Gavin Herr literally eats, breathes and sleeps lacrosse.
If he’s not coaching the sport, he’s refereeing games. If he’s not refereeing matches, he’s flying to different parts of the U.S. to play in tournaments. And if Herr isn’t doing any of those things, he’s either game planning or thinking of ways to further grow the sport of lacrosse.
Yes, Herr is a lax lifer. Herr, a Hollister resident who recently completed his second season coaching the Live Oak High boys lacrosse team, recently earned a prestigious award when he was named the U.S. Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
In the recently completed 2023 season, the Acorns had their best campaign in program history, winning a league championship and Central Coast Section playoff game for the first time. Herr was notified he had won the award by Live Oak Athletic Director Mike Gemo at the team’s postseason banquet on May 31.
“It was a really sweet moment and I was really appreciative of being there with my team,” he said. “It was really cool. I really think this award is a reflection on the players I work with. I’ve only been here two years with these boys so I can’t take a whole lot of credit. But being able to help them grow as men and leading them to work together as a team and build relationships through the sport is an awesome thing.”
Herr credited Brad Ledwith for his daily administrative support which allows Herr to focus on coaching. He also noted the contribution of Mike Barnes, who was invaluable during the season and particularly on game days.
Two days after the team’s party, the 30-year-old Herr was on a plane to Austin, Texas to play in a box lacrosse tournament with the Cali Buccaneers. Such is the life of Herr, whose job as a mobile massage therapist allows him flexibility to dedicate a huge chunk of his time to lacrosse.
In addition to the Cali Bucs, Herr also plays for the Palo Alto Ducks, a men’s outdoors lacrosse squad. He’s currently scheduled to play with the Ducks in a tournament in San Diego at the end of this month and a Masters tournament in Lake Tahoe in July.
He’s enjoyed success with the Bucs, who won the tournament in Austin and also were victorious at a tournament in Las Vegas earlier this year. Herr said there’s a particular value in him still playing and being able to relate to the players as a coach.
“It’s still important to be a part of this game,” he said. “We ask these kids to do a lot and to not understand the effort they put in, it would be a shame. So I put in the effort and time and the kids understand we as coaches are willing to put in the work and effort to help them achieve their goals.”
Herr has been involved in the game a long time and as such a player he formerly coached—Nick Gray—is a 20-year-old who played with him at the tournament in Austin.
“We won the championship so he did a great job,” Herr said. “I’ve mentored him for a long time since he was a U14 youth, doing private lessons and we got him into box lacrosse and he really flourished there. So it’s really cool to see what this game can give back to these kids.”
Herr wasn’t just awarded for his coaching duties with Live Oak. He’s also the director and head coach of Morgan Hill Lacrosse, a club program that offers year-round recreational and competitive lacrosse for boys and girls ages 6 through high school and beyond.
The organization fields teams including the South County Outlaws (youth boys), Clovers (all girls), MOHI (high school to 18-plus) and Little Laxers (4-6 years old). Herr has worked with Menlo-Atherton High boys coach/co-athletic director Steven Kryger to grow the game in the Bay Area through youth clubs and leagues.
“Steven is a good friend and interacting with him and the rest of the South Bay leaders has been great,” Herr said. “He’s an absolute delight.”
Here’s how maniacal Herr is for lacrosse. Herr received blessing from his fiance for them to schedule their wedding date on Oct. 23 in Kauai, Hawaii. That makes it convenient because he’ll fly out to Oahu on the 26th for a men’s Masters tournament.
“My fiance loves me so much and understands how deeply embedded I am in this game,” Herr said.