Jeff Weiner will coach the Bishop England girls lacrosse team in Saturday’s state championship game, and win or lose, he will have little time to celebrate or sulk.
On Sunday, he will fly to New York and help his daughter, Abigail Zeltmann, coach the Hauppage High School team. Hauppage is located in Suffolk County and is one of the top teams in the lacrosse hotbed of Long Island.
“I’ve learned everything about lacrosse from her,” said Weiner, who moved to the Lowcountry from Long Island five years ago. “I convinced her to play lacrosse in high schooI and followed her when she played in college. I try to take what I’ve learned from my daughter and transfer it to the girls. Abigail even comes down here a couple of weeks before our season starts to help out.”
Weiner, who retired to Charleston after 33 years in the telecommunications business, said he chose the Lowcountry to be near his son, and because of the weather.
“I couldn’t take the winters anymore,” Weiner said. “We had 104 inches of snow the winter before I moved down here.”
He moved to Mount Pleasant and helped build the Wando girls lacrosse program.
“I coached Wando’s goalie, Sierra Armstrong, when she was in the eighth grade,” said Weiner, whose Bishop England team beat Wando on Tuesday in the lower state final. “She thanked me profusely for helping her get started. That was a good feeling.”
He landed the Bishop England job a year later. He spent his first year teaching the basics.
“We couldn’t catch two passes in a row,” Weiner said. “We went 5-7 that first year, followed it up at 7-9 and had our breakout year last year when we went 15-4.”
Weiner said he’s watched lacrosse improve drastically in the area.
“The skill level has gotten better,” Weiner said. “Lacrosse in the Lowcountry has improved because of club play as well. In the summer, we have open sessions and players from all the local teams — Academic Magnet, West Ashley, Ashley Hall and Wando — are invited to improve their skills.”
The Bishops’ advantage over other Lowcountry teams might be in the way they play defense.
“We play defense differently than anyone else in the area,” Weiner said. “Our defense is the kind you see on Long Island.”
Lacrosse in the Palmetto State, sanctioned just four years ago, is still in its infancy.
“They start off way earlier in the North,” Weiner said. “They start playing the sport when they learn to walk. For example, my granddaughter runs around with a lacrosse stick and she is only 3.”
Bishop England plays J.L. Mann at 11 a.m. Saturday at White Knoll High School in Columbia.