Thursday, October 23, 2008

Presser & the 2006 Duke Lacrosse Team : Character and Reputation

"It would be well if character and reputation were used distinctively. In truth, character is what a person is; reputation what he is supposed to be. In truth, character is in himself, reputation is in the mind of others. Character is injured by temptations; and by wrong-doing.; reputation, by slanders and libels. Character endures throughout defamation in every form, but perishes when there is a voluntary transgression; reputation may last through numerous transgressions, but be destroyed by a single, and even an unfounded, accusation or aspersion.

From the 1921 Edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary"

This is an article by Teddy Lamade, brother of the 2006 Duke Lacrosse Team member, Peter Lamade. It is in contrast to the continued lies and false accusations we heard today. The Character shown by Coach Mike Pressler and his team two years ago is the answer to the false accusations and stands by itself.

With the recent announcement of Joe Alberici (Army), Rick Sowell (Stony Brook) and Tony Resch (Philly Barrage) as assistants to the 2010 U.S. National Team, I thought I would take a minute to go back and congratulate the man they’ll be helping out, Bryant’s Mike Pressler.

A little less than two months ago, on Friday September 12, 2008, Pressler was named the next coach of Team USA, a fitting honor for a man who has been through so much in the past few years. He has had his character criticized, his team and program slandered, his family threatened, but through it all he has stayed true to himself and loyal to those close to him. It is a true case of a man sticking to his guns and coming out stronger and vindicated. I applaud USA Lacrosse for making this choice.

I obviously don’t know Coach Pressler as well as the guys that have played for him through the years, but I do know what he stands for, being good friends with many of his former players, including my brother, Peter. As a result, I heard of the affection that they had for “Coach P”. They spoke of his loyalty and toughness. Pressler would attract criticism over the years, as many coaches do, but these are two qualities that never would be questioned.

Everyone knows now about the false rape allegations that the Duke Lacrosse team faced in the spring of 2006. The entire team suffered, especially the three players accused of rape, but Pressler would take some of the hardest hits of all He lost his job, his program, and his way of life. Through it all he stayed loyal to all of his players. He backed them from the beginning until the end no matter the consequences.

Mike Pressler (John Strohsacker/U.S. Lacrosse)When the charges were dismissed, Mike Pressler could not go back to his life as it once was. Thankfully, Ronald Machtley, the President of Bryant University and Bill Smith, the University’s athletic director, stuck their necks out for Pressler. They took Pressler at his word and listened to the recommendation of his former top assistant - Joe Alberici. As a result, they hired Pressler to be their head men’s lacrosse coach. This would pay dividends for all parties involved from the minute the relationship began.

For Mike Pressler, a coaching career that had taken decades to build was back on track. For Machtley and Smith, Bryant University’s lacrosse program would be taken to heights never imagined. Pressler would lead Bryant to the top of Division II in his first year as they defeated top-ranked LeMoyne University and wound up finishing in the No. 4 spot in the country. In 2008, Pressler again topped the Dolphins before guiding the school to its first-ever NCAA tournament and another No. 4 finish.

Now Pressler and the Bulldogs prepare for the unthinkable, a transition to Division I. This spring, he will head down to Charlottesville, Virginia to face his good friend Dom Starsia, except this time in won’t be in April with the ACC Regular Season Championship on the line. Instead it will be in chilly February in one of their first games, but it shouldn’t matter to Mike Pressler because he is back.

Throughout this incredible journey, Coach Pressler has been a man of his word and has attracted the admiration of many others along the way. One thing that sticks out to me though, is the fact that the highest governing body of lacrosse, USA Lacrosse, made the decision to appoint Mike Pressler to one of its highest posts and to represent the United States on the athletic field, but the Duke University Administration didn’t feel it was appropriate to take the time to seek out the truth and let this man who had given so much to that University a chance to defend himself and his program.

Thankfully, life is about second chances.
Inside Lacrosse Blog

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