Ex-lacrosse star now coaching two pro teams

One of Tom Slate's jobs was coaching the now defunct MLL San Francisco Dragons in 2008.
One of Tom Slate's jobs was coaching the now defunct MLL San Francisco Dragons in 2008.
Posted: February 09, 2011

It would be difficult to find anybody as immersed in the sport of lacrosse as Tom Slate. A 1992 graduate of Springfield, Delaware County, Slate has been a successful player on the high school, college, and professional levels.

He is a businessman whose company revolves around the sport. In addition, Slate is the defensive coordinator for the Wings of the indoor National Lacrosse League.

Last month, he added another title: head coach of the Denver Outlaws, one of the six teams that make up the outdoor Major League Lacrosse league. The others are Boston, Rochester, Long Island, Toronto, and Annapolis, Md.

Slate was promoted after serving as associate head coach and defensive coordinator last year.

The job will take him away from the area only on weekends, and he'll continue to serve as president and CEO of Lacrosse Evolution, which provides training and instruction in lacrosse to professionals as well as girls and boys ages 7 and up. He has facilities in Downingtown and King of Prussia.

"I'm fortunate to have a loving and caring wife and family," said Slate, who is the father of three young children.

Slate's new title as head coach is actually an old one. He is a former boys' head coach at Downingtown East, winning a state title in 2007. Slate became the first person in Pennsylvania to win a state title as a player (1992 for Springfield-Delco) and as a coach.

In 2008 he was the head coach of the San Francisco Dragons of the MLL, but the team folded after that season. The three previous seasons he was an assistant for the Barrage, which won MLL titles in 2006 and 2007, and folded before the 2009 season.

There are 16 professional lacrosse teams, 10 in NLL and six in MLL, and Slate has coaching jobs with two of them.

"I feel very fortunate to be coaching in both leagues," Slate said.

After graduating from West Chester University, Slate played professionally for the Wings, winning championships in 1998 and 2001. He also played for the Baltimore Bay Hawks of the MLL.

By all accounts, Slate's even demeanor is one of his strengths as a coach.

"He's pretty calm and actually keeps his wits about him," said Ryan Cranston, a West Chester Henderson graduate who will be playing for Slate in Denver. "That doesn't mean if you mess up he won't tell you about it but he won't run up and down the sidelines, going crazy."

Cranston has insight into Slate. A three-time all-American and 2008 graduate of Lynchburg University, Cranston played for Slate in San Francisco. In addition, Slate is Cranston's boss at Lacrosse Evolution.

"He is interested in what everybody thinks," Cranston said. "He leads well by what he believes in, and is always asking other guys for their opinion."

During the outdoor season, which begins in mid-May and runs until late August, Slate will usually travel to Denver or wherever the Outlaws are playing that weekend. Most games are on Saturday, and as a rule he arrives the Friday before, conducts a practice that day, coaches the game on Saturday, and returns home that Sunday.

Unlike other professional sports, the players have jobs during the week.

Slate replaced Brian Reese as head coach. Reese was serving as the general manager and head coach and decided to concentrate on the one job. He is working for a Denver team that is owned by Broncos owner Pat Bowlen.

"I can't say enough about the organization," Slate said. "I am very excited to be the head coach and look forward to the challenges it brings."

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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