Everyone’s a Senior: St. Mary’s Lacrosse

Everyone’s a Senior


With a whisper, the Saint Mary’s College Athletic Department announced the “reclassification” of the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse program to a club program following the 2017 season.  The decision, the announcement, and the communication to the community have been unimpressive at best, but this program deserves much more after the blood, sweat, and tears the student-athletes on the teams over the years have put into representing their college.  

This 2017 team is resilient in a way that the first Saint Mary’s Lacrosse teams had to be, and everyone should know what this program has been about from the very beginning.  This class of 2017 is a special group that has been through a great deal of adversity in their four years, including 3 coaching changes, reduced scholarships, and a number of issues both on and off the field.  Now their teammates join them as honorary seniors in their final three games, as many of them are now playing their final season of college sports.  

In our Tenacity programs, we talk to the girls about doing their best when no one’s watching- how they train, how they study, how to represent themselves, and how they become a champion.  The 2017 Gaels have often acted more like adults than those who were meant to serve and protect them, and one of the most amazing things to watch has been the way these young women have taken care of each other and remained staunchly loyal to the school.  They have figured out how to separate the injustices they may feel have been done, from their whole experience at the school- and a number of the girls may actually stay to finish their careers as Gaels.  Hopefully ALL of them will have immediate opportunities to find new homes as varsity student-athletes at other institutions if they so choose, but the bond that this year’s team will have- this team of 20 seniors- will be something that lasts them a lifetime.  

There are so many incredible individuals who have been involved in Saint Mary’s Lacrosse who have also been driving forces in the growth of the sport in northern California, including women like Jill Malko, Jenn Morris, Diane Whipple, and Amy Harms.  

In August of 1999, the school announced the elevation of the team from club to varsity status and in articles at the time, the hard work of the athletes is celebrated, “The team has worked very hard for this opportunity and we are very pleased to have the chance to compete at the Division I level,” said club head coach Jennifer Morris. (smcgaels.com, release 8/23/1999)

In January of 2001, the Gaels Head Coach at the time, Dianne Whipple, was killed tragically, and the northern California lacrosse community pulled together to take care of the young women on the team then too.  The alumni from this program- from that era through today- have continued to honor Diane’s memory by coaching, officiating, and contributing to youth and high school lacrosse, but most importantly, they’ve stayed connected with each other.  

I hope that the legacy lives on, and that the current team can once again draw strength from their lacrosse community.  Nothing can take from them the gifts sports and their teammates have given them, because these things last a lifetime.  

So now everyone’s a senior… so let’s celebrate this amazing group of young women. SHOW UP AND CHEER THEM ON this Saturday on Senior Night at 5pm!  2017 schedule

From the Archives:

Varsity Announcement

Diane Whipple hiring

Diane Whipple Death

First Win of 2017

Written By Theresa Sherry
April 12th, 2017

Culture is Key: Best Kept Secret in Division I Lacrosse

Culture is Key

The Golden Eagles of Marquette University might be the best kept secret in Division I Women’s Lacrosse.  This program has the best team culture I have seen, and with 3 close losses, their win/loss record is just 4-7, so the team is flying under the radar.  What I saw on the field the other day though was a hard-working, aggressive and sharply executing team.  The chemistry on the field has to be due to what I was lucky enough to observe this weekend.  The staff for this team- from managers to athletic trainers, from conditioning coaches to event staff- everyone was extremely enthusiastic, pumped for game day, sincerely engaged in pre-game activities, supportive pre and post-game, and the players didn’t stop cheering from whistle to whistle.  

The things that stood out to me about this great team culture could fall into these 3 categories for me: Trust, Focus, and Contagious Positivity

Trust- Head Coach Meredith Black clearly had a good game plan, and on gameday she did what all good coaches do- LET GO.  She let everyone do their job-especially the players- and this was key because I’ve always believed the players win the games and any control we have as coaches is done long before the first draw.  Coach Black gave her assistants a voice pre-game, she had a 10-year old girl give a pre-game speech, and her players were empowered to do their own pre-game songs/dances/speeches and prep.  There was strength and calm in that trust, which I think is great for young women who have a tendency towards anxiety under pressure.   This has to be good for players learning to handle everything they face as collegiate athletes.  

Focus-  There were a lot of distractions (or potential distractions) on game day, between a post-game clinic, a fundraiser that evening, a couple guests hanging around pre-game activities, and a parent weekend which brought lots of family and friends to campus.  The team and coaches did a great job focusing on what they needed to- one thing at a time- and they won each small moment before, during, and after the game.  I think the attention to detail in preparation for the day was crucial, so all program participants did a great job working as a team to have things go off without a hitch like that!

