New London, Conn – Emblazoned on the foyer deck of Chase Hall (the cadet barracks) are the words of RADM Stephen H. Evans, Superintendent of the Academy (1960-1962): “Who lives here reveres honor, honors duty”. The cadets of the Coast Guard Academy Men’s Lacrosse team got a life-lesson in honoring duty this week when they found out that Head Coach Brian Krautler (also an active duty Lieutenant Commander in the Coast Guard) had received unexpected and last minute orders assigning him as the new Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Cutter HICKORY, a 225-foot sea-going buoy tender out of Homer, Alaska. Coach Krautler had a year left on his tour in New London, but the needs of the Service dictated that his talents were needed elsewhere – an old military quotation says it best “that’s why they call them orders and not invitations”.
In his three years in New London, Krautler seamlessly meshed the military rigors of the Coast Guard Academy with being a lacrosse program intent on winning. His teams went 25-10 (14-3 in the PCLL) – producing 16 PCLL All-Conference players, one PCLL Offensive Player of the Year, one PCLL Rookie of the Year, one MCLA D2 All-American, two MCLA D2 All-American – Honorable Mentions, five MCLA D2 Scholar-Athletes and earning himself the 2010 PCLL D2 Coach of the Year. However, more important than any of these statistics is the number 20 – that’s how many “leaders of character” Coach Krautler impacted, graduated and sent to the fleet as Ensigns to lead young Coast Guard men and women.
The former Superintendent, Rear Admiral Burhoe, charged his faculty to “look, act and behave in a manner consistent with our mission, and in keeping with our military culture and heritage”. Coach Krautler epitomized this expectation and will be remembered for his tremendous professionalism. Much to the surprise of the entire team on the first game of his coaching career, Coach Krautler arrived wearing his Service Dress Blue uniform – what the old timers called “dress canvas” – a navy blue single-breasted coat with notched lapels, ribbons, a name tag, rank stripes on the sleeves, a light blue dress shirt, a tie and an officer’s combination cover. He made it a regular practice and never attended a game not wearing his uniform – it was reminiscent of the black and white photos of Otto Graham stalking the Coast Guard sidelines in the 1960s. Not only did this intimidate opposing teams, it showed the members of the team and all the cadets in attendance the importance of distinguishing yourself as an officer. Coach Krautler embodied the fact that being a Coast Guard Officer is not just a job; but a profession and a calling. He lived that out in the way he led his career and the way he coached the team.
The Coast Guard’s Core Values are Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty – Coach Krautler lived them, he instilled them in his players and he made them the foundation of the Coast Guard Academy Men’s Lacrosse program. Core values were so important that cadets see them each time they dress on gameday because they are concealed in the waistline of their game shorts.
HONOR – Coach Krautler ensured the team honored the past…Lieutenant John Senyard, Class of ’83, the founder of Coast Guard Academy Lacrosse, was killed in a plane crash in Africa in 1989. His initials and class crest adorn the right sleeve of our uniforms. In 2010, Coach Krautler helped find and reunite with members of the Senyard Family – his Mom and sister attended our game against Navy and they continue to engage with the team. Captain Tom Nelson, Class of ’88 and a lacrosse player, was killed in the 6505 mishap in Hawaii – an MH-65C helicopter and the number 6505 adorn our game shorts to honor the crew and their sacrifice. Coach Krautler helped start the annual goal flag ceremony tradition with one flag honoring Lieutenant Senyard and one flag honoring our lost teammate Captain Nelson and others on the Wall of Remembrance.
RESPECT – Coach Krautler ensured the team embraced Diversity…Coach Krautler helped engage 17 inner-city lacrosse programs through the U.S. Lacrosse BRIDGE program…Building Relationships to Initiate Diversity, Growth and Enrichment and made in-roads with the Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, Trenton and Denver affiliates. Coach Krautler used the sport of lacrosse to build Coast Guard relationships with two Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Hampton University and Morgan State University. He ensured the team understood the significance of the Morgan State University Lacrosse teams of the early 1970s and brought the team to Baltimore to participate in the annual Bears Lacrosse Showcase and Diversity Open House.
DEVOTION TO DUTY – Coach Krautler ensured the team embraced the Coast Guardsmen’s ethos…three lacrosse players earned Coast Guard Achievement Medals for coming to the aid of a female college student that sustained a severe back injury in a diving accident on Spring Break in Jamaica. These cadets stabilized her injuries, found her ground transportation and gave her roommates money to get them to the airport…”I will protect them. I will defend them. I will save them. I am their shield”.
What does all this have to do with lacrosse? At the Coast Guard Academy, quite a lot.
One of Coach Krautler’s many guest speakers, evangelist and author Joe Ehrmann, spoke to the lacrosse team about his definition of what it means to be a man – that definition is based on only two things: relationships and having a cause beyond yourself. Coach Krautler has exemplified this system of beliefs. He is a dedicated husband, father, teacher, coach and officer – he values his personal relationships and he exhibits selflessness in action, but most importantly he instilled selflessness in his players. The Coast Guard Academy’s loss is the Cutter HICKORY’s gain. Fair winds and following seas to Coach Brian Krautler.
For more information – check out our website at: www.coastguardlax.vicid.net
As the smallest of the five U.S. service academies, the Coast Guard Academy offers the elite higher education, rigorous professional development, and honor and tradition of a military academy but with a more personalized approach.
The Coast Guard Academy offers an integrated life experience which emphasizes academics, physical fitness, character and leadership, in order to graduate officers of the highest caliber. Graduates go directly to positions of leadership in “The Shield of Freedom,” one of the most admired organizations in the world. The Academy also features an impressive teacher-student ratio and picturesque waterfront campus that instills a traditional small college feel.
Cadets devote themselves to an honor concept and graduate to work at sea, on land, in the air, and even in space, in meaningful careers of selfless service to others.