Get to Know Three Great Tiger Coaches
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 06/18/2014
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Next Tuesday night the Towson University athletic department is hosting a Coaches Caravan event at the Orioles game. Click here to register for the event. The department did this last year, and it was a great success.

Towson Football Head Coach Rob Ambrose, Men's Lacrosse Head Coach Shawn Nadelen, and Men's and Women's Basketball head coaches Pat Skerry and Niki Reid Geckeler will be at a pre-game gathering to give an update on their respective programs and talk about the program in general. Afterwards, everyone will have a chance to watch the Orioles take on the Chicago White Sox.

As I go about town, folks are always asking me what our coaches of the big three men's sports are like. As we get ready for the event, I thought I would give you a brief synopsis of what these three men are like.

Ambrose, Skerry and Nadelen are all completely different. They are also all very much alike.  I will try to explain. Each goes about his job with extreme passion and dedication. Each has also had success early on in their tenures. Coach Ambrose took his team to the FCS playoffs in just his third year as head coach at Towson. Coach Skerry took his basketball team to the postseason also in his third season at the helm. Coach Nadelen has them both beat, as he took the Tigers men’s lax team to  the NCAA playoffs in just his second year as head coach.

Getting to know Rob Ambrose
Of the three, I have known Rob the longest. We have known each other since he was a player for Towson in the late '80s and early '90s. As I have said many times, he was my favorite assistant football coach at Towson, and trust me, there have been many great, great assistants in this program. But Rob always had that “it” factor you just couldn’t put your finger on.

When he became Towson’s head coach before the 2009 season, many were upset Gordy Combs had been let go. Those of us who knew and worked for Gordy loved him dearly. But when the search was on, my feeling was you offer this position to one guy and one guy only: Rob Ambrose. If Rob said no, then you move on. Luckily for us, he didn’t say no.

The “it” factor he had as an assistant multiplied when he became head coach. Coach Ambrose is intense, extremely organized, and gets the most out of his players. He also must be a great guy to work for because he has had very little turnover on his coaching staff in five years. Rob is also great with the media, because he doesn’t talk “coachspeak.”  He will tell you exactly what is on his mind when you ask him a question. His love for his alma mater shines through always. We are lucky to have him.

Getting to know Pat Skerry
Skerry took over a program that was, to say the least, in turmoil. Not only was the talent not what it should be, but the program’s APR numbers were atrocious. However, from the moment he was hired, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work. What he has done in three years is as Coach Ambrose loves to say is “awesome.” The Tigers had one win in Coach Skerry’s first season, and in this past year - his third in charge - the Tigers set a school record with 25 wins at the DI level.

The man lives and breathes basketball 24 hours a day. No one will ever out-work Pat on the recruiting trail, and that hard work has certainly paid off. With SECU Arena opening this past season, if the Tigers were winning at the pace they were before Pat got here, attendance would not have been good, and the inaugural season could have been a disaster from the gate. Instead, the Tigers were an exciting basketball team, and the school set a season attendance record. Towson could have gone in many directions when they hired a head coach three years ago; we are very lucky the choice was Pat.

Getting to know Shawn Nadelen
Much like Gordy, those of us who knew and worked with Tony Seaman loved the man. He had taken the Tigers' lacrosse team to the Final Four in 2001, and his teams always played hard. But when the time came to replace Tony, the administration didn’t look far. They picked Tony’s top assistant, Shawn Nadelen.

We don’t hold it against Shawn that he went to Hopkins; he was young when he made that choice. But the folks at JHU were thrilled by how good Shawn was as a player. Well, he is also that good as a coach. He is not as demonstrative on the sidelines as Rob and Pat, but you can just feel the intensity burning through him.

If I was asked to sum up Shawn in one word, it would be “gentleman." He has done a great job in getting the Tigers back to the NCAA playoffs and making them a force in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in all three of his years as head coach. He has hired two great assistant coaches, and it is a staff that is young, energetic, and getting ready to take this program back to the the upper echelon of Division I lacrosse. You could see that this season as many of the best players on the team were freshmen and sophomores.

When a school makes a coaching change, it is very rare they hire an assistant from the previous staff. Towson made that rare choice, and we are lucky they did.

So please come on out on Tuesday night and get to know these three great men who are leading our student-athletes to success on and, even more importantly, off  the field.

Until next week, hit’em straight.


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