Rico Silvera is no longer lacrosse coach at Webb

By Steve Williams

Rico Silvera, who guided Webb School to the Tennessee Scholastic Lacrosse Association (TSLA) state championship on May 17, is no longer the Spartans’ head coach after 21 years.

“Effective July 1st, I am no longer the head boys lacrosse coach at Webb School of Knoxville,” Coach Silvera told The Focus last week in a statement. “I did not retire nor was I terminated for any wrong doing that was expressed to me in any way. This was the execution of a written compensation agreement I signed and entered into with Webb on March 1st 2024 during this past lacrosse season.

“This compensation agreement was the result of a difficult negotiation with the Webb School. I was an ‘off campus coach’ at Webb for my 21 seasons there. My compensation package at Webb included both an annual stipend and a prorated share of the lacrosse camps I developed and ran for Webb. In the fall of 2023 decisions were made by new the athletic director (Dan Gill) to restrict the eligible age of campers at one of my camps.

“In the case of the second camp, Webb Camp Director Allison Hodges stated that I must use a ‘younger assistant’ that I would hire at my expense for the day-to-day functions of the camp. She also decided that camp would have a low hard cap on attendance. The net effect would be to reduce my overall compensation level over 30 percent from 2022 levels.

“I then requested a salary review. Webb declined my salary requests until I offered to also volunteer to step away after the season. It is not how I wanted to leave or when I wanted to leave.

“In retrospect, I am grateful to David Meske who was my athletic director and mentor for 20 seasons. Dave took a chance on a coach he didn’t know and to start a sport nobody wanted at Webb (except 27 Webb students).

“I leave the program confident in its health and position as the premier lacrosse program in the Knoxville area. In the end, I believe the publicly stated preference of the new Webb administration to the ‘Teacher/Coach’ model may have contributed significantly to their decisions.

“My faith is important to me. And I believe the Lord closes doors and opens others. In the end, this February I prayed for only two things – to get to coach this team this year and for them to have the best season possible. By any metric, my prayers were richly answered. In that context I could have no regrets.”

This reporter also requested a comment from Gill, Webb School’s Athletic Director, last week. He sent an attached copy of a message he had sent to families of Webb lacrosse players on May 21 – four days after the Spartans won the state title – regarding Silvera’s departure:

“As you may already know, Rico Silvera, by mutual agreement, will be stepping down as head coach of Webb’s varsity boys’ lacrosse program following a stellar 21-year coaching career with the Spartans.”

There were many other complimentary comments about Coach Silvera throughout the message to the parents.

On Friday, Gill was asked: With Silvera having been a longtime non-faculty coach at Webb School, is the plan for the new lacrosse head coach to be on the faculty and a teacher? And do you expect Webb to name a new head coach soon?

“Relative to your inquiry, the position is currently posted and will remain open until filled,” replied Gill. “It is not a prerequisite for the candidate to be a full-time faculty/staff member, however there is a MS (Middle School) PE/Wellness position available should there be a need and the appropriate credentials are fulfilled.”

Silvera, 69, pointed out a lot of changes had been made at Webb School the past couple of years, particularly in the Athletics Administration.

Silvera’s Spartans defeated Christ Presbyterian Academy of Nashville 14-5 for the TSLA Small Private Division title at Nolensville as sophomore players scored 13 of the team’s 14 goals.

How did the Webb players react when they heard the news that Silvera would no longer be coaching at Webb? They had just won the state title for their coach.

“Three days after the state championship, I told the players in a private meeting,” recalled Rico. “There were a lot of tears on both sides. It was the first time they had any indication of what was going to happen.”

Silvera said Friday he has not coached his last lacrosse game.

“I have already entered into an agreement with a program, but until it gets through human resources I don’t want to make it public.”

Lacrosse will become a TSSAA sanctioned sport in the 2024-25 school year.