During halftime of men’s lacrosse’s second-to-last regular season game April 4, head coach Dallas Hartley walked between his team’s two huddles – one offensive, one defensive – at opposite ends of the Chapman bench, listening from the periphery.
Hartley, who is in his eighth year as head coach, entrusts his offensive and defensive coaches with the responsibility of monitoring in-game strategy, only interjecting with his opinion when necessary.
That delegation is an overarching theme of Hartley’s eight-year tenure as men’s lacrosse head coach, during which Chapman has won nearly four times more than it has lost and won the national championship two seasons ago. Since 2010, the lacrosse team has gone 143-36, a winning percentage of .799.
“We like to give our players and our coaches freedom,” Hartley said. “All of our players have a good mind and lacrosse IQ and our coaches certainly do, too. We all want it to be a melting pot of ideas.”
This year, Hartley has overseen a group that has gone undefeated so far, both in-conference play (4-0) and overall (10-0). The squad is ranked first in the country in Division I club lacrosse, according to the Under Armour Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) Coaches’ Poll.
Chapman has overcome stiff competition, emerging victorious against a bevy of nationally ranked opponents, including No. 3 University of Colorado, Boulder, No. 8 Concordia University, Irvine, No. 10 Virginia Tech and No. 12 Boston College.
Hartley says his secret to success is institutional support and lasting relationships with players and assistant coaches.
“When a player realizes, ‘I can do it this way and I can do it the right way and I’m getting better,’ ultimately (that leads to) the team’s success,” Hartley said.
Sophomore attacker Wiley Bonham credits Hartley’s success as a coach to his approachability, likability and relatability.
Hartley played club lacrosse for Sonoma State University from 1997-2000 and earned two First Team MCLA All-American and three First Team Western Collegiate Lacrosse League awards.
“He understands what it’s like to be out there,” Bonham said. “If we see something differently, we mention it and he’ll take it into consideration. (He’s) someone you can talk to about anything. I feel like there’s not anything I can’t talk to him about.”
Claremont College head coach Pete Ginnegar said Hartley and his staff get the most out of his players.
“Year in, year out, there’s been a (coaching) consistency with this program that a lot of programs can’t match,” Ginnegar said.
That consistency has translated into a program that is constantly at the top of the MCLA rankings. Senior attacker Dylan Garner said Hartley refused to accept that the team was supposed to rebuild in 2017. He wanted to compete instead.
“Many (people) kept saying how we were supposed to be a rebuilding team last year, but he says, ‘Why are we supposed to be rebuilding at all?’” Garner said. “He has been putting in schemes that work for us and consistently changes how he coaches in order to make the team successful.”
Chapman has one final regular season game, a Southwestern Lacrosse Conference matchup at No. 18 University of California, Santa Barbara April 4.
Hartley had some words of wisdom for his team before they take on a division rival ahead of the playoffs.
“We have a motto that we don’t lose to Santa Barbara,” he said “We’ve got to back that up.”