Coaching Education Helps One Program Continue to Thrive
By Brian Logue
The Hereford High School lacrosse program is one of the most dominant public school programs in Maryland. The boys and girls have combined to win 12 state championships, and they’ve reached at least the semifinal round of the state tournament another six times.
It’s no coincidence that a strong rec lacrosse program has helped to feed the high school program over the years. And the cycle is becoming complete with the high school alumni coming back to the rec program.
“We’re noticing a lot of the kids that came through rec, went to the high school, went to college are coming back and are giving back to the kids,” said Theresa Menusan, co-commissioner of Hereford Lacrosse. “They want to stay involved, they want to see the younger generation be successful.”
So, how do experienced players become effective coaches?
The curriculum from the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program is one of the tools that Hereford Lacrosse is providing to those alumni to help them achieve success. Hereford, one of the pilot leagues for the US Lacrosse Gold Stick Program, hosted US Lacrosse’s first CEP instructional clinic of the season this year, and has hosted several clinics over the years.
Menusan, herself a Hereford alum who went on to play at Towson University, said that simple things, such as more consistent terminology being used throughout the program, help kids understand and retain information from year to year and coach to coach. The guidance from the Positive Coaching Alliance embedded into the US Lacrosse course helps coaches understand how and why to make sure that winning isn’t their only focus.
Hereford’s investment in coaching education is a way to ensure that it’s providing everything its players need to stay at home and develop.
“With club sports kind of taking away from rec programs, we’re really trying to make sure we stay highly qualified and have the great coaches, because that’s what some club teams advertise,” said Menusan. “We feel like we can give you that in the rec program.”
Kenny Snyder, a longtime trainer in the US Lacrosse CEP program, was one of the clinicians at the Hereford clinic. As he frequently sees in more developed areas, one of the big things is getting people that have played the game for years to take a step back and think about how they break down and teach the basic fundamentals to beginning players.
But the CEP program is not just for beginning coaches.
“The biggest improvement is the evolution of Levels 2 and 3,” said Snyder, also the head coach at Penn Manor (Pa.) High School. “We’ve refined Level 1 and that’s the foundation, but Level 2 and Level 3 is a step forward. We’re getting into tactics, reinforcing the base level, and it’s just going to continue to get better.”
US Lacrosse has nearly 40 CEP clinics in a dozen states scheduled through January and more will be added in the coming months. The instructional clinics, one of the required components to becoming a US Lacrosse certified coach, are a critical supplement to the organization’s numerous online offerings.
“It puts you in a learning environment that’s conducive to you retaining the information,” said Snyder.
And perhaps an unexpected benefit is the ability to share ideas and address concerns with peers. During the Hereford clinic, on numerous occasions clinic participants offered ideas with each other about how they work with their teams.
“We encourage it,” said Snyder. “The best CEP trainers are the ones that encourage those conversations to happen.”
Snyder himself said he takes away something new from almost every clinic he conducts. A girls’ coach for Portland, Ore., told him how her program uses hubcaps as targets in the goal. Another coach uses a candy-filled piñata strung near the offside hip of the goalie as an incentive for players to work on shooting location and power. And that’s one of the tenets of the program – never stop learning.
“I’m sitting at a table with a bunch of us that played lacrosse,” said Menusan during a break in the Hereford clinic. “Some were DI, some were DIII, but we’re joking how the game has changed so much. Just because I may have been a good lacrosse player at one point, doesn’t mean I know how to coach the game the way it’s played today.”
US Lacrosse offers numerous tools through its Coaching Education Program. These tools include online courses, instruction books, Mobile Coach and more. Click the button below to learn more.