Three Questions for Jenny Graap

[Editor’s Note: From time to time we will feature a short Q&A with an IWLCA member coach. The format will be one question about lacrosse, one question about life, and one fun question.]

Q&A with Jenny Graap, Head Coach, Cornell University, @CornellWLax

1 – Describe your favorite drill to coach at a camp or clinic?

 I really like coaching uneven situations, and my go to drill would be a 3v2 to goal. Despite the clear advantage for the offense, the defenders and the goalie always seem to step up to the challenge. The creative options for the Player-Up offense are many and the D unit is empowered to play BIG and to play SMART, making it difficult for the attackers to score quickly. The high energy in 3v2 drills brings out the competitive intensity in every athlete and reminds me why I love coaching! 

Photo credit: Sideline Photos/Greg Carroccio
                  Photo credit: Sideline Photos/Greg Carroccio
2 – What makes a student-athlete a “good teammate?”

I believe being a good teammate involves respect, accountability, courage and humility. Respect for yourself, your university, your program, your coaches and your fellow teammates. Accountability for your actions that will reflect on all of those entities. Courage to face the highs and the lows of the season – winning gracefully and losing with dignity. And humility to serve others while striving for shared objectives and keeping the focus on the team’s success over your own individual goals. 

Being a good teammate starts with taking care of yourself – taking care of your health, your academics and your social life so you can be fully present and engaged with your team. At Cornell we strive for a “Team First” attitude where an individual’s needs are secondary to the needs of the squad. Being a good teammate means being honest and willing to deliver a tough message when needed. Sometimes the line between friendship and teammate needs to be clarified because offering a compassionate ear to another’s troubles may not be in the best interest of the team. Friends sympathize and empathize and teammates have to know when they can challenge each other to be stronger. Teammates who hear complaints about “playing time” or “preferential treatment of others” can help to shift the focus to improving skills and being accountable for earning playing time, versus expecting more. Being part of the solution vs part of the problem is a good analogy. A good teammate doesn’t ask what her team can do for her, she asks what she can do for her team.

3 – You’ve just won the big game; describe what’s on the menu for your celebratory dinner. Anything that I don’t have to cook myself!  I’m picturing an exquisite restaurant that somehow isn’t crowded or pretentious. An appetizer salad that has an interesting combination of greens, veggies, fruit and nuts, possibly including a culinary description which the waiter needs to decipher for me, a seafood entrée, preferably Chilean Sea Bass, and a few bites of a decadent chocolate dessert that my husband ordered. He’s a good teammate and likes to share.

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