The Importance of Mentors

By Joe Caruso, Head Coach, Albertus Magnus College  @AMCAthletics

I just wanted to ring in the New Year with my story and showing my thanks to my mentors, the people that got me into coaching girl’s/women’s lacrosse and all the people that have helped me along the way.

    Photo courtesy of Albertus Magnus Athletics.

My story is a typical one. A dad of four kids, my oldest a son, then three daughters following my son. I coached little league, starting with tee-ball. After all I was a baseball guy and still playing myself when my son started playing. So, it seemed natural.

When my girls started playing sports, the number of willing and able coaches was not there, so I volunteered to coach every sport my girls played (lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, basketball, softball) Whatever it was, I coached it, except cheerleading, which my oldest did until high school.

So, to my story. The year was 1999, my son was a senior in high school, my oldest daughter was a freshman and my middle one was playing softball and soccer and her best friend talked her into playing lacrosse that spring. Yay, and my youngest was already playing field hockey and when she found out her sister was playing lacrosse, she wanted to play also. So, I signed them both up.

So, to make a long story short, I go to her first game and I’m there with all the other soccer moms and Dads and I’m about to sit in my fold out chair, and from across the field I hear my friend Cori Distler, the founder and coach of the youth league (Relax) in our town and for whom my daughter is playing, call to me. I say to the mom that is sitting next to me, “Cori is going to ask me to ref this game, but I know nothing about girl’s lacrosse.”

So I head over to midfield to meet Cori and she says to me as she is putting her arm around me, “Hey Joe, buddy, I need a favor,” and before she could finish that sentence I said ”Cori, I can’t ref this game. I know nothing about girl’s lacrosse.” Then she says, “I don’t want you to ref, I want you to coach.” After looking at the side line and seeing 36, 7th and 8th grade girls standing there, I looked at her and said, “are you out of your freaking mind?”

Well, that was the beginning of my girl’s/women’s lacrosse coaching career. That spring and summer, I followed Cori around like a puppy. I helped her coach the 5th-6th grade Relax team, the 7th-8th Relax team and the 7th-8th Nutmeg Games team and the Barlow high school team where she was also the head coach.

This is where the love for the game of women’s lacrosse all started. Cori not only took me under her wing, but she introduced me to so many people that first year: Bonnie Rosen, Anne Phillips, Dee Stephan, Amanda O’Leary, Holly Wheeler, and countless others.

Over the next few years I would meet Bill Tierney, Mike Waldvogel, Laura Field, Tonya Kotowicz, Alice Lee, Kate Livesay, Christine Hutchinson, Kate Backman, Sarah Berheide-Lamphier and Jen Burrows. And I would get an opportunity to work for Jen Fallon at the University of New Haven, who taught me more then she knows.

Other than Cori, Sarah Lamphier, Jen Burrows, and Jen Fallon had the biggest influences on me and they are the biggest reason why I’m now coaching in college. They all spent time with me when I asked them to meet with me to ask what it would take for me to coach in college, because I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I know I got a bit of a late start at coaching at the college level and that I never played lacrosse, but I love this game more than life itself!! I’m always trying to learn get better at coaching every day.

That’s why I joined the IWLCA, to meet more people that love this game like I do and to learn from the best.

To all the people that have helped me, joined me and that have befriended me along the way, THANK YOU!!

And to my youngest daughter, who is still my assistant coach(!!), I love you and thank you also.

Happy New Year, and I wish you all have great seasons.

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