Nebraska Lacrosse Hires New Coach: Chad Heber

Nebraska Lacrosse has announced the hiring of a new Head Coach. What makes little known Chad Heber a GREAT choice to run the Cornhusker program? Connor Wilson fills you in.
nebraska chad heber lacrosse
Heber as a Husker player.

Editor’s Note: The Nebraska Lacrosse Club has hired a new Head Coach after two coaches left the program for other pursuits. Below, you can see the email MCLAFan received making the announcement. Below that, and in italics, our own Connor Wilson gives a little added perspective on the hire!


Lincoln, Nebraska – The University of Nebraska Men’s Club Lacrosse Team is proud to announce the hiring of their new head coach, Chad Heber.

Heber comes to the Huskers after coaching this last year for the Nebraska High School State Champions, Lincoln Rampage. Heber also coached at Glenbrook South (Glenview, IL) at the freshman level in 2011.

Heber picked up his first lacrosse stick in 2006 while attending Nebraska. He joined the club team and started out playing close defense and backup goalie. In the last half of his first season, Heber switched to attack. Heber was a member of the only playoff qualifying Husker team in 2009.

nebraska chad heber lacrosse
Heber as a Husker player.

Heber is bringing his unrelenting energy and excitement for coaching and for the sport of lacrosse to the Huskers. “This is the greatest team sport. It was a privilege to play for this university, and now as head coach, wow! I am so pumped to get out there this fall and put the building blocks in place to have a successful spring.”

Heber takes over a team that is filled with young energized players looking to turn around the program after a rough 4-12 season last year. “This team is filled with raw, young, talented guys, and I know that they will give me, and this team, everything they have in them to win. We will be a competitive team.”


We have seen a number of coaching changes across the college spectrum, and as usual, the MCLA is leading the way in terms of  big hirings, firings and resignations.

The Chad Heber hiring might not have some of the glitz that other moves do, and Heber doesn’t really have a big name in the lacrosse world outside of Nebraska, but it could still be one of the better coaching moves we’ll see all year.  Let me explain why this is possible:

Heber only began playing the sport of lacrosse 6 years ago. For many, this is not a good sign, but for me, it has the potential to be a GREAT sign. How long one has played the game has little to nothing to do with how good of a coach they can be. In fact, guys who get into the game later in life can truly turn struggling programs into champions, especially if they are invested. It really is that simple.

Neither Erin Quinn (won three titles at NCAA DIII Middlebury) nor Mike Daly (won a title with NCAA DIII Tufts) ever played lacrosse, but when they got involved, they fell in love with, and became students of, the game. Dom Starsia (won titles at NCAA D1 Virginia) picked up lacrosse in college while at Brown, just like Heber, and Starsia is an absolute legend. To be a great coach, you don’t have to be a great player, or even have played the game. You just need to lead, love lacrosse and be a student.

And I believe Chad Heber loves lacrosse. His move from defender and back up goalie to attack means he improved his stick work, and the fact that he got into coaching right after graduating speaks volumes to his passion. He has a connection to Nebraska Lacrosse like few others, and is clearly motivated by this sense of community.

Hiring a coach with little (or no) high level lacrosse experience can be dicey, but if you are lucky enough to find a leader of men, who is also a student of the game, it can be a very rewarding move. Good luck to Chad Heber and Nebraska in 2013 and beyond!

What do you think of the Nebraska hire? Does Heber have the potential to become Nebraska’s answer to Dom Starsia?

  1. As a Nebraska alumni this is a horrible move.  They fired 2 coaches that were 100% better options for a guy who doesn’t know how to construct an offense or a defense or teach all of the under developed players that Nebraska gets.  And yes they were both fired, dont let the press release fool you.  These moves have caused me to no longer donate money to the team because these moves are horrible.  

    1. People said the same thing about Mike Daly when he took over Tufts. It is a different situation at Nebraska, as all situations are different, but I’m inclined to give a guy like this a shot. He might be perfect for the job, he might not. Only time will tell.

      It’s easier for me to say this, as I have no ties to the program, and I can understand how you might be upset by these moves. But doesn’t Chad Heber deserve an honest shot before we say he can’t do it?

      Thanks for the comment. looking forward to the response!

      1. Maybe he will be perfect for the job, but from what i know playing with him it is not the right fit. I dont see him as a good leader, and his lacrosse knowledge will have to significantly improve, which it can, but it will take a lot of work.  My main issue is they already have trouble getting kids to just show up for practice, how does hiring a guy who is not a good leader help the program?

        1. As the oldest member on the team I’m going to work hard this year to try to motivate the young guys a lot more as well. Leadership doesn’t need a title, everyone needs to lead by example – that was something we lacked as a team last season, a pure leader on the team who led by example.

