ERIE — Earlier this spring, Erie athletic director Justin Carpenter announced that his growing school and vastly improved sports programs across the board would add boys lacrosse (as well as girls swimming) to the mix for the spring 2019.
The next step was finding the right coach to step right in a put his stamp on the Tigers program from the get-go.
Nick Mandia was the perfect man for the job.
The Philadelphia native, who grew up playing the game through high school and then in college at Eastern University — just outside of Philly — has been the head man at Littleton's Chatfield for the past two seasons and will start the co-op program at Erie in the spring.
"When this opportunity presented itself, it was exciting for a multitude of reasons," said Mandia, who had hopes of landing a physical education teaching job when he came to Colorado two years ago, but it never surfaced at Chatfield. "The administration sold me on my first visit with their enthusiasm and there is a lot of support for the game in the community.
"I like the pressure that comes with it, because obviously people care and they want to succeed. That's the kind of atmosphere I want to be in."
Mandia's team went 7-9 last season, winning three of its last four games including a nice 9-7 win against Rocky Mountain to close out the season.
At Erie, Mandia will have the luxury of being able to pull from all of the St. Vrain schools, including players that have already been in established programs around the BoCo area.
"That's another reason I'm excited about this, we are building from ground zero and everything that we do, I can have my touch and my spin on it," said Mandia, 31, who is getting married later this summer.
Mandia also spent time as an assistant coach, specializing on the offensive side, at his collegiate alma mater after her graduated as the school all-time leader in assists and total points. He called Colorado a "growing hotbed with very strong lacrosse at the highest level," and one of the big reasons he came to the state in the first place.
He is confident his style that has been successful at all of his stops will play at Erie as he works to mold student-athletes coming from all over the district.
"I coach with energy. I coach with passion and I coach with intensity because I want my players to be that way both on and off the field," Mandia said. "We talk a lot about toughness and we define it in both a mental and physical form.
"A team that is playing exactly how I would hop they would, they are going to be working on the small thing. They are going to make sure they are winning every ground ball and giving maximum effort on the field, they are communicating, valuing the ball and all those little things show mental toughness."