Pursuing his passion for lacrosse, Tahoma High graduate heads to England for coaching job
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
August 18, 2010 · Updated 6:18 PM
Dan Aas was ready to get out of his cubicle.
Aas, a 2003 Tahoma High graduate, decided to find a new opportunity in lacrosse, a sport he picked up at 14 years old.
He landed a job coaching in Exeter, England.
His interest in lacrosse began simply enough.
"I just saw some posters around the school and I wanted to try something new and I went for it," Aas said. "I'm really glad I did. It's definitely given me some good opportunities over the years."
In lacrosse, there are four positions, Aas explained: goalies, attack men, midfielders and defense men.
He played defenseman and has long been a defensive specialist.
Vern Smith began Tahoma Lacrosse, then Maple Valley Lacrosse, in 1999. Aas was one of his first young players.
"He'd never played before," Smith said. "He was three years on my varsity team and captain his senior year. Probably the best defenseman I've ever coached."
Smith began playing in 1965 and has started a handful of other clubs in western Washington.
"He's just a very intelligent, great young man," Smith said. "In high school all my key lacrosse players, including dan, brought a level of talent, discipline and determination to the game. Dan was a real student of the game and by the time he was a senior it was like having another coach on the field."
In fact, as a senior, Aas got his first taste of coaching when he assisted that year with a middle school team for his senior project. Later he worked a summer lacrosse camps, coaching players from the age of 5 to 18, and eventually moved into coaching with the Sammamish Lacrosse Club in Bellevue as a defensive coordinator.
After high school he played at Whittier College, a Division III school near Los Angeles, California.
"I started all four years, which came as a bit of a surprise because Washington isn't really a hotbed of lacrosse," Aas said. "I got to play in the NCAA tournament one year and I was a captain two years."
He also studied abroad in England while he was at Whittier and played while he was there.
Smith said that was how his former player began developing those connections in the UK.
Because he earned an associate's degree from Green River Community College through the Running Start program, Aas had enough credits going into Whittier to start as a junior academically, but because he had athletics eligibility he made the most of his time as a student by double majoring in political science and economics.
"After I graduated I realized I wasn't good enough to play professionally, so, I got into coaching," he said.
So, when he wasn't working for an environmental consulting firm, he was coaching with the Sammamish Lacrosse high school varsity club. It is one of 49 high school teams in the state that competes during the spring sport season. It is not sanctioned by the Washington State Interscholastic Athletic Association at this time, though.
Just 25 years old, Aas realized that he wanted to see if he could get into coaching full time and knew there were opportunities overseas.
"The past couple years I've been working in an office environment as an environmental consultant in a cubicle," he said. "I wanted to do something that was my passion. So, I applied for jobs in Germany and England and even Bulgaria."
In England he was accepted into a program that is generally geared toward recent college graduates. The idea is for him to coach several levels in an effort to grow the sport.
His playing and coaching experience since graduating college made him an attractive candidate, Aas said, so "they though I would be a good fit for the university level coach."
He plans to leave at the end of August.
In the U.S., lacrosse is played in the spring, but in the UK, Aas said, it's a fall and winter sport that runs in the same time frame as the soccer season.
"I'll be coaching both the men's and women's (university) teams," he said. "In addition to that, I have two other main responsibilities in this position. One is to create an intramural team. The other thing is to create a team for the city of Exeter. I'm going to be busy, but it's something I'm excited about because I love it."
He has a one-year contract, but Aas said he plans to be there at least two years in order to do the job properly.
Smith is thrilled to see one of his former players have a chance at a job like this.
"It's fabulous. What an opportunity," Smith said. "Here's a guy who could, frankly, go to law school, get his doctorate in economics... yet his passion for his game has grown. I know he'll do really well. He's talented and he's really a student of the game and I think he's realized the impact coaches can have on young men so I'm really pleased he's pursuing this opportunity."Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at email@example.com or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.