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How This Coach, MLL All-Star & Family Man Does it All

Ever wonder what it’s like to play pro ball? The truth is, the pro lax life is a busy life. Most players work multiple jobs, coach, play and run clinics.

The big question is "How?" How do you swing all those roles without overworking and burning out? We chatted with Chesapeake Bayhawks’ attacker Matt Danowski for some perspective…here’s his take on balancing it all:

But first, meet Matt...

Matt Danowski, Duke alum and Chesapeake Bayhawks’ attacker, was a three-time first team All-American in college. With 353 points in his NCAA career, he’s the third highest scorer of all time for D1 lacrosse. He won the Tewaaraton Trophy, and the USILA's Lt. Raymond Enners Award twice, recognizing him as national player of the year.

It’s no surprise that he went pro. Drafted by the New Jersey Pride in 2008 and currently an attacker for the Bayhawks, the guy’s a legend. But not just on the field.

In addition to training and playing for the Bayhawks, Matt’s a full-time assistant coach at his alma mater, working with the Blue Devils’ attackmen. He’s also got a family – he’s married to Virginia Crotty (a Duke alum and former attacker for the Blue Devils’ women’s lacrosse team), and recently became a father for the first time.

Sufficed to say, he keeps's a quick snapshot of his schedule:

A day in the life...

6:45 a.m. – Danowski family up, including baby daughter Caroline (Coco).

7:10 a.m. – Drop off Coco at daycare, head to the office.

7:30 a.m. – Arrive at the office, review film, and strategize for upcoming game.

9:00 a.m.– Coaches meeting with John Danowski (head coach and dad), Ron Caputo & Alec Jernstedt (assistant coaches).

11:00 a.m. – Train for the MLL season, following the Bayhawks' specialized training program.

12:30 p.m. – Back to the office, prep for practice, and catch up on emails.

2:00 p.m. – Blue Devils lacrosse practice – drills, strategy, plays, and scrimmage.

5:30 p.m. – Pick up Coco from daycare.

6:00 p.m. – Back home, cook dinner and hang out with the family.

Evenings/Weekends – Blue Devils game, Bayhawks practice and game.

So, just to recap, he’s running offense for one of the best teams in the NCAA (they’ve won the national championship twice since Matt joined the coaching staff back in 2012), training 2+ hours a day, playing for the Bayhawks, and raising a family with his wife Virginia, a full-time senior media planner.

Three keys to balancing...

A strong support system that goes both ways. When we asked Matt about his crazy schedule, his first response was, “It’s funny…people ask me all the time, 'How do you balance everything you’ve got going on?' To be honest, I don’t - I have a whole support system behind me. It’s 100% a myth that you have to do everything by yourself. I think there’s strength in working together and supporting one another.” 

Matt gives a lot of credit to his wife Virginia - she's super supportive and they both work together to balance their careers and invest in their family, sharing responsibilities at home and with their daughter. The other coaches at Duke are supportive as well - Matt makes sure he is there for all of the Blue Devils' games and practices, but his coaching buddies (and dad!) understand if he has a tight schedule, or needs to fly out right after a game when the college and pro season overlap. Matt is also committed to sticking to the Bayhawks' training schedule, working out with several of the guys at Duke to help keep him accountable and really enjoy the time. 

An updated calendar (not to get too practical, but it's true). "Our lives are in our Google calendar," says Matt. "Couldn't keep it all straight otherwise." Matt and Virginia stay organized with a shared Google calendar, staying in the loop on work, family, and social commitments. They stay on top of organizing other resources as well. For one, Matt flies a ton - up and back from Maryland, and out to games for the Blue Devils and the Bayhawks. He keeps track and has been wracking up the frequent flyer miles for some time now, creating efficiencies.

A passion for what you're doing. Matt doesn't view his life as being overloaded or stressful. He loves watching the next generation of attackmen grow, cultivating their skills and serving as a mentor. He feels super lucky to get to play post-college with some of the best players in the MLL. And he's so excited to come home every night and spend time with Virginia and Coco. "When you love what you're doing, it doesn't seem so overwhelming," says Matt. "Being a husband, a father, a coach, a player...I love it all. Wouldn't trade it." 

If lax is your life too, you'll definitely relate to these 12 Things