Bob Streeten, who led Corning East to 13 state finals and helped nearly 100 players receive Division I scholarships, won’t return as head coach of the combined Corning boys lacrosse team.
Streeten withdrew his name from consideration for the job Wednesday after initially applying for the position, which is appointed on a year-by-year basis.
“There definitely seemed to be a sense of a need for some change,” said Streeten, who called this a retirement. “I clearly sensed and felt that creating the same family atmosphere that I had accomplished at East wasn’t seeming to come together.
“I felt on the field — in terms of wins and losses — we certainly had accomplished something at least comparable to where we would have liked to have been. I didn’t seem to be as successful as I would have liked to have been as a coach at pulling boys from two different high schools together, even though we had success on the field.”
Corning had a 27-7 record under Streeten in its two seasons as a combined team after Corning East and Corning West merged in all sports before the 2010-11 school year. Five of those losses came against Ithaca, which advanced to the Class A state finals each season.
The Hawks lost to Ithaca in last year’s Section 4 Class A final and were eliminated by Binghamton, 8-4, this year in the semifinals and finished with a 13-4 record. It was the first time the Patriots beat a Streeten-coached team.
Streeten, who turns 57 in July, took over for Joe Corcoran as head coach at Corning East before the 1982 season. Streeten at one point guided the Trojans to 24 straight Section 4 championships, a streak that ended with a loss to Chenango Forks in 2009. East rebounded to win another sectional title in its final season in 2010.
Streeten compiled a 517-95 record at East and took the Trojans to the state finals 13 times, though the only team to break though Long Island’s dominance to win a championship was the 1990 squad. According to records at http://www.laxpower.com, Streeten ranks fifth in New York high school history with his 544 wins.
“He’s done an awful lot for lacrosse in the whole area,” said longtime Ithaca head coach Frank Welch, who played against Streeten before coaching against him. “He’s put a lot of kids in school. He’s been a sound lacrosse person at all of our league meetings and been a good friend. It’s going to be kind of odd coaching against someone else there.
“It’s always been fun competing against him and Corning kids. They’re always a well-coached and very talented group.”
In initially re-applying to be coach, Streeten said his mindset was, “Of course I want to continue to coach.” However, he had a change of heart over the weekend and decided it would be best for him and the program if someone else took over.
“I had the weekend to sort of sit and think about where I thought we’d be two years into the Hawk lacrosse experience,” Streeten said. “I didn’t see the progress I wanted and I started to think long and hard about what it was going to take doing it my way to get the Hawks to where I thought they needed to be.”
Streeten said some of the players didn’t share his vision in terms of competing in the state tournament year after year. He also acknowledged that his demanding style may have been hard for some to handle.
“I’ll take the first hit in the fact that my style of coaching is … I call it tough love,” he said. “Others call it harsh, others call it demanding, others call it effective. You could put whatever title you want on it. I did certainly make some adjustments in my style after the first year (of the combined team).”
With Streeten providing a lending hand, 94 of his players earned scholarships to Division I college teams. Numerous others went on to play Division II and III lacrosse, while some former players became coaches at the high school and college levels.
He has also been heavily involved in youth and adult leagues in the Corning area. Last year, he was a co-coach for the Champion All-American Showcase high school game in Florida.
“I still think it goes almost without saying that I’ve got a little bit of knowledge and experience at creating some successful teams and I’m very proud of that and happy Corning District gave me 31 years to work with these young men,” he said. “The number of e-mails and texts and phone calls that I’ve received (this week) has been uplifting.”
Even with all the championships and victories, he said the biggest source of pride is that so many of those players he was hard on benefited from it and let him know how much it helped in lacrosse and life.
“I think the thing that I take the most pride in is, almost without exception, almost 90 percent of the kids that received or needed the most tough love have become strong supporters and advocates as I move into the retirement phase of life,” Streeten said.
“One of the things that is always a recurring theme with me is life lessons go beyond passing and scoring and winning games.”
Streeten teaches history at Corning East High School and said he plans to return to that job next school year. He also plans to remain active teaching lacrosse to youth players, though he hasn’t had a chance to think far ahead.
“This was not in my plan. I wanted to go until I was 60,” he said. “As with those things in life that don’t go as you plan them, you have to work on an alternate plan B and hopefully be able to be successful at finding exactly what you’d like to continue to do.
“I’m still a little bit in shock that all this has happened as quickly as it has.”