When the Dexter High School varsity lacrosse team takes to the field in the spring, there will be a noticeable difference in the team's leadership structure.
After three years and multiple championships, Coach Brian Callanan is stepping down from the program to follow his wife to New Jersey for a job relocation.
"(Leaving) has been one of the most difficult decisions in my life," Callanan said. "The lacrosse program in Dexter is special to me. The student athletes are a special group of men, who are dedicated and committed. Their tenacity to succeed is unparalleled to anything I've experienced."
Since Callanan took over the program, the Dreadnaughts have gone 51-8 in three years and became a regional powerhouse as soon as they stepped onto the field.
The winning seasons are just the tip of the iceberg for the team, however.
Last season, six athletes were signed to play college lacrosse. In the past three years, Dexter has graduated 10 athletes who have gone on to play the sport at the collegiate level.
"I came here with a vision. It took a lot of hard work but the program really came to fruition. To see these boys push themselves and succeed on and off the field, that's why you do this," Callanan said.
Dexter Lacrosse President Craig Brosch has worked alongside Callanan volunteering his time as a "pay it forward" approach after Callanan helped Brosch's son John acquire a college scholarship to the Citadel in South Carolina.
"Brian has made this program what it is," Brosch said. "We're known across the country as a hotbed for lacrosse. When we go to camps, the kids are known as Callanan's kids. They play hard, but they play clean. It's a privilege for these kids to wear the Dexter uniform."
Brosch said he is eternally grateful for Callanan's leadership, and he will miss him both as a coach and as a friend.
"Our success story isn't just the kids who received college scholarships. This program has brought some of these kids in danger of giving up academically back from the ledge," he said.
Dexter High School senior Joseph Harrow has been playing lacrosse for the past two years and said he's tried to emulate Callanan's leadership.
"He tries to shape us as men," Harrow said. "It's going to take 20 people to replace him in this program. He's a great guy, and we'll all miss him."
DHS student Scott Rogers echoed Harrow, stating "Coach is the man that built our organization from the ground up; the man that has pushed all of us to be greater than we thought we could be."
Brosch said the club plans to hire a coach for the varsity and junior varsity teams in time for the 2013 season.
"I have no doubt we'll find someone who will continue Brian's level of commitment to the lacrosse players. What coach wouldn't want to come into this situation that we've built up in Dexter?" he asked.
Callanan said he plans to stay in touch with the program and several players during the next several months to provide guidance during the program's transition.
"This organization is about helping young men get ready for the future and expect more of themselves," he said. "As a coach, you always want to make a difference in the life of a student. If I did that, then my time in Dexter was well spent."