Eastlake High coach named one of top Americans in professional lacrosse

SAMMAMISH, Wash. – Nestled east of Seattle up on the tony Issaquah Plateau, Eastlake High School coach Chris O’Dougherty is about as far removed from the rough and tumble world of the National Lacrosse League as anyone.

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National Lacrosse League defenseman Chris O’Dougherty. (Photo: Vancouver Stealth)

But this week, the former Rutgers defender and defensive anchor of the NLL Vancouver Stealth, was named by Lacrosse Magazine as one of the top Americans in professional box lacrosse in its Breaking Box: The Top Americans in Indoor Lacrosse countdown.

“It’s humbling,” said O’Dougherty who at #11 on the list has toiled day-in and day-out to learn the indoor game played on turf spread out over the confines of a 200-foot by 85-foot NHL ice rink.

“I’ve been working hard at this,” he said. “The talent pool for Americans is definitely on the defensive side (of the floor). It makes me motivated to be a leader every day.”

O’Dougherty, 28, came into the National Lacrosse League in 2009 touted as a big, strong, athletic defender with superior stick skills honed on rugged New Jersey fields.

And he didn’t disappoint.

Since being selected in the sixth round (58th overall pick) of that year’s NLL Draft, the 6-1, 205 pound bruiser from Kinnelon, N.J. near the New York-Connecticut border, has muscled his way into the upper echelon of the box game. He was also selected 31st overall in that year’s Major League Lacrosse entry draft.

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Vancouver’s Chris O’Dougherty (right) takes on the Minnesota Swarm’s David Earl in a 2014 NLL game. (Photo: Vancouver Stealth)

“You really have to swallow your pride because I didn’t grow up playing the box game like the Canadians,” said O’Dougherty who has been to three NLL title games in the last five years including capturing the league’s Champions Cup trophy in 2010 while playing in Everett, Wash.

Like box, in the field game, which is played on high school turf all across Washington state, O’Dougherty also excelled.

This summer he was a part of the Denver Outlaws squad that captured its first Major League Lacrosse championship.

Since being named Eastlake boys head lacrosse coach in December of 2012, O’Dougherty has guided the Wolves to 20 wins over his first two seasons at the helm of the program including an 11-win campaign in 2014.

“When you walk on that field, if you don’t work hard it’s going to show,” O’Dougherty said. “As a player I pride myself on a blue collar work ethic,” he continued. “As a coach, if you can keep them grounded they have a much better shot at handling the challenges that they have in front of them.”

It’s that no nonsense, roll-up-your-sleeves and get to work attitude that has helped O’Dougherty distinguished himself with a number of coaching accomplishments including two Washington state high school championships as a Bellevue High School assistant and 2012 Washington state Coach of The Year honors by the Washington state chapter of US Lacrosse.

But for “OD” who captained his NCAA squad at Rutgers as a sophomore, junior and senior, there’s more to accomplish in his game including perhaps wearing a Team USA jersey and earning a captain’s letter in the box game.

“I always strive to the top,” he said. “I still feel like I have my best lacrosse days ahead of me.”

Look for O’Dougherty to continue to be a force to be reckoned with when his Vancouver Stealth visit rival Calgary Roughnecks to open their 2015 NLL season on Saturday, Jan. 3 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

To read the full Lacrosse Magazine story visit: Breaking Box: The Top Americans in Indoor Lacrosse.

About Lacrosse in Washington State
Lacrosse has over 100 years of history in Washington state with clubs playing in the early 1900s and high schools now in their fourth decade of state competition.  With Native American origins, lacrosse is one of the oldest organized sports on the continent and today is considered the fastest growing sport in America.  In Washington state, some 4,000 student-athletes attending over 200 high schools play prep lacrosse, while another 6,000 play lacrosse at the youth, adult and collegiate club levels throughout the state. For more information on high school lacrosse in Washington state visit http://www.WashingtonHSLAX.com.

www.WashingtonHSLAX.com

~ Mike McQuaid, Sports Information Director, US Lacrosse – Washington State Chapter

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