Miyashita ready to lead alma mater in first year



Men’s lacrosse head coach Mark Miyashita is ready to coach his alma mater for the first season. (Canisius College file photo)


By Canio Marasco III

Sports Reporter

The Canisius men’s lacrosse season ended in disappointing fashion last year. After ending the regular season 4-2 in conference play, the Griffs were bounced in the first round of the MAAC Tournament. The jarring end to the season didn’t end there however – over the summer, longtime head coach Randy Mearns left to build St. Bonaventure’s upcoming lacrosse program.

Mearns took over as the head of the Griffs program in 1999. At the time, the men’s lacrosse program was rather weak. Only nine years old, the lacrosse program was in its infancy and still trying to establish its footing in Division I. In a span of 10 years, Mearns took the Griffs from perennial losers to MAAC champions. Mearns ended his career at Canisius with two MAAC championships, and a program that was firmly established in the conference.

To fill the position Mearns left behind, the Griffs turned to former-standout player, Mark Miyashita. The Canisius Hall of Fame member was a three-year captain while playing under Mearns, and ended his career with the Griffs near the top of every offensive category. Miyashita played several seasons in the National Lacrosse League before he started his coaching career.

Miyashita made a name for himself as the offensive coordinator at Sacred Heart, where he built one of the best offenses in their conference.

He said being able to lead the program he was once so successful in is a dream come true.

“I’m thrilled,” Miyashita said. “I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have the opportunity to come back to my alma mater, and lead the program I played for. It’s a really exciting time for myself, and my wife, who is also an alum. It makes it just that much more special for us.”

Miyashita said that he never thought the opportunity would arise. He, like many, was caught off guard when Mearns left. When he heard the news, he reached out to athletic director Bill Maher out of curiosity. As an alum, he wanted to ensure the Griffs’ would continue done the proper path. Through these conversations, Miyashita was considered as a candidate for the job, and eventually hired, with the backing of other former Canisius men’s lacrosse alums.   

Miyashita hasn’t exactly inherited an easy situation. Although Mearns built Canisius men’s lacrosse into a solid program, they have sputtered the past couple years. The Griffs have bounced between two and four wins in the conference the past five years – a fairly mediocre record. This season, the Griffs have been picked to finish sixth in the MAAC preseason poll. Miyashita said the poll means nothing.

“Preseason polls don’t mean anything at the end of the day,” he stated. “It’s great for the bulletin board and hopefully it ignites a little extra fire in the guys. But, we’re not concerned about polls or anything like that. We’re on a day-by-day basis of improving.”

The first-time head coach will be able to rely on the exceptional play of junior defender Logan Monroe and senior attacker Connor Kearnan, who were both picked as preseason First-Team All-MAAC players. The two team leaders will be paramount in the Griffs success this season.

“They’re huge,” Miyashita said. “They’re two members of our leadership group in terms of our captains. So, at either end, the offensive or defensive, they’re guys we’re going to lean on to help set the standard for what our program is about. But, there are also 10 guys on the field at any given moment. So, there is going to be eight other guys helping them as well.”

As Miyashita prepares for his first campaign as the leader of a men’s lacrosse program, he said his personal goals and the team’s goals are one in the same. The goal is simply to win.

“We want to qualify for the MAAC Tournament,” he said. “Once we get into the MAAC Tournament, let’s see if we can win that first round game, and then we’ll worry about winning that championship. Before that, I think it’s about establishing new cultural norms and standards for the program of how Canisius lacrosse is going to be from here on out.”


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