          1. This is sad. Once again a club team makes decisions ( which they
            have a right to do ), by all accounts with little or no communication. No
            one will argue the Board has the right to do as they see fit – we’ve seen this
            happen before. Missouri, Colorado, BYU, WO all let tenured and successful
            coaches go. But it can and should be done with class, planning and
            organization. That’s what sets organizations apart. Based on the above, this
            happened suddenly, and a good share of the team wasn’t aware, nor was the
            coaching staff in the loop. I don’t think people realize what these
            coaches try to do for their programs. Vacations, evenings, weekends, benefits,
            are given up in pursuit of a sport that, like the players, they love. And
            if what is said above is true, to have the staff incurr expenses and no pay for
            the privelage…….well….
            It’s probably time to move
            on, and make the best of the situation. I would hope the current team would
            make things right with those that came before them, recognize alumni, coaches and players as it is
            the right and classy thing to do.   

        2. Also, people do change. We’re going to make it work this year. I personally won’t be seeing another losing season. Last year was the first losing season I’ve ever been a part of and it was a horrible experience.

        3.  Nebraskaalum,

          You played on the same team with Coach Heber?  Can’t figure out why NU didn’t come looking for you to be the coach. This hire is off the charts.  Congratulations Coach Heber!!!.  Don’t understand why YOU (nebraskaalum) are so distraught about this hire.  This is nothing compared to the hiring of Billy Callahan  If you played on the same Lacrosse team with Coach Heber, then you know that of which I am talking. The worst hire in the history of Cornhusker athletics and probably all of college athletics as well. Not sure why I am on this rant but give the guy a chance.  I’ll pick up your slack as one who donates $$$ to the Lacrosse program and triple what ever it was you have donated over the years in total which was probably nothing.  That shold make it easy on me.  Congrats to Coach Heber.  Just remember Coach, there are some people who are standing on third base and thought they hit a triple to get there, isn’t that right nebraskaalum? 


          1. So as an alum you think that the right move was to fire Jake and Redfern? Thats the move i am more upset about. But I also dont think Chad is the right fit, i wish him success and hope it works out and hope that the team succeeds, but i think they are making some big mistakes.  

             And actually i have given them a lot of money, probably the most out of any Alumni so feel free to pick up the slack, we all know they need the money, to triple what i have given you are looking at about 2k, i am sure they are looking forward to your check 

          2. Do you think it is right for Jake not to show up to games and not tell anyone? Do you think it is right he failed to show up to practice and would text the team at the start time of practice? He gave up on this team and that is classless. Redfern wasn’t invested in the team either. So the guys got rid of two guys who weren’t committed to them. They asked an alumni who is trying to grow the sport in Nebraska at the youth levels, who has excitement and love for the game, and is someone whom you most likely have no FREAKING idea what they know and don’t know. HAven’t you been away from the program for 3 three years? Besides your Daddy’s NFL money, what have you done to create a stronger lacrosse community in Nebraska? I bet none? You played the game for you. You were a selfish teammate and a classless person off the field. As a former player, you should have NO input on who the EXEC board chooses to coach? Did you listen to anyone when you guys fired Nate? The man who brought this team back from the dead by doing all the hard work. HOW  DO YOU REWARD HIM? Fire him over the phone because you liked hanging out and talking to Jake. You thought he was cool. Coolness doesn’t win games, bro. Coaching abilities and Leadership do. His overall record at Nebraska was 26-29 in 4 seasons. The first two, his only winning seasons, were made up with the core players that Nate coached up and put in the time to help become stronger players. Jake is has not improved Nebraska, plain and simple.

          3. What was the team’s record before Jake took over the team?  Jake has been volunteering his time for the last couple years and getting nothing in return.  As in, no money.  The same thing to be said about Redfern.  Taking a shot at D.C. because of who is Dad is, is also ignorant and stupid.  What does “his daddy’s NFL money” have to do with Nebraska lacrosse whatsoever???  D.C. also donated his time to the program.  You are correct in stating that the alum have no say in who is hired or fired, but let’s see how the team likes it when they are playing 6 games a year due to lack of funding. Jake was doing this all for free and had very little player commitment over the last couple years. So it’s very easy to see why he would choose time with his family over a practice every once in a while.  He was simply spinning his wheels.  I do know one thing though… chad heber has two screen names on this forum thread already… can he go for 3???

