March 14, 2012 - Oxford High School's varsity lacrosse team has a new head man in charge.
Auburn Hills resident Greg Normand will bring his 25 years of experience coaching men's and women's lacrosse to Oxford's blue turf. During those years, he has coached at Orchard Lake St. Mary's Prep, Rochester and Waterford Kettering High Schools and at Central and Eastern Michigan University.
During his five years at St. Mary's, Normand went 52-31 and went to the state finals twice.
He is currently the woman's lacrosse head coach at Michigan State University.
Normand said he chose Oxford over a couple other job offers he had after retiring as an assistant coach for the football program at Orchard Lake St. Mary's last year.
"The potential with the stadium and the kids they have in the program, the junior program and the middle school, I think there is some opportunity to help them go in the right direction," he said.
"Lacrosse is one of those sports that is growing leaps and bounds across the country, not just in this area, and I think Oxford is one of those sleeping giants...I think in time this is going to be a solid program with statewide reputation," said Normand, who served as editor of The Oxford Leader back in the 1990s.
He said he sees a program that has athletes and a desire to improve and get better. "They want to win, and that bodes well for any coach that comes in and has some supportive opportunities," Normand said.
Seventy-five kids have signed up to play lacrosse, which impressed Normand.
According to Normand, he is looking to begin with the basics and see where the players are with their lacrosse skills.
"This is a finesse sport, this is not a brutal sport like football where you are banging on people," Normand said. "It's about speed and skill...the nice part about that is it is one of the few sports with contact that a little man can be as effective as a big man because speed is a huge issue."
He said they were going to build the program "from the bottom up."
Even though the season officially begins next week with practices, Normand is already planning a day long event at Oxford High School on March 17.
He will be bringing together five of the top lacrosse teams in the area - Rochester Adams, L'Anse Creuse, Orchard Lake St. Mary's, Lake Orion and Traverse City Central - for the 4th annual Battagaway Lacrosse Invitational, a pre-season round-robin warm-up benefiting Alzheimer's research. "It will give us a chance for us to test ourselves against some really good teams, and at the same time, it's a chance for people to see some pretty good lacrosse," Normand said.
The event , which runs on Saturday, March 17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is free for the public.
Donations will be taken at the gate. For more information on the event, visit www.oxfordlacrosse.shutterfly.com.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.