Game Plan Ready to Go for Girls' Lacrosse

Published in the March 19, 2008 issue of Stow Independent

By Jordana Bieze Foster

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With four state championships and 13 league titles on her resume, new Nashoba Regional girls' lacrosse head coach Laurie Griffin knows a thing or two about putting together a successful game plan. But what's just as important, she says, is that she's also a teacher.

“There's always teaching, especially when it comes to skills,” said Griffin, who has taught physical education for all of the 20-plus years that she's been a coach. “Lacrosse is unique in that regard. Even the U.S. teams spend a lot of time on the basics.”

Solid fundamentals are particularly key when starting a varsity program from scratch, as will be the case at Nashoba this season. It's the same approach Griffin used when launching Algonquin's girls' varsity lacrosse program a decade ago—a program that went on to win six league titles and two sectional championships in the eight years she was there.

“Being able to keep the ball in the lacrosse stick is really important. You need to be disciplined enough and skilled enough to be able to maneuver through the defense and set up a play and not have to worry about dropping the ball,” Griffin said. “Once the girls have that confidence, then like in any sport they can be more strategic, seeing the field and where their teammates are. The flow of the game is affected in a positive way as well.”

Prior to her stint at Algonquin, Griffin coached the girls' lacrosse team at her alma mater of Wayland High for 13 years, compiling a record of 158-40-7. Her Wayland teams won seven league titles and reached six state championship finals, winning four times.

But Griffin is quick to point out that a coach is only one element in the formula for success. That's why a key component of her coaching philosophy involves cultivating a sense of dedication and teamwork in the athletes themselves.

“Really what makes any program strong is that you have to have athletes to work with who are committed to wanting to do well. Obviously offensive and defensive strategies play a role as well, but you have to have that first part in any sport,” she said. “We try to talk about things as a team, how we want to focus. That's not just on the field but in activities off the field as well, which I believe can bring a team closer so they're willing to work hard together.”

The fact that 55 girls will be trying out for the team this week—a reflection of the rapid growth of youth programs in the district—suggests that the fledgling Chieftains won't be lacking enthusiasm. Many of the hopefuls, including Stow juniors Trisha Starkey, Marissa Goodue, Rebecca Krantz, Meghan Stafford and Brie Trudeau, played last year for the junior varsity team. Most, however, have more experience in other sports than in lacrosse—which is just fine with Griffin.

“That's a real plus,” she said. “I believe the more well rounded an athlete is, if they have experience in many different sports, it makes them a better player because they can draw from those experiences. In the same way, it's exciting when you come back after a summer and you know the girls have gone to camps or clinics. No one coach knows everything, so for them to be able to pick up things from other coaches and bring them to your program, it just makes you that much richer in talent and understanding.”

Though Griffin's immediate task will be to select the varsity and JV teams, the first match of the season will be right around the corner, on April 3 at St. Peter-Marian (weather permitting, that is—spring sports enthusiasts will recall that last year's stormy April wreaked havoc on teams' scheduling). And the Chieftains' first home match will likely also be their toughest, against defending Division 1 Central champion Shrewsbury.

But that, too, is part of Griffin's plan.

“I like having competition with the strong teams, especially for a new program,” she said. “Even if a team is running circles around you, you experience the pace and flow of good lacrosse, so they'll know what they have to aspire to. Shrewsbury is our third game, and could end up being our first game depending on the weather. So right away, we'll have a real sense of the pace of the game.”

Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239