Andy Towers Goes Pro Again - this Time at the Helm
Andy Towers is big. In personality, stature, voice, ambition, passion and truth. New Canaan is lucky to have him not only because he is now head coach of Chaos, one of six newly minted teams which comprise the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL); his hometown is blessed because he and his wife Carlene came back to raise their own family in “NC” – and he happens to volunteer coach for New Canaan’s youth lacrosse program. His fifth grader’s house team jersey reads Brown, and that’s no coincidence; a Brown alum, Andy is one of the “dad coaches” along with his brother Tom and friend George.
However, Andy doesn’t check boxes of volunteering just to say he’s giving back. He has created a benchmark most parents will never be able to meet because he is talented, tough, kind and committed about coaching whether he is on grass fields with fifth graders or on turf with high schoolers, college players, or pros. He is consistent, he is realistic, he instills just the right amount of intimidation, and the force of nature that is Andy Towers commands respect for the man, the coach, and the lacrosse legend.
If you’re not doing something right on the field, he will tell you what it is. If you are doing something right on the field, he’ll tell you, but you don’t get to rest on your laurels. Either harsh truth, tough love or anything to make you a better player – perhaps even via coarse language from time to time – players and their parents don’t question Coach Towers. He is the kind of guy you want to tell your teen to clean up his room. Your kid can’t claim that he doesn’t hear Coach Towers.
Known to greet other men with a chest bump that knocks them back a foot or two, Andy is viewed by some of the local lacrosse moms as a teddy bear – one who growls from time to time and gets results from the kids.
I was fortunate to catch Andy for a conversation recently in an attempt to learn more about one of our locals who has achieved so much in his line of work.
Q: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Any little kid dreams of being a pro, and I liked football and basketball most. I thought, “I’m going to be in the NBA,” but (laughing) it started becoming clear that I wouldn’t. Playing D1 lacrosse became my goal after watching the Final Four every Memorial Day weekend. What I was striving for then felt appropriate and achievable.
Q: You breathe and bleed lacrosse. Has it been that way since you were a youth player?
My brother, my cousin played, and my dad helped start the youth program, so that’s how I started playing. As I got older and reached high school, I was more drawn into lacrosse. I was lucky enough to find success with lacrosse in high school, and I was fortunate to be able to find success beyond high school when I played at Brown, coached at Dartmouth, and now.
Q: You coach so many demographics. Describe your coaching style, and how you do or don’t adjust your style per group/team. How do you motivate a sixth grader as opposed to a professional player?
I treat everything the same, and I pride myself on rewarding players who demonstrate focus, effort, toughness, energy, and good sportsmanship. Not everyone gets to play on teams, at camps or in clinics, so I remind players that they aren’t owed this opportunity; their payback (to their parents) is to compete as hard as possible and to show that focus and energy every time.
As for dealing with pros… if you have to motivate a pro, then they won’t be pro for very long. Motivation is not a problem. They are always fighting for a spot on the game day roster, so motivation is built-in. They are always fighting for a spot. What will be very telling is when you have a player who is more talented but maybe not as motivated. I don’t know a coach who cares who plays on game day; you want to win on game day, so you put the players out there who put team needs in front of themselves.
Q: The tagline for your PLL Team Chaos is: “Of passion and sting, with unseen intensity, a tremendous source of energy.” Were you involved in creating this tagline? It seems to embody you.
First, I take that question as a compliment. And no, I wasn’t. I am excited and humbled. And...(laughing) I would have to agree with you.
Q: What are the best parts of being in your hometown of New Canaan?
The greatest attraction for my wife and me is that our kids get to play sports and go to school where everyone is extremely passionate about working to their potential. This town is filled with hyper successful men and women in business and in their careers, who themselves achieved success in sports at high levels, and now they are volunteers and coaches. For us, we put our kids in a situation to also be taught and coached by people who are equally passionate.
Q: You are always on the go. How do you get family time and relax?
That’s what I work for: the most time I can with my wife and kids, at their games, family vacations, sitting and watching TV. I schedule all of my work around my family and do everything to maximize the time with them. I am fortunate that I can plan when I work.
Q: I’m sure we could get quite a New Canaan contingent to come see Chaos play, and there are two PLL game weekends at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. Can we arrange a meet-the-player scenario and do autographs after the game?
I would love to set that up and see that happen. It’s up to NBC Sports since we operate within their framework. All the games will be televised as well.
Q: Many view you as a role model. You are a strong person and coach, physically and mentally. How should players fuel their bodies and minds?
I appreciate you saying that; thank you.
The true measure of success is defined by proactively eliminating effort-related reasons for being successful. Success equals maximizing your chances to gain a desired result in life. Nobody makes 100% on every test, but if you can look yourself in the eye and feel good about yourself whether it’s sports, your job, your body of work… It is critical to evaluate yourself by the controllable – which is your effort - not by your limitations. I always put the emphasis on mental toughness, attitude, energy and effort.
As training camp for PLL wraps up and we head into Memorial Day weekend, we should all keep in mind what Andy keeps at the forefront: family, effort, attitude, and perhaps a little bit of lacrosse.
Both photos for this article were contributed.
Top photo: Chaos Head Coach Andy Towers during the recent PLL Draft.
Bottom photo: Andy Towers in the late 80s playing for New Canaan High School.
Bio for Andy Towers:
Founded by Andy Towers in 2002, Lacrosse Draws is an organization committed to helping young players succeed in their mission to become the best players and people that they can be by attacking life with focus, energy, and toughness.
Coach Towers was just named the Head Coach of CHAOS Lacrosse Club of the new Professional Lacrosse League, Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). He was also recently named a coach for the Connecticut Box Lacrosse League. In addition, Towers brings over 19 years of Division 1 College coaching experience to Lacrosse Draws, most recently at Dartmouth College, where he served as the Head Men's Lacrosse Coach from 2009-2014. He also had coaching stops at Brown University, Yale University, Fairfield University, and the University of Hartford. He also coaches boys’ varsity lacrosse at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, CT.
Recently inducted into the US Lacrosse - Connecticut Hall of Fame as well as the Brown University Sports Hall of Fame, Towers had an illustrious career as a player. After earning All-American as a junior at New Canaan HS in CT, he went on to make the 1988 19 & Under USA Team. At Brown, he led the Bruins to Ivy and New England Championships, earned Division 1 All-American 3 times at 2 different positions (2X 1st-Team AA at midfield, once HM at attack), All-Ivy 3X, All-New England 3X, and Ivy League Player of the Year honors once. He held records at Brown for both goals in a season (59) and goals in a career (150) for 25 years, until each were broken in 2016. After college, Towers continued his playing career in the professional indoor (National Lacrosse League - Philadelphia Wings, Boston Blazers, NY Saints) and outdoor (Major League Lacrosse - Boston Cannons, Bridgeport Barrage) leagues, earning All-Star Honors in Major League Lacrosse while leading the league in face-off winning percentage at 58%. Towers is credited with creating many of the techniques currently used by the top face-off men in the game and mentoring All-World Face-Off Legends Chris Eck (Team USA) and Geoff Snider (Team Canada).
Towers currently resides in New Canaan, CT with his wife Carlene, daughter Tyler (15), son James (12), and dog Franc (4).