In 2013-14, UMBC head lacrosse coach Don Zimmerman will enter his 28th year as a Division I college head coach. He will approach his 21st campaign at UMBC with the same energy level as he did in 1984, when he became the first man to lead a team - the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays - to a national championship in his first season as a head coach.
Zimmerman won two more national titles at Hopkins, then began to build the program at UMBC, starting in the spring of 1994. He piloted the Retrievers to four consecutive NCAA Division I tournament appearances from 2006-09, a feat accomplished for the first time in the schoolís Division I lacrosse history. In 2009, the Retrievers posted a 12-4 record and won their third America East title in four years. The previous season, UMBC set a new school record with 11 straight wins before a tough 10-9 loss at second-seeded Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Championships. UMBC climbed to a school-record ranking of No. 5 by the USILA in mid-April and was ranked No. 6 in the final poll.
In 2013-14, UMBC head lacrosse coach Don Zimmerman will enter his 28th year as a Division I college head coach. He will approach his 21st campaign at UMBC with the same energy level as he did in 1984, when he became the first man to lead a team - the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays - to a national championship in his first season as a head coach. Zimmerman won two more national titles at Hopkins, then began to build the program at UMBC, starting in the spring of 1994. He piloted the Retrievers to four consecutive NCAA Division I tournament appearances from 2006-09, a feat accomplished for the first time in the schoolís Division I lacrosse history. In 2009, the Retrievers posted a 12-4 record and won their third America East title in four years. The previous season, UMBC set a new school record with 11 straight wins before a tough 10-9 loss at second-seeded Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Championships. UMBC climbed to a school-record ranking of No. 5 by the USILA in mid-April and was ranked No. 6 in the final poll.Zimmerman was named America East Conference Coach of the Year by his colleagues in both 2008 and 2009. The Retriever mentor was the 2008 Coach of the Year in LaxPower menís lacrosse Fan Awards, he achieved career win No. 200 in 2010 and is 10th among active coaches with 202 victories in 24 campaigns.
"UMBC is a well-known and respected name in terms of Division I lacrosse, and the volume of emails from (prospective student-athletes) that we receive today versus six or seven years ago is incomparable," Zimmerman said. "The kids realize that we are a high-tier program. We have been champions of the America East Conference; the NCAA appearances go a long way and the reputation of the university has also made us more attractive because kids and parents are not only looking for an opportunity to play Division I lacrosse, but to get a quality education.
"I have been very fortunate to be at good schools and worked with good people and I love what I do."
In the spring of 2008, Zimmerman signed a six-year contract extension to remain at UMBC through the 2013-14 season.
"Weíve had some success and that is due to the quality of players that we have been able to attract," Zimmerman said. "It takes everything to fall into place; Iíve had good assistants, weíve recruited good players and gotten tremendous support from the university, and as a result we have been successful. Coaching lacrosse at UMBC is both challenging and rewarding. Having the opportunity to work with quality young men with a unified goal of competing for a national championship and playing lacrosse in Baltimore - the cradle of the sport - is something special."
"Don Zimmerman is one of the nationís top collegiate lacrosse coaches," UMBC president Dr. Freeman Hrabowski said at that time. "He is a gifted teacher and mentor, and we are delighted he will remain at UMBC, keeping our lacrosse program nationally competitive."
The respect that the Retriever mentor has garnered nationally and globally truly resonated in 2013. He was part of a nine-member class (the 19th overall) to be inducted into the Johns Hopkins University Athletic Hall of Fame on Sat., April 20. The previous evening, the partisan crowd at Albany gave him a standing ovation when he was honored before a rivalry game between the Retrievers and the Great Danes.
Later that spring, Coach Zimmermanís book, Menís Lacrosse, co-authored with Peter England, was released by Human Kinetics and received outstanding reviews from the lacrosse community. Less, than two weeks later, the Retriever mentor led the lacrosse program to Japan for the third time in the past nine years. He is credited with the widespread popularity of the game in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Widely recognized as one of this nationís premier teachers of the sport of lacrosse, Zimmerman traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to assist in the development of the game in the South American country in December 2004. It was not Zimmermanís first venture in the international development of the sportóin fact, the Retriever mentor has taught the game on four different continents. He has also spent time in Europe (Great Britain) and Asia (Japan).
"The game of lacrosse is the best game out there and I would love to see it played in the Olympics," Zimmerman said. "Itís incumbent upon us to introduce and develop the game when opportunities occur in order to reach that goal."
"My coaching philosophy has always focused on teaching the fundamentals - the little things that make the big difference." Zimmerman said. "Lacrosse is a game of skill and precision, best played when using a simple, basic approach."
In the spring of 1993, UMBC changed the complexion of its lacrosse program by appointing Don Zimmerman as its head coach. Success did not happen overnight. After a 7-7 campaign in 1994, UMBC struggled to records of 4-9 and 3-9 the next two seasons. But even then, the program was changing. A position was created for a full-time assistant coach in 1996, and UMBC recruited a trio of players from The Boysí Latin School that formed the nucleus of an evolving team.
