Chris Greene took over as head coach of the Martha’s Vineyard boys’ lacrosse team in 2008, and his tenure at the school ushered in a new era of success for the team. But last week, Coach Greene announced his decision to retire. He said he came to his decision during a spring practice just a few weeks ago.

“I was by myself one day and I look up to see Coach Keller running the offensive drills at one goal, Coach Schnibbe’s running drills at the defensive area, the goalies in the goalie complex and the JV team running their own group,” he recollected. “I remember saying to myself, wow here we are.”

Coach Greene was a former lacrosse coach at Williamsville High School in Amherst, N.Y. He started as an assistant coach at MVRHS in 1997, and as head coach surrounded himself with an elite staff.

“I remember [Tom] shaking my hand and saying ‘Hi I’m Tom Keller, I don’t want your job’ and me saying, I’m Chris Greene and I want to build a program.”

Tom Keller had been an assistant lacrosse coach at Division I College of the Holy Cross, and his long history as a coach included experience at Mass. Maritime Academy, Babson and Merrimack. Mr. Keller raised the bar for the team by instilling a collegiate atmosphere to the practices and games. Coach Greene granted him the autonomy he needed to transform ordinary practices into college-level competitions.

“When [Tom] came in at the beginning, how you practiced that week determined how much playing time you had,” Coach Greene said. 

Hiring Bob Schnibbe as a defensive assistant coach changed the entire team culture. A former Division I lacrosse player at Quinnipiac University, Mr. Schnibbe taught a unique skill set rarely seen at the high school level. Players began changing sets on dead balls, giving the Vineyarders a college lacrosse culture Coach Greene had always craved.

The accountability Coach Greene set for his players maximized the talent available within the small Island community. Results occurred on and off the field. The program produced Division I college caliber lacrosse players, and Army, Notre Dame, Holy Cross, Bryant, UMass and many top NCAA Division III programs recruited dozens of former players. The team won 29 games over a three-year span from 2014 to 2016. 

“Win or lose, Coach Greene held you accountable as a man,” said former MVRHS lacrosse player Liam Smith. “He would try and get us to attend college lacrosse games to show us that level of play and his expectations”

The former team captain said he felt Coach Green also cared more about his players’ success beyond the lacrosse field.

Seeing his self-proclaimed “heir-apparent” Bob Schnibbe run practice after three straight playoff appearances, Coach Greene feels confident handing over the program he built from scratch. And with a young family at home to take care of he will remain busy, despite not having to plan practices anymore.