Former Hampton star takes reins of school’s boys lacrosse program

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Saturday, September 18, 2021 | 11:01 AM


One of the winningest coaches in the history of Hampton boys lacrosse is being replaced by one of the program’s top players of all time.

Jim Vollberg, who led the Talbots to the 2015 WPIAL Class AA title and a steady run of championship-game appearances, will not return next spring for his eighth season, citing a need to devote more time to his young, growing family.

“It’s been coming for a while,” Vollberg said. “Over the last two, three years, things have been just been getting more and more hectic. … Unfortunately, out of the priorities I have set in life right now, lacrosse is the lowest.”

Hampton assistant coach Andy DeMichiei, a former All-American with the Talbots, will be promoted to the top spot, pending expected school board approval.

“He’s a great coach,” senior midfielder Dylan Beranek said of DeMichiei. “You can tell he’s been playing the game since he was a young kid. He really knows what he’s talking about.”

Vollberg stepped down in mid-July, after his wife, Tatyana, welcomed the family’s second child, a son. The boy joined a 2-year-old sister, and combined with the renovating of their new home — Vollberg, a former contractor, is doing “everything” — placed a time crunch on the software developer for PNC.

“I love my lacrosse boys, but it’s a different thing with your own family, for sure,” Vollberg, 41, of Richland said. “I kind of felt like Hampton has the right guy there. So, I don’t feel bad about stepping away. It seemed like it was just the right time to do it.”

Said Beranek, “Honestly, I did not see it coming. But looking at things, he did it for the right reason.”

Vollberg lobbied Hampton athletic director Bill Cardone and the school board for DeMichiei to succeed him as coach. DeMichiei, a member of the Hampton Athletic Hall of Fame’s newest class, coached at Pine-Richland for three seasons before joining Vollberg’s staff at his alma mater this past spring.

“Out of pretty much all the people in Western Pennsylvania that I would want taking over a program that I care about, it would be Andy,” Vollberg said. “He is a natural coach. He has all of the qualities that you’d want as a coach. I can’t say enough nice things about him.”

DeMichiei, 26, played for a pair of WPIAL lacrosse champions at Hampton (2011, ‘12) and went on to become an all-Big East selection at Marquette and a Major League Lacrosse draft pick.

“There were times last year when he would suit up with us, and he’d really push the intensity of practice and show us what a real lacrosse player looks like,” Beranek said.

Vollberg said he hopes to help with Hampton Youth Lacrosse and assist the high school program.

The Talbots reached the WPIAL playoffs in all of Vollberg’s six seasons — the 2020 season was canceled because of the pandemic — and reached the WPIAL title game four times in that span. In Vollberg’s first season, they brought home the 2015 WPIAL championship, and in 2019, they went 19-4 and became the first team in program history to win a PIAA playoff game.

Before Vollberg’s arrival, the Talbots had three coaches in three seasons.

DeMichiei inherits a roster that returns only three full-time starters from a team that went 11-5, losing to No. 4 seed South Fayette, 9-8, in the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals.

Expected to join Beranek as returning starters are long-stick midfielder Sean Donlan and midfielder Luke Hartle, both juniors. The Talbots will be young; last year’s team had only two juniors on the 34-man roster.

“When you only have one or two in a senior class, it’s kind of tough,” Vollberg said. “It’s going to be an uphill battle. … But Andy has some good kids coming in. My guess is within three years he will return a championship to Hampton.”

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