Contagious Positivity- EVERYONE had a smile on their face all day!  Players introduced themselves to anyone around the program they didn’t’ know, they engaged with each other in a happy/goofy (but not obnoxious) way, and I didn’t notice much in the way of self-centered behavior.  Usually you can tell who doesn’t get playing time, who is injured, and who is in their own head.  I am sure some of that exists, but it was refreshing to see only positivity, and I think it totally boosted the team’s performance.  There is no need to be “Polyanna-ish,” but I do think enthusiasm is contagious, and it can be the X-factor in performance, AND more importantly, in everyone’s overall experience.  If those of us think about the memories we had as student-athletes, it’s about the connection with our teammates and the positive experiences on and off the field, more than the wins and losses.  

I think every coach and administrator can take a lesson from Marquette.  And high school prospects- YOU should be making team chemistry and program culture a MAJOR factor in your decision.  You aren’t always going to be able to control things like playing time, wins and losses, and injuries- so it makes a big difference if you like the environment you are in for so many hours of your college life.  Start with the alma mater of Dwayne Wade, Chris Farley, and Doc Rivers.  Start with Marquette…


Written By: Theresa Sherry
April 4th, 2017

Tenacity Staff: Being a Presence (part 3)

The craziness of the spring season is here, and the Tenacity staff is somewhere every day of the week coaching at youth practices, high school practices, watching current players in their games, and watching alumni on their college teams!  I am often overwhelmed by how much there is to do in a day as we try to prepare for the summer practices, camps, tournaments AND try to be a presence in the girls’ lives during the spring seasons!  But the interaction with the girls is the fun part, and while giving our coaches’ jobs context and meaning, I also think it’s the consistent presence- POSITIVE presence- that makes the difference for the players on a daily basis.  I have been very inspired recently watching coaches and Tenacity staff members demonstrate PRESENCE in many ways!

As my journey on the east coast continues and I add trains and cars to plane rides across the country, I have been able to watch more college lacrosse, see more Tenacity alumni, and meet with coaches who have given us tons of material to bring back to our programs.  Our staff in California, Texas and Oregon are working equally hard, possibly driving almost as much as I have been as they continue working with the youth and high school programs in each of the areas we call “Tenacity Regions.”  The next three Tenacity folks I want to highlight today are more members of the amazing team of people we have working with and for the next generation of girl’s lacrosse players…

TAYLOR DONAHUE played for THE Ohio State University where she was a standout defender and Physical Geography Major, which is in the Environmental Studies field.  Taylor lives in the San Francisco Bay Area but has been running our Tenacity Sacramento region since she moved here from New Jersey, so her PRESENCE is in many places.  Taylor has tenacity and toughness- the things I think coaches are constantly looking for in prospects, and trying to teach their current players on a daily basis.  But she’s also figured out how to show care for her players that balances the tough things she demands from them.  Coaches and players in Davis, Sacramento, El Dorado Hills, Granite Bay, Pleasanton, and Danville have gotten to work with Taylor in the few short months that she’s been in California- lucky them!  Taylor’s FOCUS, and precociousness have enabled her to become a major contributor in the Tenacity business organization and we can’t wait to see what she does next!

We have an Irish lass from upstate New York named… MIKEY MEAGHER.  Mikey’s presence has been all positive since she joined Tenacity in January, and that’s significant since she came from a place that is actually warmer than the Bay Area this time of year- Florida!  Mikey has been the sunshine for our office and on the field with players amidst all the rain, and the goalies are especially lucky to have a former Final Four goal keeper in their midst.  Mikey spent time coaching at the collegiate level as an Assistant Coach for Jacksonville University which gave her an understanding of college athletics on the other side after being a recruit and player herself for the University of Florida.  Mikey has had a presence in the East Bay and North Bay this fall, and she’s also doing some appearances in San Francisco- all in all, covering practices and clinics for Novato, Ross Valley, Scorpion, Pride, Skyline, Lamorinda and a number of high schools in each of those areas too!  

KRISTIN MARCHESE joined Tenacity Houston as a coach a couple of years ago, and the full time staff this past summer after working at the Village School.  Kristin played for the club lacrosse team at the University of South Carolina.  She then spent time coaching at NCAA Division II program Newberry College, while also directing the Intramural Sports programs for the whole school.  During the spring, she’s the Head Coach of the Lamar High School team in Houston, Texas and she directs our Tenacity Select Team programs, camps, and events in the “off season.”  Kristin also has a presence with youth programs SBMSA and HYLAX, so it might start to feel like she is EVERYWHERE in our Houston region!  Her power word is INTENSITY, and she brings this to every practice, meeting, and event that she does in a very relatable way for the girls.  Kristin’s commitment to fitness and competition outside of her Tenacity job makes her a great role model for every girl who comes through our program, and it has been awesome to see how she demonstrates the “way of Tenacity” 24/7.


