Lawrence, citing lack of support, resigns

Riverhead Coach Tony Lawrence, center, resigned after eight seasons as the team’s first varsity coach. He was joined at a recent awards ceremony with his all-county goalie, Kyle Hubbard, and Hubbard’s father, Tim Hubbard. Tim Hubbard received a service award for his part in starting the Riverhead Police Athletic League lacrosse program in 2001.

It was “in the best interest of the kids.”

That is what Tony Lawrence said when he resigned this past week as the Riverhead Blue Waves boys lacrosse coach. Lawrence, the only coach the Blue Waves have had in their eight-year varsity history, said “lack of support within the structure of the program” led to his resignation.

“I am proud of this program,” Lawrence said. “In order to turn the program around successfully, you need supportive parents and players. These years have been great, but sometimes parents think they know best. It becomes detrimental. It’s unfortunate. It’s time to go if the kids don’t believe in you. It’s just not going to work. You need support. If the parents think what I’m doing is not beneficial for their child, it does no one any good for me to stay on. It’s time to move on.”

When reached on Tuesday afternoon, Riverhead Athletic Director Bill Groth declined to comment, calling this “a personnel matter.”

It was not immediately known who Lawrence’s successor will be.

The Blue Waves have never reached the playoffs, and have had only two winning seasons, in 2004 when they went 10-7 and 2009 when they went 9-8. Riverhead’s all-time record is 49-85 (.366).

The Blue Waves finished this past season with a 3-13 record. Four of Riverhead’s losses were by one goal. Lawrence often called Suffolk County Division I, the division his team played in, “the toughest division in the United States.”

Before becoming the Riverhead varsity coach in 2003, Lawrence coached the Riverhead Middle School team for a year, followed by a year each coaching the junior varsity freshman team and then the junior varsity.

Lawrence looks back fondly on his 10 years coaching boys lacrosse in Riverhead.

“I’m fortunate,” he said. “I came here 12 years ago to start a program. So many students who were young back then, come back now and I am not only their former coach, I am their friend. That means so much to me. So many of these kids have overcome obstacles and I am proud and fortunate to have been a part of their life. I have loved watching these kids develop their skills.

“Some of these kids felt they never could have gone to college without a scholarship. Now they have graduated. I feel truly blessed.”

When asked if he will coach again, Lawrence quickly said, “Yes, I will return to coaching someday … where, I just don’t know.”

Lawrence hesitated, then added: “I am extremely grateful for my time here. I am going to miss it. I love this program.”