First-year Virginia coaches Aaron Smith and Lars Tiffany are facing the same challenge: following in the footsteps of their mentors. Smith replaced women’s volleyball coach Dennis Hohenshelt in February; Tiffany took over for men’s lacrosse coach Dom Starsia last June.
The 32-year-old Smith, who played under Hohenshelt at Penn State and served on his staff at Virginia for five years, begins his first season this fall. “He certainly was and still is a mentor for me,” says Smith. “I think from the outside looking in it could be weird or awkward, but I can’t tell you how supportive he has been. He realizes this was a dream.”
The 48-year-old Tiffany, who played for Starsia at Brown University from 1987-90 before becoming the head coach there, led Virginia to an 8-7 record in the spring, though the Cavaliers failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. “I’m disappointed with the results in our ACC games,” says Tiffany, “but I’m pleased with how we competed and the emotional and mental approach that our men have taken to learning a new system and style of play.”