Theresa Sherry, CEO & Founder
March 16th, 2017



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Be Ready for Your Moment

Be ready for your moment

Maybe you are a freshman in high school waiting to get called off the bench.

Maybe you are a college player working your way back from an injury.

Maybe you are a national team member waiting to get your first international cap.

Maybe you start every game, and play every minute… whatever it is, BE READY FOR YOUR MOMENT.

I went to the USWNT soccer game the other night and was in a stadium with over 20,000 people- TONS of little girls out on a school night to watch TEAM USA.  I got chills when the teams walked onto the fields to songs like Brave (Sara Bareilles) and Fight Song (Rachel Platten).  It made me think about the stories of each of the women on the teams, and where they might be in their athletic careers.  I knew a couple girls were going to get their “first shot” that night, and I also knew there were people like Carly Lloyd out there who had done it many times before.  But in either case, they needed to be ready for their moment- ready to make an impact.  And we all need to be ready for when a moment presents itself, and we have to be ready EVERY day.  France came out hotter than the U.S. and won the game 3-0.  Any individual on the USA team who didn’t bring everything that night was punished by the French players who executed with passion and energy.  It’s not going to be story book if you don’t prepare tenaciously, and play with grit every time you step on the field.  I bet the U.S. players won’t let that happen again for a long time!   

The day after the soccer game, I went to a Georgetown University practice because I’m always trying to pick up new drills and ways to run training sessions (#AskQuestions).  Then my sister and I went to the Maryland/Boston College game (#WatchTheBest) where we got to connect with some of our Tenacity Alumni!  I again noticed some players firing on all cylinders from whistle to whistle, and then other players who had lapses-probably just a lack of mental focus in that moment.  Even in a practice situation, it’s so crucial to go game speed, because you never know when that great practice moment will translate into something you NEED in a game.  And little moments in the games will be the difference between a win and a loss at the end, but you shouldn’t have to check the scoreboard constantly if you are giving everything you have.  

One of my favorite sports memories is with my Princeton team when we played University of Maryland my senior year.  We had been 1-1 with the Terps in the two previous seasons, but we were the defending National Champions two years running, and undefeated going into this game in 2004.  There was a player on the Maryland team who was setting some sort of record with points in consecutive games that spanned three years or something crazy, and I know we had a target on our backs.  We had an awesome game plan that night involving multiple players working to stop their top threat, and EVERYONE won their individual moments throughout the game.  In the final seconds of overtime, we were tied, with the ball, but amidst the chaos, I remember the calm- it’s one of those memories that is slow motion for me.  I remember wanting the ball, driving SO hard but without a plan… seeing 3 defenders closing in… and passing to Tara Hardiman alone by the cage.  Tara finished with fury, and we were all SO PUMPED- that play, and the defensive victories ALL game- were such a great show of team work combined with individual focus and accountability, it may be my favorite!

I got to meet Tara Hardman Chadwick’s first baby last night, and as I head to Princeton today, the memories are rushing back combined with the ones from this week of watching soccer and lacrosse with my former coaches, friends, fellow alumni, and girls I have coached!  I can’t wait to see Tenacity alumni, Bryn Mawr alumni, US Under 19 team alumni, and the awesome coaches out there tomorrow making the most of their moments.  

I know many of our Tenacity Houston girls had games last night, our Tenacity California girls are prepping for Friday night games, or weekend NCJLA games, and our Portland Tenacity girls are gearing up for OGYLA Academy tryouts next Sunday!!  

Wherever you are, and at whatever point in your lacrosse journey, keep working hard one day at a time… work hard WITH A PURPOSE, to be READY FOR YOUR MOMENT!!


Tenacity Staff: Being a Presence (part 2)

“Have success and there will always be fools who say that you have talent.”  I’m pretty sure this is my favorite quote EVER (for anyone who knows me, you know why).  We talk about working smart in our Tenacity programs working HARD is something that sets our most successful players apart, and it certainly sets our coaches apart.  It has been very rewarding to watch players who have some natural gifts, but GREAT work ethic, pass up others who might have started with more “talent.”  A great work ethic is something our Tenacity coaches ALL have in common, and they have figured out that this consistent work towards a common goal is the key to becoming the best.  

