When he wasn’t playing professional lacrosse for the Chesapeake Bayhawks, Ben Rubeor enjoyed his work as a financial analyst at an Owings Mills-based venture capital firm just fine.
Even established veterans in Major League Lacrosse need a day job. For nearly two years, the former University of Virginia All-American attackman regularly worked more than 40 hours per week in an entry-level position that put him on a track toward a six-figure salary.
But working for a firm that specialized in helping turn dreams for startup companies into reality provided Rubeor with consistent reminders that his heart remained on the lacrosse field.
Two summers ago, Rubeor, 27, finally mustered the courage to give up his steady paycheck and turn his focus to coaching the sport. A steady presence with the local professional lacrosse team over the past four seasons, he is now a rookie head coach at St. Mary’s-Annapolis.
“I decided I wanted to go for it,” Rubeor said. “[The finance job] kind of inspired me to follow my passion and see if I couldn’t make a career out of it.”
At St. Mary’s, Rubeor has traded the high-stakes world of business for the pressures of coaching in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association’s A Conference, widely regarded as the country’s top boys’ lacrosse league. He’s deftly pulled the balancing act necessary to lead a high school team, while continuing his career at the sport’s highest level.
Rubeor will be on the sideline calling the shots on Friday night when the Saints (5-8) honor their 19 seniors before they host Severn. On Saturday, he’ll be in uniform at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis when the Bayhawks face the Long Island Lizards in their home opener.
“We’re really lucky to have him,” St. Mary’s Athletic Director Trey Whitty said. “If you ask lacrosse people the smartest players in the game, I think Ben Rubeor would be at the top of a lot of lists.”
Rubeor, a Baltimore native who played in the MIAA-A at Loyola Blakefield, got his initial taste of coaching in 2009 when he volunteered with the Cavaliers while still a grad student.
Following his foray into the business ranks, Rubeor became offensive coordinator last spring at Maclay School in Tallahassee, Fla., a job he landed after leading a clinic in the area with former Georgetown Prep All-Met Bray Malphrus.
Whitty, who also played at Virginia, hired Rubeor in late August, replacing Rob Chomo.
Now working in the same town in which he plays he plays, Rubeor has plenty of willing mentors in his pro coaches and team owner Brendan Kelly, whose nephew Liam is a first-line midfielder for the Saints.
Rubeor said he’s borrowed a few of the Bayhawks tactics and tailored them to his high school team’s personnel.
“I can feel like I’ve got a finger on the pulse of the most up-to-date things that are going on in the game,” Rubeor said.
St. Mary’s has been competitive throughout Rubeor’s inaugural season but struggled in close contests. The Saints have dropped six of seven conference games with three of them by a single goal.
Rubeor praised the players for staying positive and senior captain Spencer Coyle said the coach has made the transition smooth for everyone by keeping the lines of communication open.
The Navy recruit got to know Rubeor through the Bayhawks youth program and shot around with him a few times this summer before he got the coaching job.
“He knows how we think and how it is to be a player, obviously,” said Coyle, who has seven goals and 20 assists this season. “He listens to what we have to say.”
During the season, the Bayhawks practice in Annapolis twice a week beginning at 7:30 p.m. and play on Saturdays, which so far hasn’t caused many conflicts with the high school schedule.
Last week, Rubeor hopped on a plane hours after the Saints lost at Gilman to get to Tampa for his professional team’s opener. The Bayhawks beat the Rochester Rattlers, 17-14, with the coach providing a goal and an assist.
As his first season at St. Mary’s draws to a close, Rubeor said he feels more sure than ever about devoting his full-time attention to lacrosse.
“I feel re-energized getting out there with those boys,” Rubeor said. “That’s the best part of my day. Though our record doesn’t reflect it right now, we’re starting to play better lacrosse, and I know we’re going to get this thing right.”