1. What inspired you to get into coaching?
I was always involved with sports since I was little whether I was playing, watching or taking stats, I was very involved. It all started in middle school when I fell in love with lacrosse. Granted it took me 7th and 8th grade to learn how to actually handle a stick and pick up a ball, but nevertheless, the sport was different from all the others I have tried before, and I think that’s what really interested me the most. There was always something I could do differently that would still be positive for myself and the team because of how creative the sports allows you to be. Entering High School, I tried out and made the freshman team, became a captain and continued to grow my lacrosse career. Went to state championships, summer leagues/camps, and met lots of other insanely talented athletes along the way. In college, I played club for a little, but my passion to keep grades up and start thinking about my future took over and I lost touch with the sport.
When I came back to STL after college, my best friend’s dad, who coached me when I was in middle school, asked me if I would be interested in helping coach the middle school team. I couldn’t have said yes any faster. I was so excited and nervous to be a part of someone else’s lacrosse career, just like Mike had been there for mine. I remember the day I went out and bought a whistle, backpack, clipboard and everything I would need to make a great coach, but little did I know those were not the tools I needed.
My first year was canceled because of covid. We had 2 practices and then the whole season was over. Coming back for my second year, I was ready and determined to have the best middle school team out there. It was the most terrifying moment of my life stepping onto the field because so many questions ran through my mind. Will they like me? What if I don’t teach them properly? How can I sound more positive and make this drill fun? What if they stop playing because of me?
Now, after starting my third year of coaching, I can honestly say the players are the ones who inspire me the most to be a coach. I know that sounds super cliche, but now I understand why it is all worth it. The talent you see in someone so young is just amazing and knowing that they are only going to polish these skills even more, blows my mind. It’s the small things that I look forward to like “thanks coach” or “see you tomorrow for practice” that make my heart happy to know they are excited to be there, learn more about the sport, and have the same love of the game as I still do.
2. Most successful moment as a coach?
I don’t have just one moment because that would be entirely way too hard to narrow down. I think the most successful moments are when I see a player score a goal for the first time and how the whole energy of the team shifts. It is exciting for anyone to score in any game, but with lacrosse I think it hits different. Each player has created in their mind the path they want to take, the dodge they are going to use to get past their defender, and the position of where the ball will hit the net as soon as they get the ball. It’s a whole strategic plan from the start. I think that is what makes the goal so rewarding and exciting because they have been patiently waiting to show off their hard work to themselves, the team and us coaches. I also think it’s cool how any player (defense, middie, attack) can score a goal in lacrosse, so the options are endless. This means a lot to me as a coach because it builds the players confidence and knowing I was the one who taught them that is all the glory I need. I may not be able to hug them on the field after the goal is made, but as soon as they come to the sidelines its loud, exciting, and a very memorable moment for everyone.
3. How have you changed the team’s culture?
This is easy, the middle school team Mike has been coaching has only been led by 2 male coaches since I left middle school, which was a very long time ago. I was the first female coach to step up and help out and I think that in itself changed a lot of how these young girls play. I’m not saying male coaches are not as good as females, but when you’re in middle school a lot is going on and sometimes having a coach of the same gender as you might bring out the best in the players. Besides this I have introduced a lot of new things to the team, which I think have helped these girls be more moved by the sport. For example, last year I started the season with a game day speech and each player received a piece of ribbon. The ribbons were different colors each week depending on the color meant. For example, blue is calm, relaxing and swift. Where red is bold, fiery and fast. The speeches revolved around the color and I included quotes to pump them up for the teams we were facing that day. They LOVED this and I continued that on into this year. Along with Players of the Week, were certain girls who showed improvement, exceptional growth and great athlete assets were rewarded for their behavior.
Middle schoolers need a lot of attention and acknowledgement. By making these small adjustments, I was able to connect with the girls on different levels, build a relationship and find out what works for them versus others. I think this was very helpful for Mike too because he was able to understand the players from a different point of view and relate, since he has 3 daughters of his own as well. Knowing the nature of kids is not the same as when I was in middle school. It has been challenging, but interesting to see what motivates them and how I can grow as a coach with the times changing too.
4. Favorite coaching philosophy?
It’s all for the love of the game. This was the motto of our high school lacrosse team and it has stuck with my high school since lacrosse was introduced. This has stuck with me as I know take on the middle school teams. This awesome sport allows for the players to make up the game as they go, while following the rules of course. What I mean is that not all goals need to be pretty, have a star player always shooting them, or need to happen the same way every single time. There is finesse, technique and power behind every shot taken. As a coach, I want them to make mistakes and try something new because they won’t learn from it if they don’t. I would rather lose to a great team knowing we played our best, than demolish a team and not put any effort into the game. It’s not about becoming the best feeder, defender, attacker, shooter or team to me. It’s about becoming a well rounded player who just falls in love with the sport so much she is willing to strive for greatness and can accomplish anything she sets her mind to because of everything she has learned in her lacrosse career.
5. Advice for anyone looking to get into coaching?
If you have the opportunity, go for it. I wouldn’t trade anything for my lacrosse Sunday’s and being with this family. It will seem like a lot at first, and very scary, but the lessons you will learn, the players you will connect with, and the excitement you will have walking onto the field with them is one like no other. It makes me excited to see my kids one day fall in love with a sport so much that they will hopefully one day learn from a great coach too. Then I will know what it feels like from a player, coach and spectators point of view that lacrosse is so much more than cleats, mouthguards and goggles. It taught me how to branch out, be loud, communicate, be a leader, take responsibility and encourage others all while doing something you love.