Get To Know the Directors: Joe Baccarella and Brett Waxer

Baccarella began his lacrosse career in eighth grade and played in the Sewanhaka High School District. Directly after high school, he entered the coaching ranks. “My old coach got me involved coaching football and lacrosse,” Baccarella said. “I was 18 years coaching.”

His coaching resumé includes a number of stops. After Sewanhaka, became a JV assistant at Farmingdale for four years and then spent six years at Plainview through 1999. At the turn of the century, Baccarella moved on to Southside for eight years, winning a state championship in 2004 and then to Cold Spring Harbor for two years. He then coached at Jericho High School for three years and then returned to Farmingdale as an assistant. After a couple of years at Plain Edge, Baccarella returned to Farmingdale where he coaches JV today. Baccarella’s experience is not limited to high school lacrosse; he spent some time as the equipment manager for the National Lacrosse League’s New York Saints.

The highlight for Baccarella is that 2004 state championship which he remembers well. “[My favorite memory is] probably the state championship run in 2004 at Southside,” Baccarella said. “We beat Bethpage in the Nassau County Championship, went on and beat Shoreham in the Long Island Championship, a good Shoreham team, and then we beat Corning in the State Championship.”

Like the other Nassau directors, Baccarella transferred from running the Long Island Showcase to overseeing a team in the New York State Regional Championships. This year, he is excited to get back on the field. “It will be great having the kids on the fields again competing with their regions,” Baccarella said. “It’s been successful over the years and adding the girls is exciting. It’s bringing back part of the Empire State Games which we lost.”

Waxer was a multi-sport athlete growing up and ended up not choosing to play lacrosse in college. “I played [lacrosse] growing up,” Waxer said. “I actually wound up playing soccer in college. That was my sport that I chose although I was recruited for lacrosse.” He played four years of Division I soccer at Eastern Carolina University.

Out of college, Waxer returned to lacrosse as a coach. “Since I was 22 years, I got my first job out of college teaching at Syosset High School and I was coaching middle school there in 2001,” Waxer said. “I worked my way up to the JV program and then, in 2012, I joined the varsity team as a defensive coordinator.”

Although Waxer doesn’t coach lacrosse at Syosset, he continues to work with youth soccer programs. “As of 2018, I have stopped coaching with Syosset,” Waxer said. “I’m the varsity soccer coach. Besides coaching that and doing the Long Island Showcase, I have three boys, and they all play. Two out of my three boys are at the age that they can be playing and I coach them. I’ve given the time back to my kids and a little more focus on them”

Through his coaching career, Waxer remembers the people that made it special. “John Calabria is my best friend,” Waxer said. “To have the opportunity to share your passion with someone daily and to go on a journey with them, that’s what it’s supposed to be about. We sacrificed a lot to do our coaching and put a lot of time in but to do it with good people, there’s been a lot of coaches throughout Syosset that we’ve been a part of, that right there is awesome.”

Waxer is proud to be a part of the team that helped turn the Long Island Showcase into the New York State Regional Championships. “To have eight guys that share the same passion, which is all about the high school kids and having the best opportunity for them to showcase themselves, it’s something that we take a lot of pride in,” Waxer said. “To be around those guys and to share that mindset is something special. The kids that have come through our programs have been high-end players that have gone on to bigger and better things.”

He enjoys that the tournament gives everyone a chance to show their skills. “It’s not just for the big-name guy, although the big-name guys come through us, and it’s not always about the big-name college, although the big-name college comes through us,” Waxer said. “It’s an opportunity for a lot of kids to showcase themselves and really get the opportunity, if they want to play at the next level, they’re afforded that.”

Regional pride is also a big draw for Waxer. “Bringing back the regions and the pride in your region, whatever shirt you’re putting on to come together from different towns to represent a region, it brings that old-school feel again,” Waxer said.

It was something Waxer wanted to be a part of from the beginning. “To have this ability to have the New York showcase, which was an idea from the Empire Games, to bring that opportunity back to these kids, to bring that tradition back, was something you couldn’t not want to be a part of,” Waxer said. “Everyone jumps on [club lacrosse] but to have something that is special for the high school player is an opportunity that we hope every player has to get that experience.”

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