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Bloomfield Hills

Being Brother Rice

May 14, 2008

Birmingham Brother Rice lacrosse program rivaled by none

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Birmingham Brother Rice lacrosse coach Rob Ambrose won’t admit it, and his players don’t buy into it.

But the rest of the state knows it.

For the past five years in the Michigan lacrosse scene, it’s been Rice and then everyone else.

At press time, the Warriors hadn’t lost a game to a team from Michigan in more than five years and were prefect this season at 15-0, winning by an average margin of 11 goals per game.

Local coaches point to Rice’s program as the epitome of discipline. Some coaches even try to get their teams to emulate how the Warriors handle themselves in every situation — even how they conduct themselves in the stands during junior varsity contests.

But for Ambrose — now in his 15th year coaching Rice — he doesn’t put any stock into past championships.

“It really doesn’t enter my mind,” he said during practice May 7. “It’s great, and a great honor that people look at our program that way, but I don’t look at it that way. I never have and never will. I just think about what we’re going to do at practice today.”

Staying humble and focusing on the present is the message Ambrose preaches, and his players listen.    

“Coach really doesn’t let us think about it,” senior Jimmie Plaskey of Beverly Hills said about the team’s past success. “He really instills in us to base it game by game. He doesn’t think about the future or the past, he’s really just caught up in the moment.”

Ambrose expects great things out of his players every moment and demands that they never become complacent.

“I think we have to play our best every day,” he said, admitting it’s not an easy thing to do. “It’s hard to be up every day, but every day has to be a great day for us and our program.”

Plaskey said the team also has to believe that they have what it takes to continue to be the best.

“Before the game, you have to prove to yourself that there’s no way this other team can stay with us,” he said. “They can’t stay on the same field with us.”

Another key to Rice’s success over the years has been the players’ unselfishness as they strive for the good of the program.

“It’s really every component — every cog in this wheel has to be functioning effectively for us to be a good team,” the coach said.

This particular Rice team has the chance to be one of the best in school history.

According to — a nationally recognized magazine and Web site that compiles national rankings at the high school and collegiate level — Rice was ranked sixth nationally at press time. Ambrose said coaches from around the country vote on the Web site’s poll, and the ranking is the highest any team from Michigan has ever received.

“That’s a real honor for us,” Ambrose said. “The kids, I think they grasp it. But in the overall grand scheme of things, that’s a huge deal for us.”

Another huge deal for the Warriors are the Midwest Championships, which get under way May 17-18. Ambrose called the tournament the “Holy Grail.”

The tournament features the top 16 programs from Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Other local teams scheduled to compete are Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day, Birmingham United and University of Detroit Jesuit.

All contests on the first day are scheduled for Rice, while the second day’s games will be split between Rice, Birmingham Seaholm and Country Day.

Exact pairings and game times were not yet available.


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