Mike Pressler was ready to step down as one of the country’s most decorated college lacrosse coaches, but he wasn’t ready to leave the sidelines completely.
Pressler was announced as the new head coach of the Highland Park club program on Monday, less than a week following his retirement after 16 seasons at Bryant University in Rhode Island.
He will take over a program with seven Texas High School Lacrosse League Division I state titles, the most recent coming in 2015. Pressler replaces Rich Moses, whose five-year tenure ended this spring with a first-round playoff loss to Austin Westlake.
“The chance to coach high school and help lead a program like Highland Park is a great privilege and opportunity to give back to a game that has meant so much to me,” Pressler said. “I look forward to developing not only lacrosse players, but also young men who can be leaders on and off the field.”
Pressler, 62, has been a college coach for almost four decades. He is best known for spending 16 years at Duke, including a national runner-up finish in 2005, when he was named the national coach of the year after the Blue Devils won a school-record 17 games.
He was forced out the following year as part of a scandal in which three Duke players were falsely accused of rape. That prompted two financial settlements and a public apology from the university after the alleged victim’s claims were proven baseless, Pressler and the players were exonerated, and the lead prosecutor in the case was disbarred.
Pressler was hired by Bryant in 2007 and spearheaded that program’s transition to the Division I level, eventually reaching the NCAA tournament five times in the past nine years. He won 377 games overall, including his stints at Virginia Military Institute and Ohio Wesleyan.
The Connecticut native ranks sixth all-time for career wins among coaches at all NCAA levels. He was head coach of the 2010 U.S. Men’s National Team, which won gold at the ILF World Championships in Manchester, England.
Pressler has been inducted into the Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame as well as the hall of fame at Washington and Lee University, where he starred in both football and lacrosse before graduating in 1982.
“We are excited with the opportunity to have a coach of his caliber in our community and leading our teams from first grade through high school,” said Ryan Moss, board president of Highland Park Lacrosse. “We look forward to his leadership and an exciting new chapter for our program.”