The future of Saint Ignatius lacrosse remains as bright as ever.
Following an OHSAA Division I State Championship appearance, the Wildcats have a new leader, a man with plenty of experience and local knowledge.
Gary Cintron is the new full-time Saint Ignatius lacrosse head coach.
He takes over the reins from Garen Distelhorst '96, who served as an interim coach for a season. Distelhorst, the father of two young children and a Saint Ignatius administrator, will be taking time off from coaching to spend time with his family. His predecessor, Patrick McManamon '96, stepped down late last summer to focus more on his successful, growing business.
"We're really excited to have Gary as our new coach," said Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick '88. "I feel that Coach Cintron will be a great person to guide the young men who participate in the Saint Ignatius lacrosse program. He has a very clear understanding of the mission of Saint Ignatius High School and I know that will come through in his coaching.
"I'd also like to thank Garen Distelhorst and his staff for their great work this past season. Their efforts are a key reason that Saint Ignatius lacrosse is in such great shape today."
Cintron is no stranger to Northeast Ohio lacrosse. The Long Island native moved to Rocky River after attending Ohio University, where he played lacrosse for the Bobcats. Cintron, a local business owner, helped to found the Rocky River youth and high school lacrosse programs.
Cintron has familiarity with Saint Ignatius lacrosse, too. His son, Crew '16, enjoyed an All-American lacrosse career with the Wildcats.
"I took the job because I believe in what Saint Ignatius is doing with the boys in every facet of their growth and wanted to be part of it," Gary Cintron said.
Cintron has coached youth, high school, and travel lacrosse for the past 17 years. He has played an integral role in growing the sport in Northeast Ohio.
Most recently, Cintron served as an assistant coach for the newly formed Division I lacrosse program at Cleveland State University in its inaugural season.
Cleveland State's head lacrosse coach. Dylan Sheridan, thinks very highly of Cintron.
"I am thrilled for Gary and the Saint Ignatius lacrosse family," Sheridan said. "Coach Cintron is passionate, loyal, competitive and experienced, but most importantly he is thoughtful and caring and understands the significance of mentorship and education through sport. I chose that word – family – because that is what his program will embody. I am grateful for his time with us at CSU. The Wildcats are in very good hands.”
Cintron remembers his time at CSU fondly, too.
"I believe my experience last year as an assistant coach at CSU and my continued connections with the staff there will be a big part of the continued success of the Ignatius lacrosse program," Cintron said.
"Pat McManamon's six years as head coach truly were the turning point in Saint Ignatius lacrosse. Pat laid the foundation for success and Garen Distelhorst and staff did a phenomenal job in the interim season. The bar is set high, as it should be at Ignatius."
Cintron will work with some of the top young talent from the area, including outstanding sophomore attacker Michael Boehm, playmaking midfielder Connor McGowan, and skilled senior faceoff specialist Anthony Ameo, among others.
"I am truly excited for the future of lacrosse at our great school," Fitzpatrick said. "I know our athletes will be working extremely hard to prepare themselves for any challenges and I know our coaches will be doing the same."
Cintron lives with his wife, Erin, and their children, Maddison, Crew '16 and Blade '20, who will again play for the Lax Cats next season after making the team as a freshman.
"There are lots of moving parts to get my hands around," Cintron said. "But I believe I have a great support system around me and I am excited to officially be a Wildcat!"