Life of lacrosse coach combines Star Trek, sport

Star Trek ex-actor and lacrosse All-American athlete now coaches boys’ varsity lacrosse.


Boys’ varsity lacrosse coach Tarik Ergin coaches during a game. Ergin, a former Star Trek actor, has led the Eagles to an impressive start to the season (printed with permission from Whitney McCleery).

The shuffling of feet and the clanking of lacrosse sticks echo across Medea Creek Middle School as Oak Park’s boys’ varsity lacrosse team begins their practice. The shuffling of feet instantly turns to stomps, the sound of sprinting, as a voice shouts “pick it up!” The voice belongs to head coach Tarik Ergin.

Ergin, a former All-American lacrosse player, said he has been impacted by lacrosse since he was young — as a player, coach and fan.

Ergin’s lacrosse career began in the fifth grade when his sister’s high school boyfriend, a lacrosse player and midfielder, gave Ergin a lacrosse stick to play with.

My high school coach is in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, and so I was just really lucky to have great coaches.

— Tarik Ergin

“I played in the backyard by myself for a year before I was old enough to join a team,” Ergin said. “I was the only kid who could throw and catch on day one, so I immediately was a starter.”

Ergin continued his lacrosse career playing at Cornell University; he became a midfielder on the team.

“The first year [of college] was probably the hardest year of my life and the three after that were probably the best years of my life,” Ergin said.

Ergin attributes his successes as a player, including receiving All-American honors, to his coaches.

“I played for a legend … the guy who was the Vince Lombardi of the era,” Ergin said. “My high school coach is in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach, and so I was just really lucky to have great coaches.”

After completing his lacrosse career at Cornell University, Ergin moved to California in 1990, where he attended business school at Pepperdine University. Ergin said he expected to be done with lacrosse, but said a conversation with a member of the university’s lacrosse team changed his mindset.

“I was out for a jog and as I was running by the track I saw kids on the field playing lacrosse, so I stopped to watch,” Ergin said. “One of the kids came up to me and he said ‘Do you play lacrosse?’ and I said ‘Yea’ and he said ‘Would you like to play for us?’ and I said ‘I don’t think I have any eligibility.’ and he said ‘Do you want to coach?’ So I said ‘Sure’ … Two years later I was the head coach,” Ergin said, laughing.

Ergin went on to coach at Whittier College, an NCAA Division III school, then for various lacrosse clubs during the summer. He was eventually hired to be the head coach at Oak Park High School, where he has coached for eight years.

“My expectation is that [the athletes] give 100 percent effort and put their heart and soul into [the team],” Ergin said.

The Eagles started their season earlier this spring, and currently have a record of eight wins and two losses. This record includes successive wins against rivals Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks and Westlake. Senior and attackman Callum McCleery said he attributes the team’s success to Ergin and the assistant coaches.

“I think that our 7-2 record, coming off of four big wins, starts with the coaches motivating us. The team really responds to that by getting really hyped and coming out hard and [we are] able to beat these teams that we haven’t beaten for four or five years in a row,” McCleery said.

Ergin’s own life has been, in his words, “surreal.” Ergin began an acting career in his early adulthood, working on several projects before being hired to work on Star Trek.

Ergin was an actor for 11 years in the Star Trek franchise, portraying Lieutenant Ayala. He said that he enjoyed the freedoms that acting had to offer.

My body is banged up and broken down at this age. But I wouldn’t give up a single game just to feel better.

— Tarik Ergin

“For somebody who is reluctant to grow up, it is a great job,” Ergin said. “I got to go to work every day and play.”

Ergin said that he loves to play and have fun during lacrosse as well.

“[Ergin] always finds a way to make practice fun, but he also understands when it is time to go to work and prepare for the upcoming team,” junior and attackman Adam Julius said.

Julius has played for Ergin for three seasons., and he said he admires that Ergin holds such an expectation of success for his players.

“[Ergin] is a great coach that demands a lot from his players, but that makes us demand a lot from ourselves and makes us better players,” Julius said.

After a lifetime of lacrosse, Ergin said his body is sore, but that he does not regret his playing days.

“My body is banged up and broken down at this age,” Ergin said. “But I wouldn’t give up a single game just to feel better.”