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The huddle

September 12, 2018 Samantha Nemirov

University of Colorado Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Advice

Ann Elliott continues to make history. As a player and coach at Northwestern, she earned six NCAA national championships before being hired as head coach at Colorado. Now in her 5th year of coaching, Coach Elliott has led her team to two NCAA tournaments and managed to be ranked fourth in all three major polls. The Colorado team has earned national news throughout the years, despite being a very young program. Elliott has now earned two IWLCA Midwest/West Region Coach of the Year, MPSF Coach of the Year, and PAC-12 Coach of the Year. Great advice from a great coach!

LRT Sports: What would be your main advice for girls looking to play DI lacrosse?

Coach Elliott: My best advice is to be proactive in the process and make sure you take your time to get to know the Universities and the programs you are looking at. In doing that, make sure you are going on your own timeline and doing what is best for YOU. It is easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and feel pressured, but this is a big decision and it is important that you do what is best for you and follow your own timeline no matter how short or long it is.

LRT Sports: What is the best way to get on coaches radar?

Coach Elliott: Camps and clinics are always a great way to get on coaches radar. This is a time that we can interact with each other, players can learn how we coach and we can learn how they learn. In a camp or clinic environment we also get to spend more time coaching and watching than in a tournament setting. It really allows us to get to know the player. 

LRT Sports: What role does social media play in the recruiting process, and what are some red flags?

Coach Elliott: As in most things today, social media plays a large role in recruiting. On the Universities side we are always using social media to promote our program. It’s a huge way to pass along information to recruits as well as fans, etc. In addition, as coaches we know social media is a big part of the lives of recruits today. It is a medium for us to learn about recruits and build relationships/show interest. With that, it is important recruits know that their social media is their brand and coaches pay attention to it. Hopefully, everyone uses it to build a positive image but there are always times where some of the things posted, whether it be by them or friends, isn’t something that fits our brand as a program. And these things could stem from alcohol or drug usage, to inappropriate language, etc.

LRT Sports: Any advice on how to make the most of college visits?

Coach Elliott: I would say be prepared. Be prepared with questions for the players and coaches, and don’t be afraid to ask them. Make sure you are honest as well in the answers you are giving. At the end of the day everyone wants to find the best fit and to do that it is important to answer questions honestly and ask the questions you have. Outside of that, I’d suggest making sure that during your visit you immerse yourself in that University and town, make sure you get a feel for everything – academics, student life, the community, the coaches, etc. 

LRT Sports: What is your mission here as head coach at CU?

Coach Elliott: I came to CU six years ago to build the lacrosse program from the ground up. Obviously my goal has always been to build an elite, championship program and compete at the highest level for both conference and national championships. However, when asked how I would judge success it is simple, it comes down to the student athlete experience. My goal is to mentor our players, provide them with resources they need and challenge them to be their best in all they do. If at the end of the day, my players graduate as confident individuals who feel they can achieve anything they want to and feel connected to our program for years to come, then I believe we have been successful. 

LRT Sports: What are a few ways high school lacrosse players can prepare for the college level?

Coach Elliott: I think one of the biggest things is just to keep challenging yourself to be better. In high school, division one players are usually the best on their team. In college everyone is that person. The level is different in terms of speed and physical play, but I think one of best things you can do in high school is just keep pushing yourself and never be satisfied with where you are. 

LRT Sports: Entering your 6th year as head coach of a new program, what changes have you seen throughout the years as far as team culture and level of play?

Coach Elliott: There have been a lot of changes but I believe our team culture is something we have established from close to the beginning of the program. This was and still is the most important thing to me. It is imperative that our team has a strong culture, centered on shared values. I believe that is the key to building a championship program. Obviously we have built different traditions along the way and each class has brought their own uniqueness to our program, which makes us who we are but our values have always remained the foundation of our culture and program. I guess the biggest difference from the first year to now is that culture is more widely understood and we now have upperclassman that are leading and sharing that with underclassman. In my first and second year even, everything was new and our staff really had to be the leaders. 

In terms of play, I think we continue to get better every year. As our program has become more established it has changed our recruiting and allowed us to compete at a higher level in recruiting. On the field, we continue to challenge ourselves every day to get better and we have. We have been able to build a schedule that allows us to play some of the top teams in the country, which has really helped us grow and improve as a team. We didn’t have that early on and it is really exciting that we do now. 

LRT Sports: Because lacrosse is northeast dominated, what challenges do you face trying to bring girls out west to Colorado?

Coach Elliott: Initially, the big challenge was getting people to know Colorado had a program and breaking the stigma that it’s cold and snowy. Our winters are really not bad and our weather is pretty amazing year round, while still allowing for the beauty of four seasons. Over the last few years, I think more people now know about Colorado but the distance hasn’t changed. For some players distance isn’t an issue but for some and some parents, the distance is definitely a factor and sometimes just a factor in getting them to visit. But at the end of the day, one thing that makes Colorado great is that it is a beautiful place to live so usually if we can get players out here to see that we have a chance. 

LRT Sports: What is your craziest lacrosse memory, as a coach or a player?

Coach Elliott: That is a tough one. I have a lot of memories and great moments. I think one of the crazier games I have been apart of was in our second year against Michigan. We were playing in the Big House and not playing well. We were down by 5 goals towards end of the second half. Somehow we got it to 3 goals with like a minute and a half left. Then things started going our way and we tied the game up and went to overtime. We would win in sudden victory overtime. I remember being on sideline and we tried to make small changes to help us out but at end of the day the players on field just have to do it. I think I told team after the game that they played well for 10 minutes, which I do stand by today haha. You can never count this team out. That was a fun game to coach and I was proud we never gave up. It was similar to our game verse Stanford in 2018 when we were losing 12-5 and came back to win, but we had much more time in that game than in Michigan. 

 

For more information on the team and coach: https://cubuffs.com/roster.aspx?roster=427&path=wlax

 

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