By RikkiLynn Shields, Editor
Originally from South Jersey, Coach McConnell began playing lacrosse when she entered high school. After high school, she continued her lacrosse career for four more years at Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania. From there, McConnell returned to Lock Haven to coach lacrosse for three years, beginning in 2013. Before ending up at Manhattan College, McConnell coached her last season at Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach.
“My dad’s a lacrosse coach, and I saw the impact that he had on people’s lives, and I wanted to be as involved as I could at the sport that really gave me a lot. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some really great coaches growing up, and I wanted to get back into the sport that really gave so much to me.” McConnell said.
From her many successes as a coach at other universities, McConnell has a lot to offer for the women’s lacrosse team. As a coach, McConnell believes that being positive is the best way to be the best, and see the best side of the girls on and off the field.
“My coaching philosophy is to be very positive. I think in our generation right now, athletes thrive in a positive environment, so I want to make sure that we’re enjoying ourselves everyday, that we’re having a good time playing, we’re getting better everyday, and we’re all doing our best to make sure that we are in an encouraging environment.”
With the 2017 season being her first season coaching at Manhattan College, McConnell was excited to see the team come back from winter break in great shape shape. Along with that, McConnell believes that the preseason for Jasper women’s lacrosse has been going great.
“With the season beginning in a few weeks, now we are focusing on our first scrimmage against Central Connecticut State in Nyack. We’re really looking forward to just implementing our offense and defense and really just seeing everything come together. Everybody has been working really hard so we’re really excited to see everything.”
Not only is McConnell excited to see her girls play for the first time, she also has some goals in mind for the team for the 2017 season.
“As a coach, and a coaching staff, our goals are definitely to be the best that we can be everyday. We really want to make a name for ourselves in the MAAC, and let people know that we’re a new team. I think as a team our goals are to just be more successful than we’ve been in the past, and to really step up as a team. With our leadership and our new coaching staff, I think that’s definitely feasible.”
McConnell says to look out for junior Sarah Lang, junior Kara Hodapp, and senior Darby Nolan, the three captains of the women’s lacrosse team who play very important roles on the field. With the women’s first game approaching in a little under two weeks, staying positive on and off the field is something that McConnell tries to instill in her team.
“I’m a very positive person and I think that you have to look at the positives in everything. I don’t really think anything is the worst that it possibly could be, and I think if you can find the positives in a situation, then you can really overcome anything. Especially on the field, if we are frustrated or we’re having a bad day, then we need to bring it in and highlight what we are doing correctly, and then go from there.”
Hodapp, Lang, and Nolan all believe that since the fall, the entire team has been improving and coming together as a whole, in hopes of making this season the most successful yet.
“I think the preseason has been extremely successful. I think coming back, this is the most motivated and excited that everyone has been, which keeps our goals in mind. Everyone is really focused on being successful this season, everyone is working hard, and every single day we are trying to get better.” Lang said.
Nolan added, “From lift to practice, I think you can see the improvement in everything we do. We want to be there, and we actually enjoy it, and we’re just going to go up from here.”
The captains have developed many goals for this season already, individually and as a team. With the season approaching quicker than they thought, this year the women plan to give it their all, and leave it all on the field.
“A personal goal of mine is to be a leader out on the field, and instill confidence in my teammates because we have so much potential. That contributes into our team goal– I’d say working together, and all of us contributing together to the greater success of our team, because we know that we can do it and we have so much to accomplish. I really want our team to see that this year.” Hodapp said.
“With this being my last year playing here,” Nolan said, “I want to have as much fun as I can and give it my all. As a team, I also want the entire team to give it everything they have because if we do, we can reach a high potential. I really want to see this team go far.”
For these three girls, lacrosse has played an important role in their lives, on and off the field. From instilling respect, confidence, determination, and perseverance in each and every one of them, the girls plan to show the MAAC what they’ve been training so hard for each and every day. As captains, they’re going to use everything that McConnell and the rest of the coaching staff has given them, and give it their all.
“Lacrosse has definitely taught me a lot in my life, on and off the field. I’ve created so many relationships, especially here at Manhattan, that will last a lifetime. It teaches me time management skills which will help me further in life. You work hard towards a goal and it gives you a really good outlook on life. And, lacrosse is also an outlet. It’s nice to step onto the field with your best friends and forget about school and all the worries you have in your life. It’s a nice two hour break from reality.” Hodapp said.
The women’s lacrosse team will officially begin their season on Saturday, February 18th here in Riverdale, NY, at 3:00 P.M. versus Army West Point.