I’ve watched DANA KILSBY chip away since she joined The Tenacity Project as a full time employee in the fall of 2015, and she’s now leading a region for us south of San Francisco.  She has developed a presence on the field, and she has truly made her presence felt by being involved with the Redhawks, Firehawks, Coyotes, and many of the high school programs on the Peninsula and in areas surrounding San Jose.   Dana’s super power is PRECISION, and less than two years out of college, she is keeping her colleagues accountable for much of what it takes to manage all the teams, camps, and tournaments we run.  Dana clearly has talent, but her work ethic surpasses most of her peers, which is probably what made her a three time All American at Santa Clara University!

ROB BRAY joined Tenacity this past summer after over a dozen years at the University of Oregon and he continues to make the transition from Division I college coaching to youth and high school with a great deal of intentional effort!  In February, Rob was running the drills at the Tenacity Portland tryouts, and he is certainly making his presence felt all over Oregon with the work he is doing with all of our team and camp programs.  He will also spearhead the OGYLA Academy this spring making a mark on player development at the middle school age groups that should raise the entire level of lacrosse in Portland and surrounding areas.  And for us nationally, Rob is leading Tenacity initiatives to use film for player development, and committees for college counseling.    

One of our earliest coaches in Houston, BETH LESTER, is a force us because she’s continued to evolve as a lacrosse coach as time passes- something that is completely necessary in our ever-changing women’s lacrosse game.  Beth puts the work in to learn from college coaches, watch games at all levels, and she’s a presence at both youth and high school games- especially as the Head Coach at Memorial High School.  A former standout at the University of Massachusetts, and a championship player and coach at the high school level in New Hampshire, Beth is an asset to Houston area lacrosse, The Tenacity Project, and every girl she coaches.  We will be touring New England colleges next week to visit Tenacity Alumni and watch college lacrosse, as Beth spends time on her “spring vacation” to watch the best, work hard, and work smart- just like the best of our players!      

We have a lot of incredible people involved in The Tenacity Project, and I will continue to write about them throughout the next few weeks.  I hope that everyone experiences the positivity that comes from being present and also BEING A PRESENCE for young people, because I continue to love my job more every day watching these coaches and girls BE there for each other.  #PlayWithTenacity #CoachWithTenacity  


Theresa Sherry ,CEO & Founder
March 8th, 2017

Tenacity Staff: Being a Presence

The craziness of the spring season is here, and the Tenacity staff is somewhere every day of the week coaching at youth practices, high school practices, watching current players in their games, and watching alumni on their college teams!  I am often overwhelmed by how much there is to do in a day as we try to prepare for the summer practices, camps, tournaments AND try to be a presence in the girls’ lives during the spring seasons!  But the interaction with the girls is the fun part, and while giving our coaches’ jobs context and meaning, I also think it’s the consistent presence- POSITIVE presence- that makes the difference for the players on a daily basis.  I have been very inspired recently watching coaches and Tenacity staff members demonstrate PRESENCE in many ways!

This past week I saw CHELSEA RANDEL in action at a practice for Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, California.  Immediately when you walk on a field where Chelsea is coaching, you feel her contagious energy and positivity, and I was so excited for all of the girls who get to work with her on a daily basis.  Chelsea is knowledgeable about the game, has played at a high level, and has now coached for years (summers in college, and through working for Tenacity since 2014).  She continues to evolve as the game changes, and she is a great teacher for any age group now, but most of all, she’s an amazing PRESENCE on the field.

LAUREN YEE is a new Tenacity Coach and Program Coordinator working with our groups north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and she has quickly become a consistent and positive presence in the girls’ lives at Drake High School, Ross Valley Grizzlies practices, and Novato Nighthawks clinics.  She is another coach who understands that to make a difference in girls’ lives, it’s about showing up every day, working hard, and leading by example.  We say at Tenacity, that we don’t have to score behind the back, we just have pick up the groundballs and win the draws.  To be that impactful presence, it’s simple- be THERE.  

Yesterday we had our first Elite team meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area to set the tone for the 2017 year, and our coaches were joined by all of our Tenacity staff which was a blast!  MEGAN CARMAZZI, who is our Marketing Manager for The Tenacity Project, led some of our bonding games, and her energy was palpable as she got 40 girls at a time playing games to get them outside their comfort zones.  At our staff retreat this past fall, we assigned everyone a word that represented who they are to our organization and our community, and for Megan, that word was PRESENCE.  She embodies this in many ways, including the way that she is in charge of our brand through social media and marketing.  Megan is a person that everyone wants to be around, and her consistent presence for both the girls and our staff is sort of her super power!

