Three Questions for Karen Henning

[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 Karen Henning, Head Coach, Colby College @colbywlax

1 – Name an accomplishment in your coaching career that you are most proud of and why:

As a college coach, I am so blessed work with young people who are at a pivotal point in their lives. 18 to 23-year old young women are trying to figure out exactly who they are and what they want to become. For many of them, they are excited to try new things, but it can be a scary time as well. My goal through lacrosse is to show them that passion and energy is far greater than any fear they might have. I want them in all aspects of their lives to see their passion, live their passion and have the confidence to not let their fear stop them.

Photo courtesy of Sally Bowen Photography

When asked what I am most proud of in my coaching career, I struggle to identify one thing. What I am most proud of is every opportunity I have had to show a young woman that they are capable of more than they thought possible. I am proud of those players who never thought they could complete the fitness test and did. I am proud of the player who sacrificed their blood, sweat, and tears for a goal they were never guaranteed to accomplish. I am proud of the players who gave everything they could and now have no regrets. I am proud of every player on the bench who wanted to be on the field, worked hard to be on the field, cheered for their teammates, and managed to put their own feelings aside for the greater good when they didn’t get into the game. So when asked what I am most proud of, I would say, I am most proud of every single woman I have had the opportunity to coach who has grown in confidence because they challenged themselves, and went on to challenge themselves off the lacrosse field to find the best of themselves in all aspects of their lives.

2 – What traits do you see in student-athletes that you think most accurately predict success after college?

In my opinion, student-athletes are in a unique situation because they are being challenged in the classroom and on the field. They are learning to deal with a variety of people, balancing multiple demands on their time, and performing in pressure situations. Those student-athletes who have embraced these challenges are extremely prepared for the future. I think the three traits that not only predict success after college, but also success during college are:

  1. Passion – Student-athletes who follow their passion, who know who they are and are comfortable with who they are, will live a fulfilling successful life. Passion allows you to focus on what you want to accomplish with everything you have. When your heart leads you, you will do what you love and love what you do. It will give you purpose, and having purpose is a key to success.
  2. Determination – Student-athletes who want something bad enough are willing to work tirelessly to get it. Through sport, you often learn that nothing will be handed to you and if you want it, you are going to have to earn it. Wanting it will never be enough, wanting it and having the determination to work for it are what drives results.
  3. Being a resilient optimist – Passionate and determined people will face adversity. Adversity is often when people quit. However, embracing the challenges, seeing the obstacles, and finding solutions are key. Those student-athletes who never give up, who are never defeated, always see the light. They know how to dig deeper and find a way over, under, around, or through whatever obstacle may lie in their way. A resilient optimist gains confidence through adversity, and it will often lead to success.

3 – If you could take your team on a trip that did not involve playing lacrosse, where would you take them and what would you do on the trip?

If I could take the team on a trip that did not involve lacrosse, I would take them to the ocean to see the sunrise and a mountain to see the sun set. As the sun rises, we would look to the horizon and be thankful for another day. We would feel the energy created by the sun, and feel empowered for another day. After watching the sun rise we would feast on a tasty breakfast that would fuel us for our climb to the top of the mountain. Throughout our journey we would conquer fears together, overcome obstacles together, breathe in the fresh air, and smile a lot along the way. We would embrace each stretch of the trip and as we reached the peak, we would celebrate our journey together by pausing and watching the sun set. We would then sit in peace, reflecting on all we shared that day. This would be a perfect trip with our team.

3 thoughts on “Three Questions for Karen Henning

  1. I was very fortunate to have the chance to be one of her assistant coaches 15 years ago. One of the best most natural leaders I’ve ever met and she would excel at anything she wanted to


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