(July 31, 2017)… Rochester Knighthawks Owner and General Manager Curt Styres announced today that Mike Accursi has been promoted to the role of Offensive Assistant Coach. The 42-year-old Accursi spent the past three seasons as the Knighthawks Lacrosse Operations Assistant.
“He still has a good connection and rapport with the players because he is not too far removed (from playing). The guys respect him and we respect him,” said Knighthawks head coach Mike Hasen. “He understands what we want to do and where we want to go as a team.”
In his new role, Accursi will continue to work closely with Styres, VP of Player Personnel Jody Gage, and scout Stuart Brown. One thing that will change, however, is his vantage point on game nights as he moves from the press box to field level. After logging a short stint in lacrosse operations in Rochester, he will now take a major step in his professional lacrosse career.
“I was pretty surprised, but extremely thrilled to have the opportunity to coach in the Knighthawks organization,” he said. “It was a goal of mine to coach in this league. Curt gave me the opportunity to work behind the scenes. I was working with the coaches, Curt and Jody. It was a great learning experience and I learned a lot.
“I was like a sponge taking it all in and continuing to give myself an opportunity to learn. At some point in the future I thought I would be able to coach and get behind the bench. I am thrilled to get that chance in Rochester.”
In 2018, the St. Catharines, Ontario native enters his 11th season in the organization. Accursi played seven seasons in Rochester and still ranks fifth in assists (222) and points (364), and ninth in goals (142). In Knighthawks playoff history, the three-time team assistant captain ranks second in goals (28) and fifth in points (43).
More importantly, he helped the franchise win four of its five Champion’s Cups. Now, he will bring his winning acumen to the Rochester bench.
“I think he is a guy who is going to come in on the offensive side and have an impact. Just like he was an impact player,” said Knighthawks Director of Player Development Duane Jacobs. “It’s a good addition for the team. He has that continuity because he is a guy who played in Rochester and he’s won here. He is already familiar with the staff and the players.”
In his NLL career, Accursi played for teams in Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, Hamilton and Edmonton. In 17 seasons (1998-2014), he scored 391 goals, while adding 436 assists for 827 points in 237 games. In NLL postseason history, he ranks fifth in goals (58), tied for eighth in points (99), and tied for ninth in games played (26). Accursi is also a five-time NLL champion who ended his Hall of Fame career by leading the Knighthawks to a record three straight Champion’s Cups.
“Mike was a great Knighthawk and a great NLL player. He was one of the smartest off-ball guys to play in the league over the last number of years,” said Brown. “We are hoping he can teach our young guys the finer details of the offense. He recently played the game and has great insight on how to score goals in this league. We are hoping he can take the next step and help our offense.”
In 2018, Accursi will coach a team that has undergone a youth movement. The roster currently features 10 players that are 25 years old or younger. That number will increase in September when Rochester makes three selections in the first round of the National Lacrosse League Entry Draft. Accursi’s ability to work with the younger generation of lacrosse players was very appealing to Styres.
“As a teacher he has a way to get the guys to learn what he is teaching them,” said Styres. “There are so many different ways that people learn – some have to read it before they believe it, and some have to watch video. Other guys have to be taken by the hand. “Mike has worked with these Millennials for 16 years in his teaching job. He certainly has hands-on experience on how to get the best out of Millennials. Mike will fit in nicely. He will teach the guys, keep that communication open and help them get better.”
Accursi, who currently works at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in St. Catharines, plans to combine his lacrosse knowledge and his teaching experience in his first year behind an NLL bench.
“Everybody is different and everybody has a different way of learning,” he said, echoing the words of Styres. “Some people are really good at learning by reading and can understand and comprehend all the information they are gathering. Other people need to see it and like watching video. Then there are those that actually do it and enjoy going through the process.
“There are different learning styles and different ways of teaching and coaching. That is definitely something I’ll try to employ. I am going to try to meet the needs of the players. Players have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning new skills. I am going to try to provide them with those opportunities.”
Accursi’s previous coaching experience includes both the men’s and women’s teams at Brock University in St. Catharines. He was the head coach of the women’s team from 1998-2002; from 2002-04, he was the offensive coordinator for the men’s team that won three straight Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association Championships. In 2014, he was an assistant coach for the St. Catharines Athletics Junior “A” squad. In 2015, he was the offensive coach for the Major Series Lacrosse Peterborough Lakers.
With such impressive credentials, the Knighthawks are confident that Accursi will excel in his new role.
“I think Mike is going to do a great job,” said Knighthawks VP of Player Personnel Jody Gage. “As a player, he worked hard at his craft and he thinks the game really well; he has a great offensive mind. Mike is very well-respected by his players and his teammates. He has been working with the organization, so he is someone we know really well and respect.”