James Purpura Returns to VMI as Head Coach

(Photo Courtesy of VMI Athletics)

VMI has announced the hiring of James Purpura as the program’s next head men’s lacrosse coach. This hiring comes after John Birnser left his post at VMI to take over at Culver Military Academy, Ind. 

Chris Jastrzembski was first to report the news this afternoon. 

This will be Purpura’s second stint on staff at VMI. He serves as the Keydets offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 2017 and 2018. During his time running the Keydets’ offense, VMI averaged 12.50 points per game in 2018 and 12.31 points per game in 2018, ranking as the 63rd best offense in DI both years. Additionally, the Keydets saw their shooting percentage improve from .216 in 2017 to .247 in 2018 under Purpura. 

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to return to VMI,” Purpura said. “I have continued to follow the program from afar and now for the opportunity to be at the helm of such a prideful program is a tremendous honor. I want to thank General Peay, Dr. Diles, and the search committee for bestowing their confidence in me to coach, teach, and mentor the Keydet lacrosse program. It’s important to me to be a part of an institution that strives for excellence in everything they do and I look forward to building a culture that’s committed to preparing our cadet-athletes for a lifestyle of winning,” Purpura said in a press release. 

Purpura returns to VMI following a two-year stint as the head coach at Arcadia, where he was named the 2019 Middle Atlantic Conference Coach of the Year and led the Knights to a 14-11 record over two seasons. Arcadia went 9-9 in 2019 and was 5-2 at the time the 2020 season was cut short due to the Coronavirus Outbreak. 

A Pittsford, N.Y. native and 2013 grad of SUNY Geneseo, Purpura got his start in coaching as an assistant at SUNY Brockport before serving as a grad assistant at Frostburg State in 2014. He served as the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Queens University of Charlotte in 2016 prior to his first stint at VMI. 

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