Meet Peter Toner
A Kennebunk native, Peter Toner enters his ninth season as a member of the Penn State Nittany Lions’ coaching staff, and his fifth as the associate head coach for the men’s lacrosse team.
Toner joined the Nittany Lions in 2010 as an assistant coach.
Before Penn State, Toner spent three seasons as associate head coach at Bryant (2008-10), where he served as the team’s defensive coach and recruiting coordinator. He helped guide the Bulldogs through their transition to Division I as the team went a combined 22-10 during its first two seasons at the nation’s top level.
Before working at Bryant, Toner served as head coach at Wheaton College for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. During his first season, the Lyons enjoyed their best campaign in school history, going 10-6 en route to a berth in the ECAC Division II Championship game.
Toner, who earned his undergraduate degree in sports management from Springfield College in 2003, worked as a graduate assistant at his alma mater for two seasons (2004-05). As a player, he helped lead the Pride to three NCAA Tournament appearances. A two-time captain, Toner garnered All-New England honors and was one of two intercollegiate men’s lacrosse players to collect National Strength and Conditioning Association All-America recognition.
* WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU LOVED LACROSSE?:
My first experience with lacrosse was at a Polar Bear lacrosse camp at Bowdoin college in probably 4th or 5th grade. I played football and hockey and knew instantly that this sport was for me and never looked back. I started playing organized lacrosse in 6th grade.
* WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HS AND COLLEGE LACROSSE?
The obvious of size, speed and skill comes to mind. The other big difference is when you get to college, everyone is good. You may be the best player in your town, or area, but when you get to college, everyone at that level is also the best from their town or area and it quickly forces you to sharpen you game and willingness to work hard and compete daily.
* IF YOU KNEW WHAT YOU KNOW NOW WOULD YOU HAVE CHANGED ANYTHING IN YOUR PREPARATION TO PLAY LACROSSE IN COLLEGE?
I probably would have focused on my fitness level as I entered my freshman year. It is a real challenge to come off the summer, and then jump on the field against college returners and try to fit in if you aren’t in good shape. The veteran athletes have been through that transition before and understand the preparation it takes to hit the ground running in the fall. If you are behind from a fitness standpoint, you’re making an already challenging transition that much tougher.
* WHO WERE YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCES/ ROLE MODELS IN LACROSSE?:
For me it was my youth and HS coaches, Josh Graham, Dave Cabot and Charlie Burch. I looked up to a number of upperclassmen when I started playing as well and wanted to push myself to be as invested in the sport as they were to have a chance to play at the next level.
* WHAT WAS/IS YOUR FAVORITE DRILL?:
As a defensive guy, I always loved 1 vs. 1’s. The competition level when you pit two players head to head to either defend the goal or get scored on was always a favorite of mine.
* WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO WORK ON INDIVIDUALLY TO IMPROVE YOUR GAME?
Two things come to mind; stickwork and IQ. You can never get enough reps with your stick, and the great part about it is that you don’t need anything or anyone to help you improve that. You need a stick, a ball and a wall to bounce the ball off of. I had always heard coaches tale about being a “student of the game”, which to me meant watching film. I always enjoyed watching practice or game film to analyze the game and learn from others to improve my lacrosse IQ and understanding.
* WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE ON THE LACROSSE FIELD?:
I’ve had many, but this past spring competing in a final four at Lincoln Financial field was very memorable. Having grown up either watching final fours on tv or attending them in person, being on that stage as a participant is something I will never forget.
* WHAT IS/WAS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE/ SAYING?:
“Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard”
* WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUNG PLAYERS TODAY?:
I would urge you to play multiple sports to learn how to work hard, become a great teammate and ultimately compete. The value in playing multiple sports as opposed to specializing, in my opinion will ultimately pay off. Most likely you will play a single sport in college if you have that opportunity, so if you specialize too early, the fear of losing your interest or becoming burnt out becomes much more of a reality from my experience.