Lacrosse coach stresses team culture

Before+the+opening+face-off+against+Highland+Park+on+May+6%2C+Justin+Georgacakis%2C+head+boys+lacrosse+coach%2C++talks+with+his+players.+Georgacakis+has+implemented+various+team+bonding+exercises+such+as+paintball.+Photo+by+Alex+Garibashvily

Before the opening face-off against Highland Park on May 6, Justin Georgacakis, head boys lacrosse coach, talks with his players. Georgacakis has implemented various team bonding exercises such as paintball. Photo by Alex Garibashvily

Drew Mutchnik, News Editor

Dodging paintballs and darting between obstacles, Justin Georgacakis, head boys lacrosse coach, often gets targeted during the lacrosse program’s annual paintball outing. Georgacakis, also known as “Geo,” tries to foster bonds between teammates outside of the sport.

“I think that the closer they are, the better experience [they have], the more memories they create, whether we win or lose,” Georgacakis said.

Georgacakis has coached in the lacrosse program since 2007, and tries to constantly learn from other coaches and adapt their methods to improve the environment and culture of the program, he said.

“Some people might look at our program from the outside and see it like kids are goofing around, … but we let them be themselves.” Georgacakis said.

Senior Sean Finkel said in a phone interview that in addition to team building, Georgacakis also often speaks to the team about character and leadership building.

The team is encouraged to participate in community service projects, Finkel said. This year, the lacrosse program assisted the Hunger Free Northbrook program by raising money and hosting a remote pumpkin carving contest.

Georgacakis and Finkel also worked together to create a recycling program that donates students’ extra lunch food to the Northfield Township Food Pantry.

Students can donate packaged, non-perishable food items they do not eat in bins around the school. The program also collects fruit for the Plant Science students to use in their compost.

According to Finkel, “[Georgacakis] focuses on us as people instead of just as lacrosse players.”
In past years, Georgacakis implemented a “study table,” where players who are academically ineligible to play meet after school twice a week in place of practice.

Georgacakis will often sit at the study table with players and make sure they get their homework done to improve their grades.

As of May 21, the team is ranked fourth in the Central Suburban League according to MaxPreps. The team has a record of 7-4.

Before home games, Georgacakis often writes three expectations on the whiteboard: excellent effort, relentless attack and love.

“Probably one of our biggest standards is we try to tell guys to play for love, love of the team, love of the game, rather than, ‘I hate that school [we are competing against]’,” said Georgacakis. “That angers me. It’s ‘play because you love these guys’, and I think that’s kind of unique to us here.”