Matt Maloney and Ryan Gick found lacrosse at different points in their lives but they’ll team up to try and bring their region some trophies in 2021.
Growing up, Maloney was a multi-sport athlete but lacrosse wasn’t one of them. “I played pretty much every other sport,” Maloney said. “I played soccer, basketball and baseball at the high school level. When I went to Adelphi, I started studying phys ed and, knowing lacrosse was booming, I thought it might be a good idea to get involved or learn it a little bit because coaching it might help me get a phys ed job.”
The decision paid off and Maloney was coaching lacrosse before graduating college. “I was student-teaching at Rocky Point when Joe Spallina was coaching there,” Maloney said. “I was able to start my lacrosse coaching career with some pretty good experience.” After two years at Rocky Point, Maloney spent seven years at East Hampton, helping it grow from a low-level program to a playoff contender, before moving to Mattituck where he was for the past six years.
Now, Maloney has stepped out of the head coaching role and is an assistant at Bayport but he still holds many memories from his time in the head role. “Winning back-to-back state championships at Mattituck is probably the top,” Maloney said. It was such a great feeling of accomplishment. On a smaller scale, a truly love working with all different types of abilities of girls and seeing them progress on an everyday level. I do enjoy the small things of kids getting better and accepting coaching and those kinds of relationships.”
For the New York State Regional Championships, Maloney was excited to join the team. “[Mike and Corey Winkoff] reached out to what looks like an all-star cast of coaches, I’m honored to be included in the group that they reached out to, to direct and to coach for the 2021 games,” Maloney said. “Having built a relationship with the Winks and Long Island Lacrosse Journal and everything that they do for Long Island lacrosse and getting to know those guys, I like what they stand for and I’m happy to be on board with them.”
Maloney knows that this year’s tournament is critical for the success of tournaments to come. “[I’m looking forward to] moving this idea in the right direction to build for the girls’ players of the future and highlight some players in the present,” Maloney said. “This is a foundation that we’re trying to have prolonged success and continue this tradition of high-level lacrosse in this area. Being part of it at the footstone is a cool experience and I hope to help grow it.”
Gick has been around lacrosse for a long time. Beginning his playing career in eighth grade and coaching career over a decade ago, he brings experience from both the boys’ and girls’ games. “I played at East Islip when I was in high school,” Gick said. “I coached a little bit at East Islip on the boys’ side, I coached at John Glenn on the boys’ side and then I got my coaching job in Bayport with the girls.”
Gick is proud of the strides the Bayport girls’ team has made under his guidance. “Helping build Bayport’s program to what we are now has definitely been a nice thing to go through,” Gick said. “Our first county championship was back in 2014, we won our second one two years ago before COVID. We had some big wins along the way against teams that, many years ago, we were looking up to and saying ‘we want to be like them and be those teams on the Island’ and, many years later, I think many people look at us that way.”
Through his connections with the Winkoffs, Gick got the opportunity to join the New York State Regional Championships. “Over the years of coaching and dealing with Corey and Mike, we’ve built a little bit of a friendship and started chatting about different events,” Gick said. “It was brought forward towards us and I love the Empire Game concept years ago when that used to be something. I remember going to the Empire Games when my sisters used to play soccer in it. It was almost like a mini Olympics.”
Gick is also excited to add the girls. “I think the girls’ game in the last five, six, seven years has grown exponentially on Long Island and across the country,” Gick said. “I think this is the next step up the ladder for girls’ lacrosse becoming a big sport across the nation.”
At this year’s tournament, Gick wants to see regional pride. “Obviously the competition is going to be tremendous because you’re pulling from the best kids from each region,” Gick said. “We’ll see how kids engage in the whole ‘we’re from here, we’re from there’ and play with a little pride. That’s why I love high school athletics; there’s a little bit more attitude when you play for your hometown or where you’re from as opposed to playing for your club team or just playing for fun. It incorporates some sort of pride in where you come from and now you’re playing with kids who normally are your rivals. You’re teaming up with them trying to take on kids from other parts of the state, I think that’s a pretty exciting thing to look forward to.”