We have a lot of incredible people involved in The Tenacity Project, and I will continue to write about them throughout the next few weeks.  I hope that everyone experiences the positivity that comes from being present and also BEING A PRESENCE for young people, because I continue to love my job more every day watching these coaches and girls BE there for each other.  #PlayWithTenacity #CoachWithTenacity

Theresa Sherry, CEO & Founder
March 7th, 2017

The Way of Tenacity: Setting Goals


“I hear a lot of parents, coaches, and teachers talk about all the pressures that young people are facing today, and there seems to be a reaction in the other direction- as if setting goals might put someone in the position to fail.  But I think it’s important for young people to learn to reach a little and to learn to deal with disappointment when they don’t achieve a goal.”

The Way of Tenacity: Setting Goals

This time of year our Tenacity staff is finalizing plans for the next year’s programs and services, and we hit the pavement giving presentations all over the regions where we operate.  Next week alone, we will be in Oakland, Lafayette, Folsom, and Atherton, California as well as Kingwood, Texas.  We will be talking all about how we are evolving as an organization, and I think this is so key for each of us as coaches, players, and human beings in order to thrive both on and off the field.  

At a very young age my dad taught me about setting goals, and we had these words determination and motivation in our Sherry household vocabulary.  He used to say these were things he learned when he started boxing- which was at 19 years old- and his trainer at the Police Athletic League gym in San Francisco guided him in this.  In a few short years, my dad was a world class Amateur boxer, winning a Golden Glove in San Francisco, and an AAU National Championship in 1975.  He didn’t go from “Zero to Hero” though, and in fact, my mom said she watched him get knocked out cold on their first date (strange choice for a date!).  The point is, my dad set goals, followed a game plan, and was consistent in his pursuit of those goals every day.  And he got up when he was knocked down, time and again.  

It was really important for me to learn about setting goals at a young age, and by that I don’t mean the childhood fantasies of becoming a singer or President of the United States… A goal at 8 years old was to be able to run to the mailbox and back, which was a distance of about two blocks down the street from our row house in Baltimore, Maryland.  

Our Tenacity girls do goal setting at a couple points throughout the year, and I love hearing what some of these are when they share at practice.  It is neat to recognize when a girl is focused on something really specific… or when another one talks about playing lacrosse in college in 7 years… or when another girl is focused on process goals rather than outcomes- those are impressive!  

I hear a lot of parents, coaches, and teachers talk about all the pressures that young people are facing today, and there seems to be a reaction in the other direction- as if setting goals might put someone in the position to fail.  But I think it’s important for young people to learn to reach a little and to learn to deal with disappointment when they don’t achieve a goal.  It wouldn’t have been a terrible thing to walk to the mailbox and back, and later, there were penalty kicks missed, missed layups, national championships lost… and then won.

The Tenacity Project is constantly evolving because we are constantly setting new goals for what we want to do with, and for, our girls and families.  One of the most crucial pieces is the mindset our coaches have about finding new drills, new ways to teach fundamental skills, and new ways to provide feedback to players.    

Tenacity Principle #1 is “Setting Goals,” and I hope our girls do this over and over in life, and I hope they fail because they’ve pushed themselves…and succeed because they’ve failed.  Get up when you get knocked out… and run to that mailbox!  


Written By: Theresa Sherry
December 1st, 2016



Tenacity is Thankful for You!

We have heard from you throughout the year about what Tenacity means to you… this is what our Tenacity staff is thankful for this holiday season, and what it means to #LiveWithTenacity…
I am grateful EVERY day for the wonderful players, parents, siblings, and friends we have in our Tenacity family. It’s a positive, and hard working group that is committed to both the growth of girl’s lacrosse, and the character development that will eventually make these girls game changers in whatever communities they belong to throughout their lives. I am very thankful to those who have made contributions of either their time, money, or effort this year to advance our cause, and make it possible for girls to participate regardless of socio-economic background, logistical challenges, or equipment needs.
I also want to express my gratitude to our coaches, because everything we do comes down to coaches and fields. Our coaches are some of the best in the country in my opinion, with great pedigree, but also the commitment to becoming good teachers (on top of being former players). Every one of our coaches has taken vacation time to go to tournaments, spent days off from their regular work to be at practices, and put extra effort into providing feedback and mentorship to our athletes, and we thank them for it!
To #LiveWithTenacity, to me, is to LIVE FULLY every day. It means doing everything you can to overcome obstacles, to experience everything about life, on a daily basis- the high’s, the lows, the wins, the losses, and everything in between. Some days it may take everything just to get out of bed, it’s ok to use Tenacity for that… and some days, you might have a crazy schedule, and it takes Tenacity to stay focused, and to do a good job in your classes, at your job, AND in your after school/work activities. It often takes Tenacity to eat right, to workout consistently, and to take care of yourself. To me, Living With Tenacity, means embracing the ups and downs, and letting them help you become the person you are meant to become.

