While Jim Dietsch may best known around Sussex County for his coaching career, the Indian River High School head boys’ lacrosse coach and director of the Tribe Lacrosse Youth Development Program was recently honored for his days as a player at the University of Maryland, getting a chance to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the program’s 1967 Big Ten and national championship with teammates last month.
At the ceremony held in College Park, the ’67 team was presented with their official USILA Championship rings, to commemorate their 9-5 Big Ten title victory over Johns Hopkins University and shared national title with the Blue Jays and Navy, now a half-century ago.
“It was fantastic getting to see everybody again. I couldn’t believe it, everybody was old — except for me, of course,” said Dietsch with a laugh.
After a ring ceremony and banquet, they also got a chance to cap the weekend by watching a new generation of Terps get the best of the Blue Jays on Saturday, April 29, in what was the team’s regular-season finale and still very much a highly-touted conference rivalry.
“We had a nice tailgate, then we had a reception Friday night. Then, Saturday, we went up in the press box. It was about 80 of us, with wives and children and grandchildren, at the ring ceremony,” said Dietsch.
“The Hopkins/Maryland rivalry always adds to it. We went down on the field in the first quarter and, while they were there, they scored three or four goals. To be able to see that was just the icing on the cake.”
During his playing days, Dietsch served as face-off specialist on a University of Maryland team that went 8-1.
He’d go on to coach on two national championship teams at his alma mater, in 1973 and 1975, eventually taking over as head coach at Belmont Abbey College in 2007 before “retiring” to Delaware in 2011 and helping launch both the high school program at Indian River and the area’s first youth program with Tribe.
Despite all of the national championships and accolades he’s been awarded in what’s now his 44th year of coaching, Dietsch still has much he aims to accomplishment in furthering the development in his new home in Sussex County of the sport to which he’s dedicated his life.
“It’s growing,” he said. “We’ve got 30 kids playing youth lacrosse on Tuesday and Thursday nights, so that’s the key. We’re trying to get them going, so when they get here they’ve played a couple years. That’ll make a big difference.”
He’s also getting some of his players at IR to help out with the program on Tuesday and Thursday nights after practice, lighting the torch as they continue to try to grow the sport from the ground up.
“The kids are involved and want to give back to the game, which is just great to see. Of course I’ve got to buy them pizza afterwards,” said Dietsch with a laugh. “It’s a lot after practicing all week, but we’re concentrating on trying to get a feeder program going. It’s all well worth it.”