Daniel Gold came to Emerson hoping to write screenplays and direct films. Now, less than a year after graduation, he is writing game plans and directing plays on the lacrosse field.
Gold, a 2012 graduate and former captain of the men’s lacrosse team, is the new head coach. While the former visual and media arts major didn’t expect to jump right into a coaching career, he said the internship hunt was slow and decided to apply when the coaching position opened up. Now, Gold is seeing his favorite sport from the other side of the spectrum.
“I used to just worry about scoring goals,” said Gold, who has been playing lacrosse since the second grade. “Now I’ve got to handle team morale.”
Although Gold doesn’t have any previous coaching experience on the collegiate level, he said his previous Emerson career can only be a gain for the lacrosse program.
“I know what a good shot should look like,” said Gold, who calls upon personal experience to make sure his team is doing everything the right way. “I know the things I did wrong and the little ways to cheat in practice. So I can call kids out on not doing it the right way.”
Upon taking the job, Gold realized he would be coaching players who had also been his teammates. He said although the shift might be a bit jarring at first, if the players have ambitions to succeed, they will get over the idea of a former teammate bossing them around.
“The kids want to win,” said Gold, acknowledging the smooth transition from player to coach. “Fighting the idea of me as coach wouldn’t get them anywhere.”
Nicholas Kitsos, a freshman communication studies major, said the perspective that Gold brings to the team is helpful.
“He’s been here before, he knows what it’s like to play for Emerson,” said Kitsos. “He knows the competition. He knows how to lift us up.”
The game of lacrosse has long been a part of Gold’s life, as his dad was his coach until he entered high school. Upon learning of his son’s job, Gold said his dad donated his lucky whistle to him, which Gold said was a special moment.
“It felt right,” he said. “[Lacrosse] has always been the strongest part of our relationship.”
Kitsos said that Gold is also understanding of class schedules and the importance of academics.
“He’s 100 percent understanding if we can’t make practices,” said Kitsos, who says Gold always puts learning first. “If we can’t make practice, he’s totally cool with it.”
Still, Gold knows not to get played by his players.
“Even with class conflicts, I know from personal experience that it’s possible to manage both a film shoot and practice,” said Gold. “Academics come first, but they signed up to be student athletes.”
But the rookie coach hasn’t figured it all out yet. According to Kitsos, he can be a little gun-shy when it comes to making plays.
“Sometimes he needs to give us a call for what offense to run,” said Kitsos. “He’s a little reluctant to tell us what to do.”
Gold admits he’s still finding his footing as a coach, as he only received the position in October.
“Going into the season, I didn’t have any reference points,” said Gold, who concludes he needs more experience to balance the key components of effective coaching. “I can be stern at times and friendly at others. I’m still learning when to bring out those sides.”
Bill Leopold, a senior broadcast journalism major, was a former teammate of Gold’s and is now the Lions’ team captain. Leopold said that Gold transitioned smoothly from a peer to a mentor.
“He’s done a fantastic job stepping into the role,” said Leopold. “We made a considerable effort to promote him as our leader.”
Before Gold, Leopold and other players had a rocky rapport with Emerson’s lacrosse program. In his four years, Leopold has had three different coaches. Last year, coach Nate Mayo, who coached the Lions for two years, left the team with a 1-9 record after realizing it would be his final year coaching at Emerson.
“The coach had written off the season before we even stepped on the field,” said Leopold.
According to Leopold, this season has been much more positive for the team.
“There is more of a level of accountability,” said Leopold of the new regime leader. “Now we understand that this season is just going to match the effort we put in. We are all a family, and we’ve got to pick each other up.”
Even though Leopold graduates in May, he said he hopes that the athletic department will choose to keep Gold beyond one year, a decision that will be made at the end of the season.
“We started something good this year,” said Leopold. “Now we have a chance to keep building.”
Next season, the team will be leaving the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference for the New England Woman’s and Men’s Athletic Conference. But with a 2-2 record this season, already one more win than they had last year, the players aren’t worried about next season quite yet.
“I don’t have any thoughts on next year,” said Kitsos. “We’re still focused on this year.”
Gold said he hopes to continue the progress he’s made thus far on the lacrosse team, but he still hasn’t given up on his original dream upon coming to Emerson.
“Down the line, I still see myself being a filmmaker,” said Gold, who hopes to attend graduate school at Emerson. “At some point, I will pursue it legitimately.”