Assistants Step Forward in Starsia's Absence
May 10, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Dom Starsia has leaned heavily on Marc Van Arsdale and John Walker all season, and UVa’s head men’s lacrosse coach will do so again this week.
Van Arsdale, who was promoted to associate head coach in the fall of 2006, has been the No. 1 assistant for most of Starsia’s distinguished tenure at Virginia. He spent five seasons as head coach at the University of Pennsylvania before returning to UVa in July 2001 for a second stint on Starsia’s staff.
Walker, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, joined the UVa program as an assistant before the current academic year, and he’ll help Van Arsdale run the team while Starsia is out of town for his father’s funeral.
In the first round of the NCAA tournament, No. 1 seed UVa hosts Mount St. Mary’s at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Klöckner Stadium.
“I would tell you that Marc Van Arsdale is one of the most extraordinary men that I know,” Starsia said. “John Walker is a wonderful young guy, just doing a terrific job. So the team is in good hands. I have no doubt about that.”
Starsia’s father, Dominic Joseph Starsia Jr., passed away Friday in Ivy. A wake will be held Tuesday on Long Island, N.Y., and Mr. Starsia will be buried there Wednesday.
A World War II veteran and a retired New York City policeman, Mr. Starsia was 86.
Dom Starsia said Sunday night that he planned to leave Charlottesville on Monday afternoon and probably wouldn’t be back until after UVa’s practice Wednesday.
“I told this to the team today: There are things you have to take care of in your life, and right now this is a family time for me,” Starsia said.
His father had “been with us since February here at the house, so you feel like you know it’s going to happen, and you think you’re prepared for it, and I would tell you that I simply found that I was not,” Starsia said.
“So I was fortunate to have family close by, and we leaned on each other, and so much of what I do is connected to the lacrosse piece of my life. These players are almost like family. And so there was a big hole there that needed to be filled, and I can tell you, the players may have been looking to getting on the field [for practice Sunday afternoon], but I was greatly looking forward to seeing them and getting out there myself.
“I lost my mom back in ’79, and I feel like with this here, you’re really turning a page in your life. We’ll just figure it out, and I’ve got some good people I can lean on.”
For much of his coaching career, he’s arrived at the office early in the morning. After his father moved in with him, however, Starsia adjusted his schedule.
“I found myself at home most mornings, taking care of things here,” Starsia said. “I got into the office after lunch most every day, an hour or two before practice, and got going. And we go on to finish 14-1 and play our way to the No. 1 seed.”
It had been a difficult week for Starsia and his program, but he allowed himself a small joke.
“I told Marc and John on any number of occasions that I’m never coming back in the office in the morning again,” Starsia said. “I have learned a new way to do my job.”