One year ago, I was coaching my first lacrosse team. It was also the first team that was MY team. Coaching the 7/8 Arlington Admirals girls team re-ignited my love for lacrosse. I hadn’t really played or done anything with it since I was in high school, and coaching gave me a way to get back to the game I love. I then transitioned to coaching the Monarchs, the local travel team, and went to my first lacrosse tournament with them, which was quite an experience. I learned a lot from both of those teams and those girls, and am so happy that I was able to coach them. When I moved to Seattle in January, I knew I wanted to keep coaching somehow; I’d found somewhere to coach either hockey, learn to skate, or lacrosse, every year since the spring of 2012. When I got here, I knew that coaching hockey was going to be out of the question, since the closest rink is 11 miles away from my apartment. I decided instead to look for options coaching girls lacrosse. After a month of settling in, I really started searching for the right fit: I needed a team that had games on the weekends, and didn’t have practice more than three times per week. I also needed to find a team that practiced nearby, so that I could get to the field via public transport. That’s when my searching led me to the Queen Anne Quick Styx.
QAQS is just like the Arlington Admirals girls program; it’s meant to build the game of lacrosse. I was in luck that they needed a coach, and the schedule worked out perfectly, 5pm practices on Mondays and Wednesdays, and games on the weekend. My first few practices went as expected, I was meeting the players and my fellow coaches, adjusting to the practice plans and times, and figuring out what level the girls were at so that I could coach them in the right way. After two weeks of practice we were ready to split up the 40 7th and 8th graders, as well as us four coaches, into two teams. I am currently coaching the Gold team, which is all seventh graders, and half of our girls are brand new to lacrosse. It is a ton of fun being able to teach the new girls how to play and seeing them develop their skills, because a few weeks makes a huge difference for them. The biggest difference I saw in the girls was in our games this past weekend.
We have been practicing together as a team for about a month now, and this past weekend we had a tough game scheduled against Bellevue. Not only was it going to be a tough game, it was also our first away game. We ended up winning the game 9-4. The girls really stepped up, and were able to find their way through the game. I few of our new girls made some great catches and passes, and played some great position defense. Our returners and stronger girls had great leadership and communication on the field. One of the parents who kept track of the stats told us that out of all the draws we took, we only lost three; that’s an amazing number for a group with so many new players. My fellow coach Ariel and I both looked at each other in amazement after the game, we couldn’t believe how proud we were of how the girls played. They’ve improved so much over the past four weeks, and it really shows on the field. I can also definitely attest that as much as you can do in practice, you don’t really understand your position, and how it works on the field, until you’re in a game situation. With a few games under their belts, the girls are starting to figure out their roles, and where they are supposed to be on the field. One of our brand new players got to take an 8M shot (kindof like a free throw in basketball, except there’s a goalie in the net and defenders ready to pounce as soon as the whistle goes) and she scored. It’s the little things like that, seeing the girls score their first goal, and how they’re fighting for the ground balls, and riding the opposing team down the midfield.
I love being a coach for that reason: I love being able to see the progress the players, it’s honestly one of the most gratifying things. Knowing that their confidence is building and that they’re working towards becoming great lacrosse players is unlike any other feeling I know.
So here I am, a year later and with more experience under my belt, still amazed at how much impact a coach has on the girls. I’ve heard people talking about how they would play against teams who would trash talk, and give cheap shots, and my response to them is that that player is likely like that due to the coaching that he had as a kid. Coaches are extremely important to the development of kids into, not just athletes, but people. I want to have an impact on the athletes and I want them to have a good time, because why play a sport if you’re not developing or having fun. I know that this is something that I want to keep doing in my life, because I will always feel like I’m making a difference. Whether is be teaching a little kid how to skate, or going over a motion offense in lacrosse, I’ll be happy as long as I have a stick in my hand and a whistle around my neck.