Central region boys directors Jamie Archer and Mark Ferrito have been connected for some time. When Archer joined the New York State Regional Championships (NYSRC), he knew exactly who he wanted working with him. “Mark and I have been close through the years,” Archer said. “I always trusted what he offered so I just asked him and he jumped on board right away.”
Archer grew up a baseball kid, but things changed in middle school. “I started [playing lacrosse] in eighth grade,” Archer said. “I used to play baseball and I started lacrosse because of my brother.” He began to play after listening to parts of Syracuse’s 1983 National Championship win on the radio with his brother. Archer would go on to play lacrosse for the Orange a few years later.
Archer graduated from Syracuse and became next in line at his alma mater, Nottingham High School, as his former coach prepared to step down. “I was interested in being a phys ed teacher,” Archer said. “[My former coach] said ‘if you have any interest in phys ed and an interest in coaching, I’ll step down,’ it was about his time for retirement.” After five years there, Archer moved on to Jamesville-Dewitt where he worked as an assistant for three years before taking over as the coach in 2006. His teams have seen much success including multiple state titles. “Our first state championship was kind of a big deal, we had always been knocking on the door and for me to get it early in my career was a good thing for the program,” Archer said. “My second one, which was probably the best feeling I’ve had on a lacrosse field, was our 2016 State Championship team with my son being involved.”
Getting involved in the NYSRC was a no-brainer for Archer and it reminded him of the old Empire State Games. “I thought it was a great plan and [Mike Winkoff] runs a great gym, he’s very organized and he sold it,” Archer said. “The Empire State Games were always a big deal around here. To bring that back in this format piqued my interest.” The NYSRC will be a big deal again this year as it will attempt to bring back a sense of normalcy for its participants. “I think it’s a time right now that kids need, especially with everything that’s going on,” Archer said. “Just the sense of normalcy is the biggest thing to look out for.”
Ferrito will work closely with Archer as the other boys’ director. The Homer High School assistant coach began his playing days as early as he can remember. “I’ve played lacrosse probably my whole life since second grade, I had a wooden stick,” Ferrito said. “Our elementary school PE teacher got us into lacrosse.” Ferrito played where Archer now coaches at Jamesville-Dewitt before a four-year stint at Alfred University.
He’s been coaching since graduation. “When I first got out of school, I coached at Jamesville-Dewitt for a couple of years,” Ferrito said. “Then, I came to Homer and I’ve been here since 1990, took a little break in the middle, coached a couple of years at Skaneateles High School and then back to Homer.”
Ferrito has had the opportunity to grow the lacrosse program in his time at Homer. “Back when we started, we had a good group of kids come along, some Division I players, that had a nice little run,” Ferrito said. “We went from, when I first started out, not being able to compete against some of the bigger schools, and then we had a pretty good group come along and really get interested in lacrosse and really started realizing how to play the game and we were able to compete with them and win some championships.”
Ferrito saw himself as a good fit alongside Archer in the Central region’s director’s office. “Jamie Archer is a really good friend of mine, we’ve worked a lot of camps together and we’ve known each other as players,” Ferrito said. “We’ve coached against each other for years. Some of my strengths are different from Jamie’s so he asked me to help him out with it and I was glad to help.” The feeling was mutual. “I’ve always trusted his opinion on things,” Archer said of Ferrito. “He’s a little bit more on the organized part of things, I knew he would be good at that aspect.”
With Archer and Ferrito at the helm, the Central region will look to take advantage of the moment. “Opportunity for kids, that’s something they haven’t had,” Ferrito said. “It’s been a tough time for everybody and it’s an opportunity for kids to get out and play the game.”