Upon entering the men’s lacrosse office, one undoubtedly interrupts a running joke between the three coaches and whichever player is present. It comes as a surprise then, that this is the first year that the staff has been assembled. And the final piece to the trio is assistant coach George Harris.
Harris, a 1989 graduate of Ithaca College and former assistant at Colgate, was coaxed to East Hill after participating in a summer camp program with Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni. Prior to his five years with the Raiders, he was the head lacrosse and assistant soccer coach at Skidmore College.
“I was approached by coach Tambroni over the summer at a lacrosse camp, and he mentioned that he had an opening on his staff for an assistant coaching position,” Harris said.
Since Colgate’s program was undergoing a change after the resignation of Dan Whelan, Tambroni found an opening to avidly pursue Harris.
“Experience was probably the main ingredient that attracted us to coach Harris, and we thought chemistry was going to be very good between us. We’re all very close in age and philosophy,” Tambroni said.
And Harris seems to fit the complexion of the coaching staff perfectly. Although he has been coaching longer than either Tambroni or the other assistant coach, defensive coordinator Bobby Wynn, Harris was happy to become the “new kid on the block” for the lacrosse program.
“It was a goal of mine to coach in the Ivy League. It was a great step up for me, with Cornell being a top-15 program. I knew that I would learn a great deal under coach Tambroni as well, and I have from day one,” Harris admitted, adding that he especially enjoys working with the student-athletes Cornell attracts.
“Lacrosse here [at Cornell] is definitely more emphasized than it was where I was, and I like that a lot,” he continued.
Harris is the Red’s third offensive coordinator in as many years. Last year’s assistant, Scott Urick, left to coach under his father, Dave Urick, at Georgetown. Before him, Tambroni had been the offensive coordinator for three years prior. Thus far with Harris, the Red has scored over 10.4 goals per game and has the sixth highest goal differential in the nation.
“Having him on the staff has been wonderful. It’s brought an experienced voice to practice. He can handle his side of the field, he’s done a great job with our extra-man, he works very well with the goalies,” Tambroni praised. “I think everything on the field has worked out as well as it could have.”
And even though Harris blends perfectly with the fabric of the lacrosse program, the staff does have disparate opinions concerning the team.
“One of the best things we have is the ability to disagree, We do a good job of dividing our friendship with our coaching staff relationship. Our philosophy is similar, but certainly we have our disagreements on certain things that go on the field,” said Tambroni, the ultimate winner of debates.
Harris has also benefited from being familiar with the Cornell program after spending much of his playing and coaching careers in upstate New York.
“Cornell’s no stranger to me,” he exclaimed, recounting battles on the field and recruiting battles off the field both lost to Colgate’s bigger local rival. But he had no regrets handing the Raiders a loss in the Red’s second game of the season.
“It was good to get a win against a team that I had coached for for five years. It felt good leaving [Hamilton] with a victory,” he said.
Despite Harris’ contributions to the program this season, such as helping Cornell to a six game win streak, his success may cost Cornell, as other programs take notice — a consequence that Tambroni deems likely.
“I think every good assistant will have an opportunity to leave someday, and I think every head coach is fortunate when [his assistant] is asked to leave or promoted to different programs in the country. And I’m sure this summer, he will be asked or entertained to look at different positions. He will be a first assistant or a head coach someday,” Tambroni said.
However, Tambroni could not resist the temptation to knock on wood when confronted with the possibility of Harris’ departure.
Archived article by Amanda Angel