When brothers Nick and Pat Myers were growing up in Kennebunk in the 1990s along with their close friend Peter Toner, it would have been hard to imagine all three would become NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse coaches.

“We fell in love with this idea that maybe we could make a living out of this after college,” Pat Myers said. “We never dreamed where we would be now, but it started with the idea of hardworking parents.”

Nick Myers, the oldest, graduated from Kennebunk High in 1997. He is in his eighth season as head coach at Ohio State. His teams have advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals two of the past three seasons. The Buckeyes are 5-4 this season entering a home game Saturday against No. 2 Notre Dame.

Pat Myers and Toner were two years behind and graduated from Kennebunk in 1999. Pat is the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania. Toner is the associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Penn State.

And to think, when Nick graduated from Kennebunk, lacrosse was still a fledgling program not yet supported by Kennebunk High. Officially sanctioned Maine Principals’ Association lacrosse championships were still a year away.

“Think about where Nick Myers came from,” says Pat Moody, a Kennebunk math teacher who coached the Myers brothers in basketball. “When he played, lacrosse wasn’t even a high school sport. They were playing at an elementary school off site, and now he’s the head coach at Ohio State and he’s won games at the NCAA tournament.

“I’m always overwhelmed by where they’ve gone and where they were at the time.”

This summer, the Kennebunk trio will be together in Coquitlam, British Columbia, for the U19 world championships from July 7-16. Nick is the head coach. He didn’t hesitate when it came to naming his first two assistants.

“Pat and Peter were priorities for me,” Nick said. “They’re both associate head coaches and guys that I trust, guys who are family to me.”

The U.S. U19s have never lost a world championship competition. But Canada’s men’s and women’s senior teams took gold at the most recent world championships.

“Yeah, there’s pressure,” Pat Myers said. “And as all these other teams, from Canada, from the Iroquois Nation, from Australia, keep improving, this is the first time college coaches are coaching the U19 team.”

ALL IN THE FAMILY

How did three boys from a Maine town of roughly 10,000 residents become major college lacrosse coaches?

It starts with Nick and Pat Myers’ parents – all four of them.

Fred Myers, a middle school social studies teacher, and Miriam Myers, a high school English teacher at Massabesic, divorced when the boys were young.

Fred eventually married Mary McCarthy, an art teacher at Kennebunk Middle School. Miriam married Charlie Burch, a history teacher at Massabesic who also coached the state’s premier high school lacrosse program at Cape Elizabeth.

“We were raised by four educators, and that probably had the biggest impact,” Nick said.

Fred had already instilled a passion for sports – all sports – into his sons and was always there to play catch or watch a game on television. Burch, now the University of New England men’s lacrosse coach, gets credit for introducing lacrosse.

“I think they saw my coaching career and all of their parents are teachers,” Burch said. “I think the lifestyle appealed to them.”

Nick and Pat became water boys for Burch’s Cape Elizabeth teams. They got Mohawk haircuts like Cape’s players. They toted lacrosse sticks around Kennebunk.

At the same time, Miriam Myers-Burch ran the Kennebunk club lacrosse program out of her house.

Toner and Pat Myers became close at a young age.

“Pete’s like a brother. He’s like our third brother, really, when the three of us are together,” Pat Myers said. “That’s at least how I feel about it.”

In Nick’s senior year, the three “brothers” played football and lacrosse together.

Toner played hockey in the winter.

“Football would end and then the next day we would start either basketball or hockey,” Toner said. “Those would end, and then it would be lacrosse.”

In the summer, there was always some game to be played.

Nick fondly remembers wearing out the Kennebunk High wall with his lacrosse ball. When they got older, they took their lacrosse pursuits on the road.

“We were driving to the Portland area to play in summer leagues against these guys from Cape Elizabeth who were really good players, guys who were literally like 30 years old playing men’s pickup games, and we were just high school kids,” Toner said.

THE NEXT STEP

Then came a series of decisions and steps by the young men that impacted each other.

Nick went to some showcase tournaments and was recruited by Division III Springfield.

“Nick kind of pioneered us through that recruiting process,” Toner said.

Toner saw the success Nick was having at Springfield and followed him there.

Pat Myers became the first Mainer to earn a Division I lacrosse scholarship, at Ohio State. (Jon Thompson of Freeport and North Yarmouth Academy committed to Brown the same year. Thompson is now the head coach of Amherst College.)

When Nick graduated from Springfield, he used his younger brother’s connections to land an unpaid volunteer coaching position at Ohio State.

During summers, the Kennebunk trio worked at summer lacrosse camps. Once, they formed their own coaching staff and took a Maine Select team to an out-of-state tournament.

“When we worked camps, we were always trying to be as professional as possible,” Pat Myers said.

Soon, Nick got a full-time coaching job as an assistant at Butler (he fondly recalls playing basketball with Celtics Coach Brad Stevens, then a Butler assistant).

“Once Nick came to Ohio State and came on as a volunteer coach for my junior and senior year, it was like, ‘oh wow, we can actually do this.’ I just followed Nick’s path,” Pat Myers said.

After a brief playing stint in Major League Lacrosse, Pat Myers has coached at Cornell, Bucknell and North Carolina before joining the Penn staff in 2015. Toner’s stops have been Springfield, Wheaton (as a head coach) and Bryant before going to Penn State in 2011.

This summer, the three will join together as an official coaching staff.

“In some respects, the three of us are right back at summer camp,” Pat Myers said. “We know each other so well. But at the same time, we have grown as men and that’s the cool part of this process, seeing what a great coach Pete has become, and admiring Nick and knowing he’s a polished Division I head coach.”