From Athlete to Coach

When I got to college on a lacrosse scholarship, admittedly I was confused. The sport was still relatively new to me, as I had spent most of my life doing competitive soccer. I had some people behind me who saw my potential and a work ethic that ended up propelling me to a very successful collegiate career. My hard work as a player and dedication to learn the ins and outs of the game put me in a position to coach at the college level. I was lucky enough to land a Graduate Assistant position at a Division III school that would allow me to keep growing the game as well as pay for my education while obtaining my master’s degree. I knew that coaching was going to be a new, weird, fun, and fulfilling job for me and I was excited.

That first game day was probably the hardest and it hit me in waves. I prepped the locker room for the girls. I hung the jerseys, left them game day surprises in their lockers, and hooked up the speakers. After I finished, I looked around and it hit me. This was the first game day I was a part of that wasn’t my own. They would start to file in and I left to go to the coach’s office to make sure we were ready to go. Then we headed out to the field. As the warm up music started and they began lacing their cleats up, it hit me again. The warm up came to a close, they filed in for stick check, lined up for the starting lineup, and then the national anthem played… it hit me again.

As a player, I spent every national anthem taking that short time to collect myself. I would quickly go through our scout of the other team, replay the film we had watched, and visualize myself shutting down my match up for the day. I did this every single game. As the national anthem started, I put my hand over my heart and I just hoped they were ready. As the game went on, I coached and cheered from the sidelines. It was weird not being in the defensive huddles or out there communicating through what we practiced with my “teammates”. But these weren’t my teammates, these were a group of girls who now looked to me to help them through their time playing collegiate lacrosse.

As this season has continued, I have had many more moments when it has hit me. It’s weird not participating in your favorite drills or going through pre-game superstitious rituals anymore, but everyone has to hang up the cleats eventually. Through coaching I have found debatably more passion for the game. All of those little phrases and speeches you heard over and over…and over again while playing make sense. I now find myself jumping on the sidelines with pride and excitement when my girls execute plays flawlessly, make a big save, or land a textbook check. It is definitely a different experience coaching than playing, but it is something I am forever grateful I’ve been able to be a part of. Like I said, everyone’s got to hang up the cleats eventually, but if that’s too hard, just grab a whistle.

Kaitlyn Kimball
Epoch Women Author

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