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Mikey Herring is coaching at the place his father, Michael Sr., graduated from in 1989.

Mikey Herring Follows in Father’s Footsteps at Dartmouth

June 17, 2024
Justin Lafleur
Dartmouth Athletics

Mikey Herring’s father, Michael Herring Sr., recounted the first time Mikey picked up a lacrosse stick around the age of 4.

“One day, he went into our storage closet and came out with one of my old sticks from Dartmouth,” said Herring Sr., who graduated from Dartmouth in 1989. “He was like, ‘What's this’? We had a fireplace hearth, and I said, ‘Why don't you try to hit the bottom of the hearth and have the ball bounce and see if you can catch it?’

“Ten minutes later, you could hear boom, boom [pause] boom, boom. He already had it.”

His son’s lacrosse career was born.

After trying it right-handed, he wanted to see if his son could do the same thing lefty.

“He had to shimmy the stick around,” Herring Sr. said. “He first said he couldn’t do it, but I said, ‘Sure you can. Drop your hand down here, and I'll set you up.’ Fifteen minutes later, he was doing it left-handed.”

From picking up his father’s stick at 4 to coaching at Dartmouth two decades later, it’s only fitting that Herring ended up not only in the world of coaching like his father, but also at his father’s alma mater.

“I remember how fondly my dad would talk about his Dartmouth experience, not only playing lacrosse, but also as a student at the college,” he said.

Through one year at Dartmouth, Herring has experienced what the college has to offer. Last summer, he came to Dartmouth as offensive coordinator under new head coach Sean Kirwan.

“It was a really unique, full-circle situation,” Herring said. “Obviously, having my dad here and being familiar with the college was important, but it was also a chance to reconnect with Coach Kirwan, who has been a big mentor of mine. He really helped me along the way as a student-athlete at Virginia, and even during my first few years of coaching.”

His father played an integral role in his love for sports in general, not just lacrosse. He was the head lacrosse and basketball coach at The Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Mass.

“I grew up going to his practices and games and always bounced around at his events,” Herring said.

Herring played football, basketball and lacrosse, but from an early age, he had his sights set on playing lacrosse at a high level. His father helped make that dream a reality.

“A lot of my success as a player comes from spending time together [with my father],” he said. “He molded me after his game, which is pretty cool. He was a pass-first attacker at Dartmouth. I took after that.”

The father-son time together paid off in the form of a scholarship to Virginia. While there, Herring saw considerable action from the get-go and improved every year. As a freshman, he appeared in nine of Virginia’s 15 games. By the time he was a junior, Herring had 30 points (12 goals, 18 assists) before posting 35 points as a senior (17 goals, 18 assists), including six goals in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Robert Morris — tying a program NCAA tournament record.

The Cavaliers were 7-8 in Herring’s first year in 2016 and won the national championship in his senior season in 2019.

“I was fortunate to play one year for Coach Dom Starsia, who’s a legend,” Herring said. “Then, Coach [Lars] Tiffany and Coach Kirwan came in, and we were able to build. We really started to see a turnaround my junior year.”

After Virginia, Herring coached at VMI and UMBC before Kirwan came calling shortly after he was named head coach at Dartmouth last summer.

Any questions Herring had about making the move north were quickly answered by his father.

“It was going to be his decision, but his mother and I said Dartmouth is a pretty good name to have on your resume,” Herring Sr. said.

It’s hard not to fall in love with Dartmouth when you step on the Hanover, New Hampshire campus. That’s what happened to the Herrings when Herring Sr. was getting recruited in the 1980s.

“I visited the summer before my senior year of high school,” Herring Sr. said. “We had just crossed the Connecticut River and drove up the hill from Interstate 91. You get to the corner, and it’s the Hanover Inn and the Green. I was in the back seat of the car, and my mom turned around and said, ‘If you don’t go here, I’ll go here for you.’”

He went to Dartmouth and impressed, finishing fourth on the Big Green with 20 points as a junior in 1988.

Twenty-five years later, it was his son’s turn at Dartmouth when he joined a program that has some similarities to his time at Virginia.

“Coach Kirwan and I talk a lot about the similarities as a new staff, and where this program can go for the next few years,” Herring said.

Aspirations are high for the Big Green, and Herring hopes he can help the program reach its goals.

“I try to be relationship-driven,” he said. “It’s very important that the guys know I care about their development, on and off the field. I try to be relatable to the guys as a younger coach.”

Herring may be young, but he already has significant experience under his belt, serving as offensive coordinator at his previous coaching stops.

“I was very fortunate at both [VMI and UMBC] to have a lot of responsibility early in my career,” he said. “That, coupled with the preparation by Coach Kirwan in my senior year at UVA, has really allowed me to grow as a coach, molding me into the coach I am today.”

As a coach, Herring also likes to focus on player development.

“My dad really imprinted on me the commitment to the fundamentals and how some of the smaller things lead to bigger successes,” he said.

The father-son relationship is as strong as ever.

Herring played for his father for two years at Noble and Greenough. In college, his family lived in Maryland, not far from Charlottesville, Virginia.

“My family being at every game, it was special to share some of the success we had during those last two years at Virginia,” Herring said. “After the national championship game, I was very quick to find my dad in the stands to thank him for everything.”

Herring Sr. couldn’t get to Hanover for a Big Green game in 2024, but the family made the trip to Georgetown on March 19.

“It was really special to be wearing Dartmouth, coaching for Dartmouth, and have my dad in the stands,” Herring said.

Dartmouth scuffled to a 3-10 record in 2024, but the Big Green opened the year 3-3 and showed signs of progress, even in their losses. Dartmouth played Ivy League foes Penn and Brown tight in close losses.

Kirwan’s hire was one of the most lauded of the last hiring cycle. He and Herring hope the future is bright in Hanover.

As Herring Sr. told his son, “In my estimation, you have the best coaches in the country, or close to it, [at Dartmouth].”

That’s high praise from a longtime coach himself.

“I was very impressed with Coach Kirwan during Mikey’s time at UVA and his tutelage of Mikey,” Herring Sr. said. “They brought him into the office his junior year to help break down film because he was pretty sure he wanted to go down the coaching path. Coach Tiffany and Coach Kirwan really went out of their way to lay the groundwork for him.”

From the day he picked up his father’s Dartmouth stick at 4 years old, the trajectory for Herring has only been up.

“The sky's the limit for him,” Herring Sr. said. “From a technical coaching aspect, he’s through the roof. From a relational standpoint with his players, they’d go to the ends of the earth for him.”

Just like a father would for a son.