SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Gary Gait is arguably the greatest lacrosse player of all-time. Now, he is set to take over for one of the greatest lacrosse coaches of all-time.
Monday, hall of famer John Desko announced his retirement from coaching, stepping down from a program he helped build after 40-plus years. Syracuse didn’t wait long in tabbing his replacement.
“It is an honor to be named the fifth head coach of this program, and I thank John Wildhack for giving me the opportunity,” Gait said. “I also want to thank John Desko for everything he means to Syracuse lacrosse and appreciate his help and support since I arrived at Syracuse. Coaching and developing the Syracuse women’s lacrosse program was phenomenal and I thank the coaching staff and players of that program, as well as the entire Athletics Department, for all their dedication and continued support. This is an exciting opportunity to be able to coach the team I made so many memories playing for, and my family and I are excited for this transition. The goal of every team I’ve ever coached was to win a championship and that goal will continue as the head coach of the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team.”New SU MLax Head Coach Gary Gait
Gait coming into the role of men’s head coach isn’t a surprise, Inside Lacrosse reported such Sunday, but that doesn’t mean this news isn’t as exciting. The 3-time national championship player has reinvigorated a program that has high standards. Former players and alums have taken to social media in support of the move and thanking Desko for his service.
After his legendary pro career, Gait joined the coaching ranks on the women’s side. He helped build the Maryland program as an assistant before doing the same, this time as head coach at SU for the last 14 years.
“Gary is as knowledgeable about the game of lacrosse as any person in the sport. He is the greatest player of the modern era,” said Director of Athletics John Wildhack. “As a coach he has excelled, leading our women’s lacrosse program to three National Championship game appearances. Gary has coached men’s lacrosse at the professional and international levels. He is the right person to follow in the legacy of Coach Desko, Coach Simmons Jr., Coach Simmons Sr. and Laurie Cox.”
As head coach of the women, Gait led the Orange to three national runner-up finishes in 2012, 2014 and 2021.
Prior to taking over the Orange women’s program, he spent two seasons as the head coach of the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League. In that tenure, he led the Mammoth to a pair of playoff appearances and a 2006 league championship.
He also coached four seasons in Major League Lacrosse with the Baltimore Bayhawks and won a pair of titles in 2002 and 2005.