Chris Jarvis stays busy as an attorney at Clayton-based Reeg Lawyers. But he maintains a full calendar outside of the office as one of five coaches for the Saint Louis University High School (SLUH) lacrosse team.
The investment has paid off: On May 26, the Des Peres native's team took home a state championship and the accompanying Sennett Memorial Cup.
He credits the words of a beloved coach—the late Mike Sennett, considered by many to be the father lacrosse in Missouri—with inspiring him and countless others to give back to the sport that gave them so much.
Jarvis began his journey to coaching as a student at De Smet Jesuit High School in Creve Coeur. A few of his friends had played for De Smet's lacrosse team as eighth graders, and Jarvis found the game exciting and "extremely fun to watch."
It proved to be a highly successful time for the De Smet team: It won multiple state championships in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Jarvis spent several years on the team under Sennett. The coach, a Michigan native, worked tirelessly to grow lacrosse in Missouri and helped players connect with colleges. Jarvis credits Sennett with helping him identify a college to attend and later playing the sport at that level.
"Everything that I have kind of came from that," Jarvis said.
The coach's famous mantra—give back to this game what it gave to you—rang in the ears of Jarvis and his friends after they left high school.
Jarvis got his bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame, where he played lacrosse. He came back to Missouri to attend law school at Saint Louis University, and he remained active in lacrosse there, too. He and several friends helped coach for a lacrosse program that Sennett had started at the Mathews-Dickey Boys' Club.
In 2007, Sennett died unexpectedly. He was only 38. His passing stunned the St. Louis lacrosse community and left Jarvis in tears. In the wake of his death, supporters built a blog and shared their favorite memories. People packed into the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis for his funeral.
Jarvis and his friends realized Sennett wouldn't be around to hold their hands any longer. So they agree to keep his legacy alive by building on the work he had begun.
Eventually, Jarvis' friend and fellow De Smet graduate Mark Seyer ('02) became head coach of the lacrosse team at SLUH, a De Smet rival. Jarvis later joined the program as an assistant coach who works with goalies and on offensive play.
Two other De Smet alumni, Tom McKittrick ('03) and Josh Habermaas ('96), also joined the team in coaching roles. And Andrew Toussaint, a former resident of the Washington, D.C., area, brings to the table an extensive knowledge of lacrosse play on the East Coast.
Together, they began building the team.
Jarvis had to adopt his schedule as a lawyer in order to get time with the team. He joined Reeg Lawyers, a 17-person corporate defense litigation firm, in August 2010 and specializes in estate planning, among other subjects.
During this year's season, which ran from late February to late May, he got into the office at about 6:30 a.m. and ended the day at 4. That allowed him to attend team practices, which are held for two hours every weekday afternoon.
His boss didn't mind.
"We're a busy litigation firm, and Chris has a significant amount of work to do," said Kurt Reeg, the firm's managing partner. "But I've always been somebody that tried to give back."
The law firm's employees volunteer regularly, and the firm engages in other charitable activities, Reeg said. That includes donating nursing scholarships to Missouri Baptist University and providing support to veterans groups and service-dog organizations.
After learning about how Jarvis would be giving back to the athletes, Reeg encouraged him to pursue coaching.
"I think it's a great opportunity for everybody, and we're happy to support him in that," Reeg said.
Jarvis isn't alone in juggling work in the office and on the field: None of the team's other coaches work for SLUH, either.
A winning season
The SLUH lacrosse team capped off its 21-2 season May 26 with a championship win over MICDS at Lindenwood University.
SLUH had hoped this would happen. It had lost only one in-state game during the season, and the loss came against MICDS in triple overtime.
It proved to be a warm day for a game.
"The heat and humidity were out of this world," Jarvis said. The referees chose to provide water breaks for the athletes, something he'd never seen.
SLUH led 4-3 going into halftime. But in the third quarter, MICDS scored a quick point and tacked on two others to go up 6-5.
Finally in the fourth quarter, SLUH "dug deep," Jarvis said. The team tied the game with about six minutes left in the game and scored again with 1:43 left to play.
MICDS got the ball back and attempted to score, but SLUH's goalie prevented it. SLUH ran out the last 30 seconds of the game to win, 7-6.
Jarvis said team members never got complacent during the season. But after the fierce final match, they thanked the coaches for pushing them in practice.
They're hoping to build on their success next season.
Editor's note: Follow the SLUH lacrosse team on Twitter at @SLUHLacrosse.