Ex-Limestone All-American finds niche at Riverside

GREER – Zach Cummings was doing some coaching at Limestone College in the fall, helping the men’s lacrosse team for which he had played the previous two seasons.

After one practice, Limestone athletic director Mike Cerino pulled Cummings aside and, taking note of his coaching skills, asked if he might be interested in a position at Riverside High School — a head coaching position.

“I like the South,” said Cummings, a native of Crownsville, Md. “My girlfriend’s down here. She still has two more years at Limestone. So I was like, ‘Perfect.’ “

He interviewed, was hired and tonight, Cummings will lead the fourth-seeded Warriors (9-4) against visiting and fifth-seeded Spartanburg (7-4) in the first round of the boys lacrosse playoffs.

“He can relate to us, because he’s young enough,” said Riverside junior Ryan Cerino, son of Mike Cerino and a future Division I player who has committed to Bryant (R.I.) University. “We respect him a lot, because we know he’s a great lacrosse player, and he really knows the game and respects the game.”

“He sees everything,” said Jake Bertka, the Warriors’ standout senior midfielder. “If he tells you to fix it, you probably should do it, because he definitely knows what he’s talking about.”

Cummings, 25, graduated in December with a degree in criminal justice but admittedly had no idea what he wanted to do at that point. He had done some coaching as an assistant, both at Limestone and in the summers with clubs back in Maryland.

“Now I’m the head coach, making schedules, meeting with teachers, writing progress sheets for the boys,” said Cummings, who’s assisted by former Limestone teammate Jack Ziems. “It’s a lot, but I love it. I think I’ve found my niche. I want to do something within the school, coach, maybe be an AD eventually.”

In the meantime, he’s serving an internship in the athletic department at Limestone — learning from his former coach, J.B. Clarke, as well as Mike Cerino — while pursuing another dream. In December, Cummings was taken in the Major League Lacrosse supplemental draft by the Charlotte Hounds, who are coached by Cerino.

It was Cerino, then the coach at Limestone, who recruited Cummings to come to Gaffney out of high school in 2007. Cummings signed but opted for a Maryland junior college.

He came to Limestone for the 2010-11 school year and redshirted and then played the next two seasons and became a first-team All-American.

This weekend, Cummings will begin training camp with the Charlotte Hounds. The following weekend the Hounds will travel to Maryland to scrimmage the Chesapeake Bayhawks.

“It’s right down the street from my house,” Cummings said. “It’ll be kind of cool. I hope I make the team, but at least my parents and family can come see me play in an MLL scrimmage.”

So much to look forward to. But first, his current team has him pretty excited.

“My first playoff game as a coach, we have a winning season, I can’t ask for much more,” Cummings said. “I fell into a good school, the parents support Coach Ziems and I, and the guys want to learn and play. They’re making me look good.”

MORE ONLINE

Watch Zach Cummings talk about his first year of coaching at Riverside at GreenvilleOnline.com

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Lacrosse playoff pairings, 3C