Features | 1/24/2013 2:54:08 PM | Alex Beilman
|Steve Dietrich (Photo: Bandits.com)|
Buffalo Bandits general manager Steve Dietrich has been pretty busy in the past sixth months. For starters, he was just named GM of the team he had spent six seasons with between 2002 and 2007 on July 19th. Just 11 days later, he was elected to the NLL Hall of Fame on July 30th.
“It’s an incredible honor. When you’re playing, you never look at yourself as [a hall-of-famer] or imagine you’ll ever get there,” Dietrich said. “To get inducted, it was a tremendous feeling.”
Dietrich understands it is important to put the pomp and circumstance of his induction behind him and focus on bettering the Bandits in his new position. However, he never envisioned himself being in this position so early in his career as an executive.
“I saw that there had been an opening, and never really thought of it or thought of applying for it. I didn’t think I had enough credentials in the NLL,” Dietrich recalled. “I got a call from Scott [Loffler, Bandits Director of Lacrosse Operations] and he had talked to some people who had recommended me. After meetings with Scott and Darris [Kligour, Bandits head coach] they offered me the job.”
Dietrich admits that not only did he always have his eye on a general manager job, but specifically the spot in Buffalo.
“I was tremendously honored because it’s been a dream job,” Dietrich said. “Ever since I played in Buffalo, that’s where I wanted to be. Some people aspire to be a coach, I aspired to be a GM and I aspired to be a GM in Buffalo.”
It did not come easy, however. After retiring as a player, he served as the goalie coach for the Toronto Rock for two seasons, and served as general manager for the Kitcher-Waterloo Kodiaks of Major Series Lacrosse for five years.
“I think it was good for me to go from player to assistant coach. In Toronto, everybody had their input and nobody was bigger than anybody else. The lessons I learned there are something I am able to translate to what I do here in Buffalo,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich’s main goal once he took over the job was to return the Bandits organization to the top of the league standings after a disappointing 2012 season in which the team finished 7-9 and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
“Having the benefit being away from the Bandits for a few years, you get a look at the roster in a different light. I knew coming in we wanted to make some changes,” Dietrich said.
His biggest concern was that some players no longer took pride in being a Bandit. Dietrich recalls the favorite part of his playing days was having pride in putting on a Bandits jersey and performing at the highest level in front of near-capacity crowds on a regular basis.
“Being a Bandit, and coming out of that tunnel, and playing in front of 18,000 people every week is something I viewed as a huge honor and was something I never took for granted,” Dietrich said. “From afar, it seemed that had become something people had taken advantage of and began to take for granted. We wanted to bring in players that would understand what an honor it is to be a Bandit and bring in some team-oriented guys whose goal is to win a championship. You’re never happy with what you have, but I think we’ve done a good job so far.”
Dietrich says that the motivation to restore pride in the team never once allowed him to doubt what he was doing.
“To be honest, my time in Kitchner gave an idea of what I have to do as a GM,” Dietrich said. “I’ve always been confident in my ability to look at players and I’ve always been confident in trusting the people I have around me. Everybody has input here. When we talked about making deals, we were happy with what we had done so there was no self-doubt.”
Although it’s early in the season, Dietrich is breathing a bit easier as his team is riding back-to-back come-from-behind victories to find a spot near the top of the division with a 2-1 record.
“I am not overly enthused with the play of the defense, but that is where we made the most changes. I think they need time to gel and adjust to Darris’s system,” Dietrich said. “Other than that, I think the offense is starting to come. But you never know in this league, it’s so competitive, and any team can win on any given night.”
It won’t be easy to judge what Dietrich has done until the season ends, but between his pride in the team and the competitive nature of the league, he is always willing to make changes to push his team over the top.
“We’re happy with what we’ve done,” Dietrich said. “At the end of the day, we’re always talking and we’re always looking for ways to improve this team.”