Leadership Ethics Accountability Discipline
Jon Birsner was named the new head coach for VMI lacrosse on June 22, 2015.
Birsner, a native of Levittown, New York, spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Southern Conference opponent Furman University. In addition to serving as Furman's offensive coordinator, Birsner also served as the program’s recruiting, travel, film, compliance and academic coordinator. He becomes the sixth head coach of the VMI lacrosse program, which was reinstituted in 1983.
“Coach Birsner immediately moved to the top of a talented pool of candidates,” Diles said. “He distinguished himself throughout the process as someone with the values, leadership skills and personal characteristics to lead this historically important program. In addition, his lacrosse background, both as a player and coach, is tremendously impressive. I am certain that he will connect exceptionally well with our passionate lacrosse community and be an outstanding coach, mentor and educator for our lacrosse cadet athletes. VMI lacrosse has an exceedingly bright future with a gifted coach that understands our unique mission and the high expectations associated with any leadership post at the Institute.”
Under the direction of head coach Richie Meade, Birsner helped the Paladins to a 4-9 record in 2015, its second year of existence following a 1-12 inaugural campaign in 2014. Before falling to SoCon runner-up Richmond by an 8-7 score in the tournament semifinals, the Paladins topped the Keydets, 13-5, on April 11 and clinched a tourney spot with a big win over Jacksonville on April 25. Birsner played an important role in developing 2015 first team All-Conference recipient Kenny Meinsen (midfielder) and SoCon Freshman of the Year Reilly McDermott (goalie).
Prior to arriving at Furman, Birsner spent 2009-2013 as a coach at the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island. He spent the last three seasons as head coach, where he compiled a 31-9 overall record, including a program-best 15-3 record and Post Graduate School championship in 2013. Coach Birsner has coached, developed and mentored nine Division 1 All-Conference players, one All-American and one Patriot League Rookie of the Year.
“I would like to thank General Peay and Dr. Diles for giving me the opportunity and honor to lead the lacrosse program at the Virginia Military Institute,” Birsner said. “It is a privilege to be a part of a great institution renowned for developing young men and women into leaders on and off the battlefield. I am proud to join the current family of cadets, graduates and faculty that display so much pride and passion; my family and I could not be more excited to get started.”
While playing under Meade at the Naval Academy (2003-2006), Birsner was twice named an All-American while guiding Navy to three top 10 finishes, including advancing to the NCAA Final Four and Championship game in 2004. He finished his senior year by being named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, the Patriot League tournament MVP as well as being selected to try out for Team USA in 2006. Birsner ranks eighth on Navy’s all-time points list (154), is fourth all-time in assists (105), and was voted team captain his senior season.
Birsner spent seven years (2006-2013) as an officer in the United States Navy as a surface warfare officer, serving in numerous division officer and company commander positions. His personal awards include the Bronze Star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (two awards) and Iraqi Campaign Medal as well as being a Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer.
A 2006 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Birsner earned a bachelor of science degree in economics. He is married to the former Elizabeth Dierdorff of Annapolis, Maryland. The couple had their first daughter, Eloise, in July 2015.