In 1997, UMBC was the most improved team in the country, finishing at 9-3 and posting its highest final season USILA ranking of No. 16. The 1998 season opened with tough losses to Navy and Towson, but a now more experienced team rebounded by winning eight of the next 10 games, including a victory over No. 9 Georgetown. Then, on May 2, 1998, the Retrievers shocked everyone in the lacrosse world except themselves when they scored a 12-8 victory over No. 1 Maryland. The victory propelled UMBC into its first-ever NCAA Division I Championship appearance and made the hard work of Zimmerman and his staff worth the wait.
The 1999 Retrievers proved the previous year was no fluke, as wins over Navy, North Carolina and Maryland once again landed UMBC in the NCAA Tournament. In 2003, UMBC took the second-biggest leap in the lacrosse power rankings, from 29th to 13th. In its second America East Conference season in 2005, UMBC captured the regular-season title by defeating Albany on its home field. In 2006, the Retrievers captured their first America East championship and earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament. In 2007, Zimmermanís squad became the first UMBC Division I team to advance in NCAA Tournament play with a first-round win at Maryland.
In the spring of 2005, UMBC Athletics completed a $5 million stadium locker room complex. Among its many amenities, it is the first building on campus to be completely outfitted with fiber-optic cable. Moreover, the stadium field was outfitted with Sportexeís Momentum turf, the same product used at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
"Our goal has always been to get ourselves to the same level as the other top teams in the country," Zimmerman said. "What weíre doing in lacrosse runs parallel to what weíre doing as a university. We feel we have an outstanding product at UMBC and we want people to know that."
Zimmermanís entire playing and coaching career has been based on winning. He led Johns Hopkins (14-0) to the national title in 1984 and piloted the Blue Jays to another pair of championships in 1985 and 1987. The Baltimore native chalked up 73 wins against only 15 losses in his seven years at Homewood. After leaving JHU after the 1990 season, Zimmerman served as an assistant coach at Loyola College from 1991-93.
Zimmerman prepped at St. Paulís School, where he was a member of three MSAA Conference championship teams. A 1976 graduate of Johns Hopkins, Zimmerman played under the late Henry Ciccarone, received Honorable Mention All-America recognition and was awarded the Turnbull-Reynolds Award for Sportsmanship and Leadership in 1976. In his first season after graduation, Zimmerman was named coach of the Hopkins B squad.
After spending a year as assistant coach at Princeton in 1978, he joined Willie Scroggsí staff at North Carolina. The Tar Heels won a pair of national titles (1981, 1982) in Zimmermanís four years in Chapel Hill. He then returned to his alma mater the following year, and when Coach Ciccarone retired after the 1983 season, Zimmerman became head coach.
On Jan. 25, 2002, Coach Zimmerman was honored with induction into the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the United States Lacrosse Hall of Fame. UMBC standout defenseman Gary Clipp (Ď77) joined him as an inductee in a gala affair at Martinís West in Baltimore.
Zimmerman also served as an assistant coach of the United States team in the 1986 World Games and was a coach for the South squad for the 2002 North-South All Star game. Zimmerman and his wife, Dorothy, reside in Towson. The Zimmermans have two children, Emily and Jake, who just completed four years on the UMBC lacrosse squad in 2013.
YEAR RECORD/SCHOOL Postseason
1984 14-0 JHU NCAA Champions
1985 13-1 JHU NCAA Champions
1986 10-2 JHU NCAA Tournament appearance
1987 10-3 JHU NCAA Champions
1988 9-2 JHU NCAA Tournament appearance
1989 11-2 JHU NCAA Tournament appearance
1990 6-5 JHU NCAA Tournament appearance
1994 7-7 UMBC
1995 4-9 UMBC
1996 3-9 UMBC
1997 9-3 UMBC
1998 9-5 UMBC NCAA Tournament appearance
1999 11-4 UMBC NCAA Tournament appearance
2000 7-7 UMBC
2001 5-7 UMBC
2002 5-7 UMBC
2003 7-6 UMBC
2004 6-8 UMBC
2005 7-8 UMBC
2006 10-5 UMBC AEC Champions/NCAA Tournament
2007 11-6 UMBC NCAA Tournament quarterfinals
2008 12-4 UMBC AEC Champions/NCAA Tournament
2009 12-4 UMBC AEC Champions/NCAA Tournament
2010 4-9 UMBC
2011 6-7 UMBC
2012 5-8 UMBC
2013 7-8 UMBC
Career 220-146 (.601)
13 NCAA Tournament Appearences/3 NCAA Championships
1976 - All-American, Johns Hopkins University
1981 - NCAA Champions, North Carolina, Assistant Coach
1982 - NCAA Champions, North Carolina, Assistant Coach
1984 - NCAA Champions, Johns Hopkins University, Head Coach
1985 - NCAA Champions, Johns Hopkins University, Head Coach
1986 - United States World Games, Assistant Coach
1987 - NCAA Champions, Johns Hopkins University, Head Coach
2002 - North-South All-Star Classic, Assistant Coach
2003 - Inducted into Greater Baltimore Chapter of
United States Lacrosse Hall of Fame
2006 - America East Conference Coach of the Year
2008 - America East Conference Coach of the Year
Lax Power Coach of the Year (Fan Awards)
2009 - America East Conference Coach of the Year
2013- Inducted into Johns Hopkins University Athletics' Hall of Fame
13 NCAA Tourament appearances
43 All-Americans produced as a head coach