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Sports / Recreation

Coach says farewell to men's lacrosse

July 20, 2009

Flip Naumburg will step down from his position of head coach for the lacrosse team this summer, after 14 season. Alex Smith has been named the new men's lacrosse coach.

Four national championships, six conference titles

After 14 years on the job, Flip Naumburg will step down as head coach of Colorado State University men’s lacrosse this summer. Since 1996, Naumburg has patrolled the sidelines of the Green and Gold, leading his team to a record four Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association national championships and six Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference titles. Following a tumultuous spring season in 2009, Naumburg says his decision was made “in the spirit of trying to do what is right for CSU lacrosse.”

When Naumburg first took over as head coach, CSU lacrosse was just another club lacrosse team. That was part of his draw to the program. “The thing that brought me to CSU in 1996 was my desire to make a real program out of a club team,” he said. “I thought the potential to build a real organization from something that was more or less nothing more than a bunch of guys getting together to play was the driving force for me, and it continued to be that force as we climbed and grew. I think we made strides to the point where people often thought of us the same way they think of a Division I program and that was and is a source of pride for me.”

As head coach, Naumburg said, “It has been my goal to always point the program toward the place that it needed to be.”

Leaving his mark

In his wake, he will leave behind a multitude of accomplishments that includes a 208-52 overall win-loss record (80% win percentage), multiple national and conference championships, national Coach of the Year honors in 1999 and three RMLC Coach of the Year awards. Capping it all, he was inducted into the Colorado Lacrosse Hall of Fame in the fall of 2006 – a well-earned feat for the trend-setting coach.

Naumburg has also had a drastic impact on the broader lacrosse community for many decades. In 1973, he co-founded the Vail Lacrosse Shootout, one of the largest and longest running lacrosse tournaments in the world. Additionally, he founded Rock-It Pocket in 1987 and is still the owner of the custom-strung pocket company. Naumburg will remain actively involved with both ventures, in addition to owning Colorado Lacrosse and Co. – a lacrosse-only retail store in Fort Collins.

Alex Smith named new coach

The decision by Naumburg to step down as head coach is by no means a farewell to the Colorado State lacrosse program and he will remain a large part of the family by offering assistance to his successor, long-time assistant coach Alex Smith. He will continue to work with the team whenever his guidance is needed.

“The decision to step back came from me thinking that it was Alex’s time,” said Naumburg. “I have been grooming him for this for a few years, and when I took my sabbatical this past season it really became his team in many ways. The decision is a bittersweet one as I have loved coaching these guys so much, and I also felt like it was the thing I was meant to do in life.”

Smith led the Rams to a 7-2 record during Naumburg’s leave of absence, and continued to have a large role even upon his return.

“Flip is a great friend and mentor,” commented Smith on his predecessor. “He has taught me everything I know about lacrosse and a lot about life as well. His accomplishments speak for themselves. CSU lacrosse has been around for a long time, but not until he got here did we really make strides as a program both on and off the field.”

Big shoes to fill

The Rams will continue to be in good hands with Smith in place as head coach. He came to CSU as a student looking to play lacrosse, and left as one of the best goalies the program has seen. Since joining the lacrosse program at CSU, he has been a part of all four national championships as a player or as a coach. He is one of the few non-varsity players to make a professional lacrosse roster, where he has been a goaltender for the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse since 2006.

Even with all those accomplishments, he understands he has big shoes to fill. “It’s not so much about replacing Flip, because that would be impossible,” he noted. “It’s about moving forward in a positive direction with a program that he has built from virtually ground up. We have a great core returning for 2010 and a lot of freshmen coming in that should make this a very exciting season. I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with Flip as our program continues to evolve.”