On June 9, 2011, Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk introduced Rick Sowell, a man who has been involved with rebuilding programs at Georgetown, Dartmouth, St. John's and Stony Brook, as the Naval Academy's eighth head men's lacrosse coach in its 100-plus year storied history.
"The Naval Academy family welcomes Coach Sowell as an accomplished educator, proven lacrosse coach, architect of building winning programs, inspirational leader of student-athletes, role model in the community and devoted husband and father," said Gladchuk.
"Rick has impressed us in a way that is consistent with the wonderful accolades we have received from those who have worked with him or coached against him over the years.
"In addition to his responsibilities at Stony Brook, Rick has already taken a step forward representing our country as a former coach for gold-medal winning Team USA at the World Championships in 2010. Now at Navy, he takes another step in the same direction training and preparing our midshipmen for their future role as leaders in the fleet.
"We are looking forward to a tenure at Navy where Rick can provide ambitious direction to our program while reinforcing the values of the Academy that resonate with the Navy way."
"Today is a day about moving forward, not looking backwards," said Sowell. "I am excited to have this opportunity and appreciate all that the United States Naval Academy represents: Honor, Tradition, and Integrity. These are all principles that I follow in life and know that my new team will reflect these values.
"I am honored and humbled to be named the next head coach of the United States Naval Academy. This is the best situation in which to work to represent our proud country and to honor and lead ambitious young men in their commitment to the people of this great nation. Navy's lacrosse tradition is unprecedented and I look forward to continuing that tradition and adding to what already is one of a kind."
In his first season at the Naval Academy, Sowell directed the Midshipmen to a 6-6 record, including a 3-3 mark in Patriot League action which featured a 12-11 victory over 12th-ranked Colgate in Hamilton, N.Y. It marked Navy's first .500-win season since 2009.
Navy capped off its season with an 8-2 rout over No. 6 Johns Hopkins in front of better than 11,000 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The six-goal victory by the Mids marked their largest margin of victory in the series since 1965 when Navy scored a 15-6 win over the Blue Jays on their home field. Meanwhile, the Class of 2012 became the first class since 1974 to graduate having twice beaten Hopkins.
On a national level, the Mids were ranked among the top 10 (eighth) man-down defensive units in the country, shutting down 75 percent (30 of 40) of their opponents' extra-man opportunities. The previous two seasons the Mids had been ranked 29th and 36th. Meanwhile, after struggling in 2011 (38th, 9.62 GPG), the Mids bounced back on defense as a whole, surrendering 8.92 goals per game to rank 14th nationally. Two other areas Navy improved upon in 2012 were shot percentage (13th, 31.1) and turnovers per game (11th, 14.08).
Last spring his Midshipmen finished No. 2 nationally in caused turnovers per game, averaging 10.0 takeaways, and were led by Austin Miller (2.31) and Pat Kiernan (2.00) who were ranked seventh and 12th, respectively. Kiernan concluded his junior season by garnering First-Team All-Patriot League laurels and was named the Lt. Robert T. Bianchi Award winner as the program's most valuable player. It's an award he has been presented in each of the last two seasons.
Over the course of the season the attack combo of Tucker Hull and Sam Jones became only the fourth set of classmates in program history to reach 100 points, joining Brendan Schneck (121) and Mike Hannan (101) from the Class of `78, Mike Herger (197) and Brian Keith (134) from the Class of 1990 and Ian Dingman (188) and Billy Looney (103) from the Class of 2007. Hull heads into his senior campaign tied for 23rd on Navy's all-time scoring list with 106 points, while Jones is 26th with 102 points.
Prior to his arrival in Annapolis, Sowell compiled a 47-26 (.644) record in five seasons at Stony Brook and was named the America East Coach of the Year in each of the last two seasons as he guided the Seawolves to back-to-back America East regular-season titles (2010-11).
Stony Brook finished the 2011 campaign with a 10-4 mark, including a 5-0 record in conference play. The Seawolves just missed a second-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament when they lost in the America East Championship Game by a goal.
In 2010, Sowell led Stony Brook to the program's first America East regular-season title, a school-record 13 wins, a national ranking as high as No. 6 and a 9-7 victory over Denver in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Seawolves were just a game away from advancing to the school's first-ever final four, narrowly losing in to Virginia in the quarterfinals, 10-9. Stony Brook had four players earn All-America honors, including Kevin Crowley who was the school's first First-Team All-American and was named the USILA Player of the Year.
Sowell, who was an assistant coach for the gold-medal winning Team USA at the 2010 World Championships in England, led Stony Brook to a 9-6 record in 2009 and a final ranking of No. 20 in the country. It marked the school's first end-of-the-season national ranking. Stony Brook finished 4-1 in America East and stood as the regular season co-champions.
Prior to Stony Brook, Sowell was tapped to head the rebirth of the St. John's lacrosse program that had been dormant since 1995. Sowell had just one season to recruit before the Red Storm took the field in 2005.
Sowell was the head coach at Dartmouth from 1999-2003 and revived the Big Green program, taking the team from last place in the Ivy League to first.
In his final season at Dartmouth in 2003, Sowell's squad posted an 11-3 record and won the Ivy League with a 5-1 record. It was Dartmouth's first Ivy League title since 1965 and just the third Ivy League title in school history.
During the title run, the Big Green upset No. 2 Princeton marking the first time that Dartmouth had won at Princeton since 1958. Sowell was also named the NEILA Coach of the Year that season.
Sowell served as an assistant at Georgetown from 1990-98 where the Hoyas grew from an also-ran to a national contender. In 1998, the Hoyas finished 10-5 overall and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA's.
Sowell's coaching career began at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., where he helped guide the Shoremen to the NCAA Division III national title game in 1986 and the semifinal round in 1987.
Before dedicating his life to coaching, Sowell played lacrosse at all levels. He began his college career in 1982 at the State University of New York before transferring to Washington College prior to the 1984 season.
At Washington College, Sowell was named the 1985 Division III National Midfielder of the Year and was also a two-time All-American. He helped lead Washington College to the Division III national championship game twice. In Sowell's senior campaign he was team captain and earned the Dr. Charles B. Clark MVP Award.
His 45 goals and 14 assists earned him Division III First-Team All-America honors and an invitation to participate in the annual North-South All-Star Game.
Sowell spent five years with the Baltimore Thunder of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL), where he was a first-team all-pro selection three times.
Sowell graduated from Washington College in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in history. He was inducted into the Washington College Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Potomac Chapter of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame in February of 2013.
Sowell, and his wife, Catherine, have two daughters, Kennady and Avery.