, a new chapter in the life of one of the sport's top defensive minds is about to begin: As a guidance counselor and lacrosse coach at Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore.
"I can't say enough," Slafkosky said today, just a few hours after signing a contract with the private school. "I think Mount St. Joe stepped up and as [former Maryland coach Dick Edell] said, they saw an opportunity and it worked out for me."
Slafkosky was an assistant under Edell at both Army and Maryland, and he remained the Terrapins' defensive coordinator throughout Dave Cottle's nine-year tenure. But when Cottle was ousted in May, Slafkosky found himself looking for work for the first time in decades.
Regardless of the criticism levied against Cottle, there was never reason to believe Slafkosky was a source of contention for fans. His unit yielded only 8.4 goals a game this season, and it figures to be just as good next season with all three close defense starters and pole Brian Farrell back.
Nonetheless, change is part of coaching. For most, there is far less than 27 years between switching jobs.
In that way, Slafkosky was fortunate. But there was still uncertainty about the future.
Two high school jobs attracted his attention. Archbishop Spalding and Mount St. Joseph both had openings, but neither had a full-time job available. A spring of coaching lacrosse was only a part-time gig.
But things soon changed. Two of Slafkosky's sons --- Kevin and Alex --- played at Mount St. Joseph, so he had more than a passing familiarity with the school.
"Luckily, my dad is a staunch Catholic, and when he heard Kevin wanted to go to Mount St. Joe, he said 'I'll split the costs with you,'" Slafkosky said. "That made a little bit more sense."
Things broke right again for the man known around College Park simply as Slaf. He talked with Washington College coach Jeff Shirk about serving as an assistant at the Division III school. But the 140-mile roundtrip commute to the Eastern Shore was daunting, even if it would have kept him in the college game.
Mount St. Joseph soon came through. The school wanted to create a position that emphasized guidance counseling --- with coaching thrown in.
Slafkosky might not have a traditional background for the primary work, but coaching for more than three decades at the college level provides a different but significant perspective for the job.
"I know a month ago, they didn't have anything," said Slafkosky, who earned a graduate degree in counseling from C.W. Post while he was working at Army. "Certain people saw a chance to get me and I'm kind of shocked, but I'm glad. I don't know if I could have been walking around two or three months ago without a job. Or six or seven months. It could be longer at my age."
Thanks to a school close to home, he won't have to worry about that at all.