Written by Theresa Sherry, CEO The Tenacity Project, Inc.

Liz Hogan: Goalie Lacrosse Icon

“At the end of the day, a couple of things stick out to me.  The first is that you have to want it for yourself.  You can’t want it for the glory.  You’ve got to want it because you love the game and you love being out there; because you want it…”


When I asked Liz Hogan about her new venture, 2Lacrosse, she said she wanted to spread the world of lacrosse to everyone who wanted to learn.  Not just her own team, but her rivals too.  And that mission resonated with me.  Liz is a natural competitor—she’s got the work ethic and the fighting spirit—but when you’re talking to her, it’s obvious that she loves the game for the sake of the game and that she analyzes the game very intelligently, breaking down skills and techniques for both goalies and field players. That approach has worked for her. Liz played on the US National Team for the 2015-2016 season and just this spring, she was drafted by Boston Storm—one of four professional lacrosse leagues in the UWLX.  She started in goal for four years at Syracuse, where she led the Big East conference in save percentage her senior year and was named IWLCA All-America First Team.

When I was younger, I would have been terrified to talk to Liz.  She’s a lacrosse icon!  But Liz is also one of the friendliest, down to earth people, with big, inspiring ideas about the game and growing up, and, as she said about her own former opponents, she’s just a human. Liz has been working with Tenacity to run the Shooters and Stoppers Clinic, which gives our players yet another incredible opportunity to train with the very best.  I got a chance to catch up with Liz while she was grocery shopping—juggling a phone and a cart and trying to check out without losing the phone connection.  That convinced me that she was pretty awesome from the very beginning of our conversation.


Whenever I interview our goalies, I always ask how they became goalies.  It’s not the default position.  You really have to choose it, you know what I mean?

Or it chooses you!


Yes!  So why did you start playing in goal?

Despite living in upstate New York, we didn’t have girls lacrosse when I was a kid, so I played with the boys from 2nd through 6th grade.  Then once I hit 7th grade, I had to play girls lacrosse because it was offered, and I was like, “No way, not a chance.” I thought it was sissy sport, so I decided to play softball, which doesn’t make any sense. I was a catcher. I made Varsity as a freshmen, but after that year I decided to play lacrosse again. I tried defense and I decked the first two girls I came up against.  So the coaches said, “Maybe you should be playing goalie.”  I had a blast doing it and ever since then it’s been really natural for me.  I stuck with it.  Nothing better than stuffing someone on the doorstep.


You recently started up 2Lacrosse.  What kind of training do you put your goalies through?  Do you incorporate what you learned from your foundation in boys lacrosse?

Goalies are a unique position in that no matter if you’re playing boys or girls lacrosse, it’s pretty similar.  The only thing that changes is the stick someone’s using to shoot on you.

That said, I really try to break it down and focus on a specific aspect each week.  So one week we’ll be focused on legs, another week on arms, another on clears.  We’re trying to build up each week so the player doesn’t get overwhelmed by thinking about what she should or shouldn’t be doing.  And then when I’m coaching field players, I definitely have more of a men’s background—just from having male coaches and playing boys lacrosse when I was young.


What are the big challenges for a goalie mentally?  My mom always worried that one of my sisters would become goalie because she didn’t know if we could handle the pressure.  She thought it would be too hard to watch us let goals in.

You know, it’s just like any other skill on the field.  It’s something that you have to practice constantly and I won’t lie, there are some days, even now with the national team, if I let myself I could get into that dark hole. I was once told, put it down the toilet.  It’s done, so you gotta let it go and focus on the next thing.

My advice for both players and coaches is that a lot of coaches tend to overcoach and a lot of players tend to overthink.  I think the best attribute anyone can have is the ability to coach themselves and be self-aware.  That’s a big thing I’m really into recently and something I’ve been reading a lot about. Being self-aware and realizing that it’s not just about whether something is right or wrong. It’s about how it feels. It doesn’t matter if a coach sees that you’re stepping slightly off if you don’t feel it.  You can’t make an adjustment to something you don’t know about. Your job as a coach is more about helping them figure out what they need to do. And as a player, it’s not so much overthinking the results—“I missed that shot”—but thinking about what you did do correctly and what could be better, and what you felt.  It’s more of an analytical approach to the “how” and the “why” rather than focused on results.