          4. Yes cause my dad give me money to donate to nebraska… think about how stupid that sounds.  I gave the team my i earned cause i wanted to support them and help them out cause i know how much goes into running the team, and how little financial support the team gets.  I dont get involved in the nebraska lacrosse community because i am not there but i have always done everything i could to help youth lacrosse in NE.  I also reached out to the team multiple times in the last 3 years to help with alumni contact and getting them involved, no one took me up on my offers.  So please dont call me selfish when i have volunteered my time and efforts to the team not only when i was there, but in the last 3 years as well.  

            And Nate did not do all the hard work to bring the team back from the brink, you now who did ALL of the work, ME, i did.  So you can just shut your mouth.  The situations that you described just proves the thoughts that i have had, the whole program is a mess.  

        1. maybe its a good time to realize why you don’t have any alumni support…

          1. Why don’t you come to practice sometime this fall, meet the guys, and explain to us how you think we can improve our alumni relations? Serious. We can’t change if we don’t realize what we’re doing wrong.

          2. I would but i am not in Nebraska anymore.  You cant change if you dont do anything either, which is what the team is doing now. Here is how you improve, start reaching out to alumni and just let them know what is happening with the team. Cause right now they are getting most of the information from me, which as you can tell i dont have the highest opinion of what has happened so as a team member you probably dont want me to be the sole info source

          3. I’m seeing some serious potential for a group hug here.

            But really, mended relationships must begin somewhere… why not here? Who will take the first step?

  2. As director of Lincoln Lacrosse Association, we’ll be sad to not have Chad working with the guys anymore. He has an enthusiasm for the game AND the young men he coaches. It is a good hire for the Huskers. We wish them well in 2013!

  3. As a player for UNL I’ll say none of this was expected this summer. Most of the business has been under the table without the team knowing what has been going on. I’m not exactly enthused about the way it occurred.

    However, as a player I know that I want to play and will be there regardless of who is coaching us. I played with Chad in 2009 as a freshman, and while I do see a lack of knowledge of the game as compared to Jake, who played competitively at high levels, I do also see benefits. 

    Chad will be more authoritative with the team than Jake was, which will be good for our younger developing players. Jake was and still is a great coach, but you had to be a mature player who understood his role and did what you needed to do inside and outside of practice if his system is to work. I would say it’s similar to a Zen tactic like Phil Jackson – He may not ride your ass to do everything, but if you want it he’s a hell of a coach.

    Chad is also (for the most part) a very positive guy, as was Jake, and I think that will also be beneficial as a coach. Positivity will always get more out of your players than negativity.

    Overall, I’m very excited to play this year and see how we develop. I do not forsee another 4-12 season because there were a myriad of reasons that led to that that no longer (as I see it) exist this year – it was not all on the coaching staff as some place the blame, not at all. And as for NebraskaAlum, as a current player who will be (and has been all summer) working his ass off to represent our University this year, I really hope you can see that we deserve another chance as a program before you give up on us.

  4. nebraskaalum is absolutely right.  Jake Smith was an amazing coach and the exec board firing him and coach David Redfern was the worst possible thing they could’ve done… what kind of idiots are running this team now????  Jake Smith is the absolute best thing that ever happened to Nebraska Lacrosse.  If he got more player commitment out of his teams the last couple years, they could’ve gone to the moon and back.  I know, because I was there.  I played for him.   I also with Chad Heber and for the sake of the program, I hope that he has matured and gained a lot more knowledge of the game.  Chad didn’t start at all in college and didn’t play the same position for more than a year at a time.  I really hope i’m wrong, but unfortunately i’m probably not.  I don’t know what the board was thinking of by hiring someone with little playing experience and his coaching resume consists of assisting on a low level high school team.  This is absolutely ridiculous.   As for “atruenebraskaalum”.. you have no idea what you are talking about, I have spoken with a couple of alumni and they we all share my same opinion.  This was a move made by guys that are really young and had no idea what they were doing.  Unfortunately, there is very little experience on this team.  I wish the Huskers and newly hired Coach Heber the best, I really hope that nebraskaalum and myself are completely wrong.

  5. It’s going to be up to players like J.T. to lead the team this year.  Joe was around for the good times and took a hiatus from the team for personal reasons and if the team is going to have any success this next year, he is going to have to play a big part in leading them. 

  6. As an alumni of Nebraska lacrosse, I want to make a few statements on this situation.

    First off, I am ashamed to have stumbled upon this thread only by accident.    Unfortunately, the discussions being posted on here are only hurting the club.   Alumni, current players, current or previous coach; if your hope for the club is at all positive, I will recommend that you either take this conversation privately, or discontinue it entirely.  

