MAHOPAC, N.Y. – Not long ago, senior captain Jon Bota scored 41 goals and 25 assists to lead Mahopac lacrosse to their ninth section title in school history.
Not even a decade removed from his playing days, the 26-year-old Bota will try to restore the program to its former glory from the sidelines.
“This program has a rich history,” Bota said. “Realistically, chasing after that section could be a goal this year.”
Bota, who graduated from Mahopac High School in 2011, was appointed head coach of the varsity lacrosse team by the Board of Education on Thursday, Oct. 24.
He played three years for the varsity team as an attackman, scoring 123 points. His most successful year was his senior year, when then Indians captured the Section 1 Class A title, beating teams like Yorktown and Lakeland-Panas in the process.
“We got to do some pretty special things in 2011,” Bota said. “It was a special year for that group.”
Bota played under co-coaches, Michael and Dave Haddeland, brothers who led the program together until 2013, when just Michael took over. An illness forced Michael Haddeland to resign shortly before the 2016 season, passing the baton to co-coaches Tony Tanzi and Sean Mohammed. New coach Joe Bucello took over the following year, but was let go over the summer.
Michael Haddeland will return to the sidelines with Bota this spring.
“Michael Haddeland is going to be my assistant,” Bota said. “He’s ready to get back involved and get this program back to where we had it in 2011.”
After graduating from Mahopac, Bota continued his lacrosse career at Western New England University. He started for three years, earning All-Conference honors and leading the Bears to three Division III tournament appearances, advancing to the Elite Eight in 2013.
Not long after graduating college, Bota got his first taste of coaching varsity lacrosse at Putnam Valley High School, serving as an assistant. He also coached with 845 Lax, which works with youth and varsity lacrosse programs.
“Then the opportunity for Mahopac opened up and I couldn’t resist,” Bota said. “It kind of happened a little quickly. I had a couple of meetings with [Athletic Director] Frank [Miele] and everything seemed to go well.”
Bota, acknowledging his young age, said he feels “more of an urgency because of it.” But being so closely removed from his playing days could also be a benefit.
“There are a lot of rule changes,” Bota said. “I feel like because I got to be so recently involved in it, that it helps me out now.”
Bota is ready to hit the ground running.
“I feel I can get these kids involved in some high-level lacrosse,” he said.