Looking toward the future, this past July the Yale women’s lacrosse team named new head coach Erica LaGrow to succeed former head coach Anne Phillips as the leader of the program. LaGrow, a former member of the U.S. Women’s National Team and the assistant coach at Florida for the past seven years, brings high-level experience to the coaching staff. A few months away from the Elis’ season opener this spring, the News sat down with LaGrow to discuss her hopes for transforming Yale’s program into one that can take on top competition in the Ivy League and beyond.
Q How do you think your past experience, both as a former U.S. Women’s National Team member and as an assistant coach for the successful Florida program, will benefit Yale’s team?
A With my experience as a coach and National Team player, I’ve seen the game played at the highest level and have a good sense of where the direction of the sport is going after coaching at Florida. At Florida, we emphasized the fundamentals. We started the program from the ground up. That’s my on-the-field coaching philosophy: to start with the basics and the fundamentals and go from there. That’s what I bring from my past experience.
Q Why did you choose to come to Yale?
A This position is a dream come true. Mandee [O’Leary, former Yale head coach and current Florida head coach] spoke about Yale a lot and how much she loved it. When the position became available, I had to go for it. Yale has so much to offer to student-athletes … It’s an exciting opportunity to work with ambitious, high-achieving young women.
Q What challenges do you foresee heading into the spring season?
A Honestly, it’s just getting on the same page as the players and teaching different offensive sets and defensive motions … mostly things such as the language we use on the field [and] terminology.
Q How do you intend to combat the loss of graduated key players, including the team’s top three point-earners?
A The seniors last year were phenomenal, [but] we have a talented group … The freshmen that came in this year are strong. We definitely tried to fill [the graduated seniors’] shoes. As a staff, we’re really happy with this team. I really like our players, I like this group. We set expectations really high for them. They see it as a challenge and they’re willing to step up to that challenge. That’s why we’re so happy with this group.
Q Do you have significant changes to the program in mind?
A I’m not sure what they had in the past. The style I have is very fast and very competitive. We do a lot of fundamentals at a fast pace. Practice moves very quickly, and I hope that will translate into the games and help us to do the little things well. Hopefully we can put all of that together and make some big plans on the field.
Q What are you looking forward to for the 2016 season?
A I feel very fortunate. We have a great group of young women. They are a great foundation for building a really competitive program and having a competitive season. We’re looking to build on the fundamentals. The biggest thing for me is that we’ve got to get better each day. That’s first and foremost.
Q What do you see as the future of the Yale women’s lacrosse program?
A I think we want to be as deadly as any team in the country. We want to be playing with the best of the best [and] competing on the national level. Yale has the ability to attract a lot of recruits. You get a world-class education and a world-class experience here. What an opportunity it is to come to this university and to compete on the lacrosse team. It’s wonderful to be at a place like Yale. We’re hoping to bring in a lot of strong recruits. [Young players] are going to be the group that’s responsible for building a program of high expectations for women’s lacrosse.