By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
In 2005, Mike Scerbo left his former job at Ohio State University to come to Pittsburgh in order to take over as only the second-ever head coach of Duquesne lacrosse. Since then, Scerbo has made a number of lifelong connections thanks to what he calls a “wonderful blessing.”
“Coming to Pittsburgh was a wonderful blessing. My life has changed on a personal level by moving here,” Scerbo said. “I met my wife who’s a Pittsburgher and we got married, had two wonderful children, so to compare my time at Ohio State to now, I’ve had a number of wonderful things happen in my life.”
While getting married and having children are two fantastic achievements off the pitch, Scerbo has accumulated some quality accomplishments on it as well.
In his first season as head coach, the Red & Blue went 11-5 and saw five players earn Atlantic 10 All-Conference honors. And just two years ago, he led his squad to a 14-4 record – its best under his watch.
“Everybody understands that lacrosse can be a successful program, and that it fits the profile of the university,” Scerbo said. “We’ve had some success at the beginning of my arrival, and it has risen drastically over the years.”
The Oswego University graduate prides himself on that past success, but believes his players can accomplish more than just being good at lacrosse.
“When I was at Ohio State, the mentality was ‘sports and athletics first,’” he said. “Here, I’ve learned mostly through my [players], that you can be both successful on the field and in the classroom. The team is carrying over a 3.9 GPA, which is a pretty big accomplishment.”
That 3.9 cumulative GPA Scerbo mentioned earned three former Dukes (Casey Briglia, Melissa Hanson and Michelle Morris) and two current seniors (Elizabeth Lowry and Kristen Newbrough) a spot on the 2015 Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association’s Division I Academic Honor Roll.
Lowry, who started all 18 games last season, is thankful for Scerbo’s ability to push them both on and off the field. She states that his multifaceted philosophy is what gives her teammates the right preparation for post-grad life.
“He has taught me so much about the game of lacrosse and has pushed me to be the best player and teammate I can be,” Lowry said. “[A] coaching philosophy of his is for each player to get a good education and prepare them for a career beyond lacrosse.”
Senior Jenna Bishop, the Dukes’ goaltender, said many of her positive attributes come from Scerbo’s optimistic point-of-view.
“He has helped me become a better communicator and also has given me a competitive drive,” Bishop said. “I don’t think I would be the person I am today, or even the player I am today, without having Scerbo as my head coach.”
While both Scerbo and his team understand how off-field issues like academics are incredibly important, he still believes in achieving one specific goal that he set for himself 10 years ago.
“[Winning the A-10 Championship] is the one thing that hasn’t changed,” Scerbo said. “Our first step in the process is to become the No. 1 team in the Atlantic 10 conference. That’s our major goal, and it won’t change until we achieve it.”