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Coach U Blog: Up Close and PERSONAL - USC vs. Duke

Saturday night Orange County hosted a big women's lacrosse game that highlighted the speed and skill of women's lacrosse. For me, it was a little personal! I was able to see several of my alums, parents and players associated with my youth and high school development teams. Also, I was able to spend some time post game with friend, mentor and colleague Kerstin Kimel, Duke's Head Coach. I was Kerstin's assistant coach at Duke for two years. We shared a Final 4 appearance in Duke's 3rd year of the program, we played on Team USA and at Maryland together. Last year Kerstin, mother of 3 great kids, announced her battle with breast cancer and while getting chemotherapy, she led her team to the Final Four. Although they lost in the National Semifinal to Carolina, I'm thrilled to say that Kerstin is currently wining the battle with breast cancer. #strength #courage

I am VERY proud of several of my alums from Bay Area Wave girl's lacrosse club, 1 on 1 lessons, clinics and camps. USC Attackers Kylie Drexel (#23) and Micaela Michael (#2), and defender Nina Kelty (#47).

Nina...why is she first? Defenders are usually last in line for credit with few stats and never the glory! Saturday night Nina never came off the field, used her speed to stop fast breaks and was a very active ball handler in her teams' 80% clear average. Nina was a big soccer player in HS, with speed and toughness. At 5'5" she packs a punch but was always catching up in lacrosse. She did the dance of club lax and soccer; soccer usually the priority because she wasn't introduced to lax until later. But with lots of catch up work on her stick skills, defensive positioning and IQ, her athleticism and positive bubbly personality got her a shot in then new program USC (more on that later but glad that she didn't have the Math scores to follow the then dream of Cornell :-)

Kylie and Micaela teamed up to score over half of their teams' goals for the night. Kylie stepped up big time with 4 goals, 1 assist. She's perfecting the split dodge. She's P90X meets Michael Jackson - crazy fast feet with great strength and toughness. And yes, she transformed her body in high school by dedicating her summer to P90X and eating better - boom! Kylie has battled through a lot, recently losing her Dad. She has a ton of heart and soul. Out going and loves the game. She was always first to practice to greet everyone with a hug and last to leave practice - always getting in extra looks on goal with a new shot that we just learned. P.S. she drove 2 hours to practice and 2 hours back home, totaling approx. 200 miles roundtrip for club training and clinics. Always so much fun to work with 1 on 1. ...I root for this kid.

Micaela, had 2 goals off of 8m shots, while being face guarded, and grabbed 7 of USC's 9 draw controls as the center. She was USC's first All American last season and also named MPSF Player of the Year. Two ACL's later she's one of the nations top players and a USA Team hopeful. She first tore her ACL at club practice with no contact, just a little side step on a 1v1. She worked very hard and very smart to come back stronger than ever, and used the time to craft a lot of her stick work and ability on the draw. I give her and her parents Art and Cindy a lot of credit for handling the early recruiting process. We had lots of recruiting talks and heart-to-hearts. First time experience for parents with a very talented daughter deciding where to go to college before she could even learn to drive...trips to L.A, facing unknowns, lots of emotion. They relied a lot on the vision and emotion of just a 15 year old.

Gabbi Klein (#10, Midfield) was a member of the first Team NorCal regional team that I took to the U15 USLacrosse National Championship in Baltimore. Liz Schaeffer (#11,GK) and Maggie Mawhinney (#22, Attack) were two kids that I had the pleasure to coach when invited as guests to play tournaments for Wave. Good players can play with anyone and they always meshed well, worked very hard and were excited for their opportunities to be coached and to gain exposure. Lydia Sutton (#20, Midfield) I had the pleasure to meet and share a spot on Team Canada in the last World Cup as I served as an assistant coach. When selected she was the youngest on the team, and helped Team Canada to a historic silver medal finish vs. Team U.S.A.

Future NFL draft pick and USC Wide Receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster was in the first row at the game, next to Mr. & Mrs. Kelty and Grandpa and Grandma. I met him for the first time, introduced by Paige Lin (Nina's good friend and mentor.) Paige was my original Bay Area Wave kid! She went on to coach with our club (coached Nina). Also attended American University, where from humble beginnings as the "recruited GPA booster" kid, she started as a midfielder. No shock to me. I told them - people of the east coast, don't doubt the west coast kid. Damn...Anyway... We've shared a lot of good times over the last 12 years. Now Head Coach at UCLA Lacrosse, Paige stays in good touch with Nina, who has been dating JuJu seriously for a while now. Had to make it real - without lacrosse, no USC. Without having coached Nina into a laxer, no USC. Without USC, no Nina & JuJu. Not asking for future babies named Michele...just sayin'.

Lastly, shout out to all the parents in the stands who hold their breathe and have their hearts sink to their stomachs when they see their kid go down. Watching your daughter take a tough fall jars every bone in the body of a parent, in only the way a parent can understand. My parents used to go through this...Dad secretly worried and prayed; Mom let out the audible "huhhh! and oh my gosh..." Having no control and just watching is tough. Sitting in the stands while your kid wimpers or grabs at a body part - the hardest. A few seconds seems like a lifetime while they are first down, and and eternity before even the trainer gets to them. It's a tough game that your daughter loves to play. She is well trained. Accidents do happen. Injuries and illness are part of the game. Hats off to all the parents there or (maybe worse) watching the live stream. You are not the average fan although you have to sit in the same hard seats as they do. Happy to say that all the parents at the game that I know are positive supportive fans of the game, their team and their opponents' team. #playersplaycoachescoachparentssupport


Kylie Drexel, Michaela Michael, Nina Kelty

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