It’s understanding that our experience is more subjective than objective. You can only experience the world as you experience it.

Totally. I’ve really bought into this recently and I’ve found a lot of positive results in my own game and in coaching as well.  Whether it’s doing something with your eyes closed so that you have to feel that balance or just trying different things to trigger yourself to become more aware of your body.

Here’s a golf example from a book I read recently.  The premise is that you’re on your first hole and you have a really bad shot. Your first instinct is to think, I blew the first hole and I’m going to have a really bad day out here on the course.  But the author says, “What if I were to tell you that after your first hole you were going to have the best day of golf in your life?”  Well, then your mentality would probably be “Oh my gosh I can’t wait to play!”

You have power over your future.  Just because you let in one goal doesn’t mean you’ll let in the next nineteen.  You could have a shut out for the next nineteen shots, but if my mentality is that I’m going to have a bad day, I probably will have a bad day.


I always tell my girls that if they tell themselves, “Don’t miss this ball,” the last words in their heads are “Miss this ball.” And that’s negative energy.

Plus your visualization while you’re saying that is an image of missing it the last time around. That last miss has nothing to do with what happens next.  The reality is that you don’t lose your lacrosse skill that fast.  The great athletes are the ones who can tune out the expectations and the other people around them, and instead focus on the present moment.


What does the season for Boston Storm look like?  You guys are spread out so far.  You’re living all the way across the country.  How does that work?

The league gives us a travel stipend and basically, the model this past year was to bring the games to the tournaments. You know, we could bring them to Long Island, but if there’s a high school tournament going on in Richmond it wouldn’t really matter.  So they basically flew all four teams to places and we would play games there. I think we played each team two or three times.  And then we went into the championship weekend based on our wins and losses.


Are there practices as well?

You know, each team’s a little bit different.  Boston has a lot of people from out of town.  We had one or two practices when we could, but it was really difficult to get everyone in for them.  Baltimore, though, has a lot of players who live right around Baltimore so they had a lot more practices.


How does that experience compare to playing on the US team or at Syracuse?  When you’re in school, you’re playing together all the time and this feels more like a pick up league but with the best players you can imagine.

Honestly, that’s how we describe it to people—as the most intense game of pick-up you’ve ever played.  We do have the best athletes, the best lacrosse players and in my opinion, the best rules too, but we don’t see each other as often. That makes it more fun because you come into the weekend excited to see your friends and there’s not too much on the line.  You’re all really competitive, so you have a good time with it but it’s also really intense.  I had a blast playing this summer.  As long as I don’t have any conflicts, I definitely want to keep playing.


When you were at Syracuse, you played against a lot of the girls you’re now playing with, either on Boston Storm or the US team.  How do those relationships change?

It’s interesting because as a competitive player, you only see your opponents as they are on the field.  You forget that they’re also human and nice people too.  So it’s been an awesome experience to be a part of a team with these people and actually get to know them.  It’s been so fun to form these new friendships.


Last question.  A lot of younger girls look up to you as a hero.  You’ve played for the US team, you’ve played for Syracuse.  You’re playing for the first professional women’s league now.  Is there any piece of advice you received from a coach or mentor that really helped you in your career?  Or any advice of your own that you’d like to share with our Tenacity girls?

At the end of the day, a couple of things stick out to me.  The first is that you have to want it for yourself.  You can’t want it for the glory.  You’ve got to want it because you love the game and you love being out there; because you want it, not your parents.  And then one coach gave me this advice: Failure is a bruise not a tattoo. I think that’s really important. A lot of kids look up to us as US players and they see the great plays on the field, whether it’s a great save or Michelle Tumolo doing a behind the back.  But what they don’t see are the thousands of practice hours where we make fools of ourselves.  I can’t even tell you how many goals I’ve let in.  You have to understand that you’re going to fail and you’re going to mess up, but it’s not the end of the world and it’s only making you a better player because you’re learning from it.  And the second thing that goes along with that, that Reggie taught me at Syracuse, is that you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  If you don’t ever push your limits and you don’t ever use your left hand or you don’t try to come out of cage and make an interception, you’re never going to grow or acquire that skill.  You’ve got to be able to fail and if you’re pushing your limits, you’re probably going fail.  You’ll get burned and you’ll fall down.  You’ll miss a pass and you’ll let a goal in, but it’s definitely not going to be the last time you touch a ball.


