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Joe Ernst Named First Men’s Lacrosse Coach

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    Joe Ernst

20-year lacrosse veteran will help Southwestern build first varsity program in Texas

Joe Ernst has been named head coach of the new varsity men’s lacrosse team at Southwestern University. Ernst comes to Southwestern from Mercyhurst North East, where he began a lacrosse program and has served as the head men’s lacrosse coach for the past five seasons. He started at Southwestern Jan. 1.

“This is a historic time for Southwestern as we embark on fielding the first NCAA men’s lacrosse program in Texas,” said Glada Munt, director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “Coach Ernst rose to the top of a very competitive national search and we are confident that he is the right person to lead us in the transition from a highly successful club program to a top-notch Division III program. We are delighted with the energy, enthusiasm, and love for the game of lacrosse that he is bringing to the Southwestern community.”  

Ernst said he is very excited about the opportunity that Southwestern has given him to create the first varsity men’s lacrosse program in Texas. “There is tremendous support from the university and athletic department which will allow us to mold a lacrosse tradition of excellence in a relatively short period of time,” he said. 

During his time at Mercyhurst, Ernst built a program from the ground up with a philosophy of developing his players into strong players, students and young men. He mentored eight all-conference players, 12 all-region players and 10 Academic All-Americans, and increased the number of wins each season. 

Ernst grew the program at Mercyhurst from 12 players in his first season to nearly 30 in the 2007-2008 school year.  He will continue his coaching and recruiting philosophy at Southwestern and states, “We are looking for hardworking student-athletes who want to become a part of something truly special. We will build our team around three basic philosophies: Pirate lacrosse players will have the highest character on the field, in the classroom and in social settings. They will be committed to their studies and athletic endeavors. And, they will be competitive in all aspects of their lives.”  

Legendary University of Virginia Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Dom Starsia said Ernst is one of the most promising young coaches in the sport. “This is a great hire for Southwestern and a terrific opportunity for Joe,” Starsia said. “He will be an outstanding ambassador for the growth of the game and the Southwestern community is going to enjoy getting to know him. Lacrosse in Texas has taken a strong step forward.”

Prior to his arrival at Mercyhurst, Ernst spent time as an assistant at Marymount University, a D-III school in Arlington, Va., and as head coach at Buffalo State College.  He also coached three seasons at Providence High School in Charlotte, N.C., winning a league championship in just his second season at the helm.  Ernst was invited to assist with the tryouts for the U.S. National U-19 Men’s Team in 2002 and was selected to serve as the assistant coach for the U.S. Masters Team that participated in the World Lacrosse Festival in London, Ontario, Canada in 2006.  He has amassed a 112-75 record over his 16 years of coaching. 

Ernst is a 1992 graduate of Siena College, where he majored in finance and played attack for the school’s D-I lacrosse program.  He has been playing lacrosse for over 20 years and continues to play through a variety of clubs.