    With no statement towards any party, I want to add something for all of you to think about.   In a setting so accessible as an internet forum. what is the goal here?   Reading over the last two day’s discussions, it is evident that there is a lot of heart and passion for the club.   I myself follow the team frequently, keep in touch with many of the players, and get consistent in game feedback as to what is going on.   The heart and passion for Nebraska Lacrosse has not yet faded.   However, this discussion that has continued on is only hurting each other and the club as a whole.   Current players, think about the way what should be rival Missouri and Iowa are looking at this situation right now?   You are only providing the ammo for their gun in the coming spring.   Previous players, you are ruining the already less than mediocre alumni to current player relationship, and feeding the rest of the lacrosse public with negative thoughts about the team and program as a whole.

    As I stated early, I am an Alumni of the Nebraska Lincoln Men’s Lacrosse team and worked very hard to build of the overall reputation of club.   If there is any respect for the alumni’s out there, I ask the current players to continue to live up to that reputation.   Alumni, I recommend backing down, if for nothing else to reserve part of the Nebraska lacrosse club reputation that Coach Jake, myself and many of the other captains and board members worked hard to create throughout the MCLA.  For if this conversation continues much further, there will be a large shadow casted over the UNL team and the MCLA community will only frown upon our hopeful successes and triumphs in the future.   With Nebraska lacrosse being such an important part of my college career, life and success, I would hate for it to be damaged by immaturity and ignorance through internet forums.
    Also, keep in mind who you are discussing.  What’s on the internet is there for a while.    Which ever side you are representing of this conflict.    Before you post something or retaliate, decide if it is really going to help or hurt.   Unfortunately, I now know two names who will have this long thread of discussions stamped to them for a while.  

    Coach Heber:   You have your hands full.   Unfortunately because of recent (now public) discussions, the pressure is on.   I understand there is a lot of sour feelings and distractions about the ethics and motives behind the firing and re-hiring of personnel,but that does not excuse you from living up to expectations.  In saying that, I have no doubt in my mind you will.   Playing with you for many years you did display great passion towards the sport of lacrosse.   I encourage you and will be pulling for you guys all next year.   I know you have it in you, just work hard, do A LOT of research on offenses and defensive slide packages, and be sure to ask questions.  A coach is only as good as he allows his players to make him.   And that doesn’t mean on the field.   Especially at the college level, you are going to learn more about the game than your players will, be open to that and I think you will thrive in this setting.   Just remember traditions, values and ethics that Coach Jake has taught us so well and I know you will live up to the expectations….  

    And do all of us Alumni a favor and put it to Iowa this year, especially with De la Pena as a coach….

    Coach Jake:  Although I am not sure, but I’d assume, like me, you have been keeping up with these discussions.   As a recent alum, I’d like to put this whole conversation aside and thank you for all of your hard work over the years.   You taught me more than I ever expected to know about the game of lacrosse and made me appreciate the game in an entirely different way.   You challenged me, and I developed into a much better player than I ever thought.   However, watching your ways and attempting to model them in my coaching experiences, is where I have benefited the most.    Understanding your passion, devotion and dedication to the team, I never will, because putting up with us clowns for those many years… I do not understand.    But put that aside, you allowed me to mature into a great player, field leader and outside of lacrosse a much more responsible adult.   Although the releasing of you and Coach Redfern was a shock, it is encouraging to know that an alumni has been hired.   Chad has been exposed to the same phenomenal experience that I was.   It has changed me as a player, participant of the game and a mature adult (at times) and for that I am thankful.   

    Joe T.:   You are a leader this year, and Coach Chad is going need your help on and off the field.   Keep your positive attitude and dedication to becoming a leader and better player and you guys will be alright.   Unfortunately you did not play your sophomore year so I missed the opportunity to play aside you my senior year, but through a variety of discussions with you, your dedication to the sport has proven to be greater than many.   Keep up the hard work and make us alumni proud.

    Overall, I think EVERYONE involved in this discussion needs to step back, take a deep breath and think.   Alumni, it is a new Era for the Nebraska lacrosse club.   With optimistic thinking and hope, although there are some that disagree with the new personnel, we need to keep in mind how much this team meant to us in our days.   It wasn’t a club, but a family.   It is unfortunate to see Coach Jake dismissed and replaced, and there is no disagreement at any level about that.   But, that does not mean ruin the dynasty and family feeling that he created in team.   Current club members, before you fire off a quick response, remember, laxallstars is a forum that EVERY team in the MCLA will keep close eye on, your discussions on here are not private and will be public and used against you.    Whoever else is posting on here putting a damper on the entire Nebraska Lacrosse team, step back, take a deep breath… and think.    Your personal issues between each other does not mean sacrifice everything we were or are involved in.   Nebraska Lacrosse was far too important to us all throughout our years in Lincoln, and there is no reason it shouldn’t continue to be that way for the future.   Just remember:  

    What are we -> Team
    What are we -> Family
    Who are we -> Nebraska

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