Written By: Courtney Bird
October 20th, 2016



Kalena Johnson: The Definition of Tenacity


“Kalena is awesome. Actually the perfect word to describe her is tenacious. She is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever met – which is something you can’t teach or coach someone. She brings a desire to win and succeed to everything she does- whether it be running, practice, or a game.”

When I was first asked to interview Kalena Johnson, the only thing I knew about her was that she played for Tenacity’s Bay Area 2021 Blue team and that she had alopecia, a condition that results in hair loss but leaves Kalena otherwise healthy and fit.  I imagined Kalena would hate that—someone defining her by a medical condition rather than who she is—so I asked her coach to tell me a little bit about her and then, of course, I had the chance to ask Kalena about herself.  Her hopes and dreams.  Her memories.  At Tenacity, our players are unique and strong.  Every single girl brings something new to the table, whether it’s mental toughness learned when people stare or courage learned in a fight against cancer, whether it’s a drive to change the world through art or engineering.  So what does Kalena bring?  Turns out a whole lot.  Here’s what her coach, Rachael Martinez, had to say about her:

“Kalena is awesome. Actually the perfect word to describe her is tenacious. She is one of the fiercest competitors I have ever met – which is something you can’t teach or coach someone. She brings a desire to win and succeed to everything she does- whether it be running, practice, or a game. I think her intensity raises the level of play of those around her and she does an amazing job of challenging herself and her teammates. Besides that she has an awesome work ethic and positive attitude. She simply loves to play and always wants to be out on the field.”

And here’s what Kalena had to say about herself:


How did you start playing lacrosse?  And more particularly, how did you become involved with Tenacity?

I first started playing for Pleasanton Pride because it looked really fun. Some of my friends had played Tenacity and we heard good things about the club and I wanted to try it out.


img_7220I understand from your coaches that you’ve been dealing with alopecia.  Will you explain what exactly alopecia is and how it affects you?

Alopecia is  a type of hair loss when your immune system attacks your hair follicles. Alopecia was hard to overcome when I first was diagnosed because my parents and I didn’t know why all my hair was falling out.  Sometimes, it can bother me when other people stare at me, but I’m very grateful that I’m healthy and able to do whatever I want.


Do you think it’s impacted the way you approach life?  Has your attitude about anything changed as a result?

I don’t think it’s changed the way I approach life. Sometimes people underestimate me because I look different.  This just makes me want to work even harder to prove them wrong and do better for myself.


Back to lacrosse.  Any favorite lax memories, on or off the field?

During a Tenacity game in Palm Springs, I had a game winning shot. The game was tied and I drove in for a shot and the refs called shooting space. There was only a little time left and I knew I had to get the ball in the back of the net to win. I lined up on the middle hash on the 8 meter and I set the ball on the ground, centered myself, and picked it up, and set up in my starting position. The whistle blew and I sprinted at the goal. I could hear the footsteps of the girls behind me and the huffs behind their mouthguards. One girl jumped in front of me and I heard a whistle. It was shooting space again. I repeated my same process as before and lined up when I was ready. This time, I had the extra push to go harder and score and I could feel the rush of energy in my body. I flung the ball towards the back of the net and it bounced under the goalkeeper’s legs and hit the netting in the back of the cage.


How do you get yourself pumped up for a game?

Before games, l get pumped up with my teammates by saying our goals.  We are excited and focused. I also go over my mental training to compose myself before the game starts.


Have you had to overcome any obstacles in your game?  If so, any advice for other girls dealing with a similar situation?  

In the years I have played lacrosse, I have struggled with a broken wrist and foot. I have also had seavers. It all just depends on your situation. For me, I wanted to rest but still wanted to play. It is always important to keep practicing and going to practices no matter what you are going through so that when you are healed you will be on the same page as the team.


How do you keep yourself mentally in the game when things don’t go your way? How do you bounce back?

I keep myself mentally in the game by not letting the negatives affect me and I keep pushing through regardless of what the circumstances are.  Lacrosse is a team sport, so no matter what the score is we have to communicate and work together.


Any other interests we should know about?  Big dreams for the future?  Favorite subject in school?  If you had to give me a one minute biography, what would you say?

I love food. I have food allergies which limits me, but I love to cook and eat foods from different cultures and different styles of food. Whenever I am not playing sports or at school, I’m hanging out with my friends and family. I also really enjoy science. I have very big hopes for my future, and I am willing to work for them. I want to go to a great D1 school and play lacrosse.  Equally important is that the university have an elite engineering program as I see myself working in an engineering field longer term—my studies are very important to me.  I understand that this requires a lot of hard work, but I’m up for the challenge.



Written By: Courtney Bird
October 6th, 2016