Summer’s Gold, on LBI and Abroad, for U.S. Women’s National Lacrosse Team Coach

Aug 16, 2017

In early July, the U.S. women’s national lacrosse team arrived in England to prepare for international championship competition. A month later, the team crossed back over the Atlantic with two gold medals, after unbeaten runs in both the Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s World Cup and The World Games, a multi-sport event that featured lacrosse for the first time this year.

Ricky Fried, whose mandated term limit as national team head coach is at an end, will spend the remainder of the summer preparing for his next season as coach of the Georgetown University women’s lacrosse team, and relaxing at his family’s home in Surf City.

“I married into the Island,” Fried said with a laugh. Wife Halyna lived year ’round on LBI when they met, commuting to her teaching job at Shawnee. The couple got engaged at the top of Barnegat Lighthouse and were married on the beach at its foot. The reception was at The Boathouse in Beach Haven, now Parker’s Garage.

Fried’s position at Georgetown locates the family, which includes children Jack and Paige, in Maryland, but they travel to LBI for summers and many holidays. They spend a lot of time on the beach, and some at the bay; they ride bikes along the Island roads, and entertain friends and family.

“And this is where we plan to be when we retire,” Fried noted.

Before beginning his career as a coach, Fried played lacrosse at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and, after college, with the Philadelphia Wings. He subsequently worked as an assistant coach at Johns Hopkins University, then as an assistant coach at Georgetown, before taking the helm in 2004.

Two years later, Fried joined the U.S. women’s national lacrosse team as an assistant coach, later assuming the position of head coach in 2009 following the World Cup in the Czech Republic, in which the team won gold. The team again finished first in 2013, in Canada.

This summer, in England, the women claimed the top spot in the World Cup once more, then traveled to Poland to take World Games gold, in their inaugural appearance in the event.

As Fried pointed out, “There are some really interesting and unique sports in The World Games,” including tug-of-war, canoe, flying disc, airsport, jujitsu, fistball, indoor rowing, livesaving and orienteering.

“It’s kind of a stepping stone to work towards the Olympics,” he added.

As Fried is quoted in a US Lacrosse article following the win in The World Games finals, “We told (the team) in the locker room, ‘Regardless of what happens in the game, the sun is going to come up.’ But if you win the game, you’re going to be two-time world champions, and that will be the first time it’s ever been done.

“I’m really proud of the effort they put into this team. It would’ve been really easy to win the gold medal in England, take a break and mentally check out, but they didn’t do that.”

To commemorate the World Cup win, Fried’s sister-in-saw Cheryl Syminink, of Manahawkin, made special awards for the players. “It was an honor,” said Syminink. “It’s a one-of-a-kind piece that is custom for each player. Coach Fried is great to work with and the past few years I was given the opportunity to make awards for these very talented women. This year’s award was my favorite to make … and I hope they continue to take home the gold!”

“Cheryl’s really creative, and has made some great gifts for the team in the past,” Fried remarked.

Reflecting on his role as a coach, Fried explained, “The competition is the main attraction, but I also really enjoy the relationships you build with the players and their families.

“The biggest thing is to have a common goal, a mission, and to achieve that.”

He added, “On the national level, you have the opportunity to coach elite-level athletes. It makes you step up your game as a coach.”

Choosing his national team coaching staff, and traveling to other regions of the globe, were also major perks. “I was really fortunate to have something I really enjoy take me to other places,” and to sometimes have his wife and children join him and see the world, said Fried.

Now, due to the term limit for national team head coaches, Fried is “passing the baton on” and will focus on his Georgetown team and his family. “It was such a great experience, and I’m going out on a high note.

“If I get bored, I’ll be at the beach.”

 — Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

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