John Laden knows a thing or two about lacrosse.
West Forsyth’s administrators just want him to pass that knowledge along to the school’s varsity boys lacrosse team in the coming seasons.
The Wolverines have hired Laden as their new head coach, and he brings an impressive resume to the West campus.
Laden won five high school state titles in New York, four NCAA Division II championships at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. and coached the Bulgarian men’s national lacrosse team from 2010-2011.
"This is my last stop," Laden said. "West Forsyth is the perfect situation for me. I’m able to teach P.E. and coach lacrosse. It is exactly what I wanted. I’m ready to put some roots down."
Laden attended Chaminade High School in Mineola, N.Y., where he first played lacrosse. After graduation, Laden continued his lacrosse career at the University of Massachusetts from 1983-1985.
Three years after playing at UMass, Laden returned to his high school alma mater to become the head coach, before leaving in 1994 to coach at Adelphi.
West athletic director Brett Phipps said he received many applications during the hiring process, but Laden’s jumped off the page.
"It was [a] great [hire] for the school, especially for the players and the community," Phipps said. "We wanted to get the right person in here for us to be competitive, and we found an amazing person.
"Lacrosse is growing in Georgia; it’s the new hotbed. The success of Lambert and Milton helped us get a great coach that saw the area is doing well in lacrosse."
Coaching the Bulgarian national team was the most adventurous thing Laden has done, he said. After stumbling across the job on a lacrosse website, he decided to give it a shot without knowing anyone in Bulgaria.
"I started asking myself questions like, ‘Why not?’ and it paid off," Laden said. "I was able to travel around, and from a professional standpoint, coach lacrosse. It was more of something that I wanted to do; it was like an adventure for me."
The head coach, who originally hails from Long Island, N.Y., focuses more on hard work and establishing a winning-mindset than strategy.
"There are some great teams in this area," Laden said. "I know one of the teams [Lambert] won it all this year. I’m focused on getting this team to be the best it can be.
"I don’t focus as much on the X’s and O’s of the game. I want my players to strive to develop a team-first mentality, and then everything will work itself out."
Running a clean lacrosse program was an important aspect to Phipps when he made the decision to offer Laden the job.
"Winning state titles [is] great, but we wanted someone who could run a strong, clean program most of all," Phipps said. "I think coach Laden can do that here."