Longtime Blue Hen lacrosse coach Shillinglaw to retire after this season

Bob Shillinglaw

NEWARK — Bob Shillinglaw, who has enjoyed one of the greatest coaching careers in the history of NCAA men’s lacrosse, compiling 327 wins, leading the Blue Hens to 16 conference championships, and six NCAA Tournament appearances, announced Thursday that he will retire following the 2017 season.

Shillinglaw, who will turn 65 in March, began his career with the Blue Hens in 1979 and will commence his 39th season at UD and his 42nd season overall as a head coach when Delaware hosts Bucknell in the season opener next Saturday, Feb. 4, at 1 p.m. at Delaware Stadium.

“Anyone who knows me knows that Delaware Lacrosse is my passion,” said Shillinglaw. “Representing the program, the University, and the alums is an honor, and besides my wife and three daughters, it is the most important thing in my life. While at this time this is the best decision for my family, I will continue to give 150 percent this season to provide this year’s team and their families with the best experience and remain committed to working hard for the future of Delaware Lacrosse.”

The second longest tenured head coach in the history of collegiate men’s lacrosse and in the annals of Delaware athletics, Shillinglaw built a strong legacy of championship teams, All-American players, and successful alumni over a highlight-filled career.

“Coach Shillinglaw’s contributions and commitment to this University, to Blue Hens Athletics, to the lacrosse program, and to the sport have been truly extraordinary,” said Delaware Director of Athletics and Recreation Services Chrissi Rawak. “His positive impact as a mentor to hundreds of highly successful young men over four decades can’t be overstated. He is Delaware Lacrosse and so many owe him a debt of gratitude for the legacy he has built and the first-class manner in which he guided this program. We are excited for both Bob and his family as he begins this next chapter in his life. Delaware lacrosse will always hold special importance to him and we welcome his continued involvement and commitment to the program and Delaware Athletics as whole.”

No person in the history of college lacrosse has coached more games than Shillinglaw, who has been at the helm of 639 contests over 41 seasons, 129 more than No. 2 Jack Emmer who coached 510 games in 1970-2005. His 41 seasons as a head coach ranks tied for No. 2 all-time in NCAA history, trailing only current MIT head coach Walt Alessi, who begins his 43rd season in 2017. Glenn Thiel served 41 seasons as a head coach in 1970-2010 at Virginia and Penn State. At Delaware, only the late C. Roy “Doc” Rylander, who guided the UD tennis teams for 41 years in 1952-93, served longer.

One of just seven coaches in NCAA Division I history to win 250 games or more at one school, Shillinglaw reached the mark with a win over Saint Joseph’s in the 2009 season opener. He won his 300th game at Delaware in 2016 when the Blue Hens knocked off Manhattan 6-5 on March 8, 2016.

Shillinglaw’s remarkable career has seen him capture 327 victories, including 303 at Delaware, to rank him No. 10 on the all-time win list and No. 4 among active Division I head coaches behind only Duke’s John Danowski, Denver’s Bill Tierney, and Bryant’s Mike Pressler.

The slate includes 16 conference championships in four different leagues and six NCAA Tournament appearances, most notably in 2007 when Delaware advanced to its first and only NCAA Final Four appearance. Delaware advanced that year with wins over then defending national champion Virginia and UMBC before falling to Johns Hopkins in the national semifinal game before an NCAA record crowd of 52,004 at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. Delaware also advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1983, 1999, 2005, 2010, and 2011.

He has posted a career record of 124-74 (.626) in conference play, led his teams to seven conference titles in his first eight seasons, and guided the team to 10 or more victories 11 times, including a four-year run 2004-07 in which Delaware was an impressive 46-23 overall.

Along the way he was named the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) National Coach of the Year twice (1979 and 1999), conference Coach of the Year five times, coached 19 All-Americans, eight conference players of the year, four conference rookies of the year, 105 all-conference selections, and six members of the UD Athletics Hall of Fame.

He has also sent numerous players to the professional leagues, including John Grant, Jordan Hall, and Curtis Dickson, each of whom are considered among the top players in the world. Grant, for years one of the top players in the history of both Major League Lacrosse (outdoor) and the National Lacrosse League (indoor), was named the USILA national college player of the year in 1999 and Dickson was runner-up for the Tewaaraton Trophy as the top college men’s lacrosse player in the nation in 2010. In addition, UD Athletics Hall of Famers Alex Smith and Steve Shaw still rank among the all-time great faceoff specialists in NCAA history.

A native of Severna Park, Md., Shillinglaw was a standout at the University of North Carolina, served as team captain as a senior, and was a 1974 Phi Beta Kappa graduate. Before coming to Delaware, he was 24-17 in three years as head coach at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He earned his master’s degree from Boston University in 1978.

He arrived at Delaware in 1979, taking over for Jim Grube as just the eighth coach in UD history. He has twice been selected to the coaching staff of the North-South Lacrosse Senior All-Star Classic, serving as South Team head coach in 1997 and as an assistant in 1981. He is a past president of the USLCA and is actively involved in the All-America Advisory Board and the NCAA Rules and Equipment Committee, and formerly with the USILA Top 20 Coaches Poll. He presently serves on the Regional Advisory Ranking Committee for NCAA DI Men’s Lacrosse Tournament selection and on the Tewaaraton Award Selection Committee for Mens’ Lacrosse.

An assistant professor at Delaware, he has published numerous articles in athletic journals as well as lectured at various coaching clinics. Shillinglaw will continue to stay involved with the University of Delaware and will work with alumni relations  as well as other university and athletic department efforts across campus.

He resides with his wife, Tina, in Elkton, Md. They have three grown daughters.

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