(Photo Courtesy of Hampton Athletics)
Hampton announced the hiring of Chazz Woodson just over two weeks ago, making him the third coach in the program’s short history.
The hire also marks somewhat of a homecoming for Woodson, who grew up in Norfolk, Va., and has family that attended Hampton.
“I have always been interested in the prospect of lacrosse at an HBCU, which is why it’s (Hampton) has been on my radar since the beginning. But it’s also home for me. I grew up 20 minutes away from Hampton University,” Woodson said in an interview with Lacrosse Bucket. “My aunt went to Hampton University and it’s perhaps the reason why I grew up in Virginia and was able to play the sport of lacrosse for the coaches I played for and allow that to take me to college and the professional ranks.”
Being so close to home and knowing the area well, Woodson says that he feels that he does have somewhat of an advantage. “It certainly gives me an advantage in knowing the programs there, the coaches, and just being able to navigate that space…From a Division I standpoint and from being homegrown, I think it does provide me with a different sense of how to recruit the area,” Woodson said.
But while there are certainly some advantages that Woodson has being at Hampton, there are also some challenges. The Pirates are still very much an up and coming, growing program, and they are coming off of a season in which they went 0-6 before the season was cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. However, their 2020 schedule pegged the Pirates against the most DI opponents in program history, but they are still searching for that historic win.
Additionally, Woodson has a very unique situation in front of him as he makes the jump from being a high school head coach to a college head coach with no college coaching experience at all.
“There are things that I have to learn and do that I required to do as a Division I head coach, and I am already starting to learn those. I have great resources behind me to help with that, ” Woodson said. “On the field, coaching is coaching. The X’s and O’s don’t really change from high school to college and it’s about relationships and building relationships between individuals and as a team. That is going to be our foundation.”
Another challenge that college programs all over the country have had to deal with is the Coronavirus Outbreak, which cancelled the 2020 season in March and will limit many programs around the country this fall. And that can be especially hard for first-year head coaches, in particular.
Woodson won’t get to be on a field with his new team until January, but he says he has been able to talk with every player and start building those relationships that are needed to instill a culture at Hampton.
“It is definitely a crazy year and we are navigating that already,” Woodson said. “We won’t be in person this fall, but we will still be checking in, doing film work, and making sure that the guys are doing what they need to do to stay sharp…It definitely won’t be an offseason and we are going to work.”
One aspect of the culture that Woodson aims to bring to Hampton is consistency. As mentioned, he is the third head coach in the program’s five-year history. And he looks for that fact to remain true for a lot longer than just one or two seasons. “It was important for me to decide that if I do it that it will be a long term move, I really want to build it so that it is a place that is home and take it to the next level,” Woodson said.
2020 has seen the Black Lives Matter movement reach an all-time high following the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Many in the lacrosse community have spoken out and there has been more movement for change in the game than we have ever seen before. And with Woodson, one of the most prominent black players in the game’s history, taking over the only DI HBCU program during this time, he says there is no way to not see this move at this time and not recognize the significance of it.