Joe Starsia spent much of his childhood watching Virginia lacrosse games at Klöckner stadium. This season, he will return to the Klöckner sidelines as an assistant coach for the UVa men.
After growing up in Charlottesville, Joe decided to spend time away from the Cavalier's program, where his father Dom has coached for more than two decades.
"I've always been someone that wanted to make my own way in this business, never wanted to be perceived as trying to get something that I didn't earn because I am related to one of the great coaches," he says.
"I've had training with Joe's independent spirit throughout his life, so the fact that he was committed to going his own way was never really a surprise," added Dom.
Joe played lacrosse at Lynchburg College, and starting working on the Hornets' coaching staff after graduating and earning his master's of education. He later spent time as an assistant at Dickinson College and then Colgate before taking the job at UVa last September. Although he spent the early years of his career learning from other coaches, Joe says his coaching style is similar to his father's.
"The way he interacted with his team and the way he interacted with some of his guys, I definitely picked up on a lot of that stuff," he says. "I definitely stole some of that stuff and used it and continue to do that."
"There was a day in the fall where we were doing a film piece in the locker room," explains Dom. "I was sitting back in the far corner and Joe was talking defense with the group. I don't know if I actually closed my eyes or not, but I had a very conscious thought that 'wow, he sounds a lot like me.'"
For more than two decades, members of the UVa lacrosse program have become part of the Starsia family. Now, with two of them on the sidelines, Joe says that family atmosphere has grown even stronger.
"I think for our players, there's a sense that the things that I try to talk to them about on a daily basis, my son can now reinforce that that's actually the way I talk to my children," says Dom. "I think it helps sell the message a little bit."
"That's always been, from my perception, one of dad's real strengths as a coach, the way that he interacts with his guys and the culture he creates on the team," adds Joe. "We work really hard on the field, but it's also fun. We enjoy being around each other on a day to day basis, and that's kind of what makes this job as rewarding as it is."