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

Alumnae Profiles: Hannah Stapp & Evan Murphy, BL ’14

Hannah Stapp & Evan Murphy
BearLax 2014
University of California at Berkeley ’18 & University of Oregon ’18

Hannah Stapp and Evan Murphy go way back. They met playing competitive soccer in Pleasanton, CA and eventually played both soccer and lacrosse together in high school. They started playing for Tenacity in the club’s early days and now, sophomores in college, they’ve started a blog dedicated to making healthy eating easy, affordable and physically feasible for DI athletes making serious demands on their bodies. And they would know! Evan plays midfield for the University of Oregon, double majoring in International Relations and Spanish. When I asked her for a fun fact, she said, “Recently my friends got me a hedgehog as a birthday present. She got really fat—really fat—and then she had four baby hedgehogs.” Jealous? Me too.

Meanwhile, Hannah plays defense at the University of California at Berkeley. She’s majoring in Integrative Biology and minoring in Global Poverty and Practice. This summer, she plans to volunteer at a medical clinic that helps homeless people in Berkeley and get an internship. If you’re wondering how Hannah and Evan find time to cook, write the blog, give back to their communities, double major and play DI lacrosse, you’re not alone. These Tenacity girls clearly know how to do it all! Read on to get the inside scoop, and once you’re done with that check out their phenomenal blog here: Cuz We Eat.


Can you talk a little bit about starting up the blog?  What’s the relationship between the four of you?  Why food?  Was there a particular moment of inspiration?  A light bulb?

Evan: The idea came about last summer when I was hanging on the beach with my cousin and sister. We were all into healthy eating, but we realized that it was really hard to find cookbooks and recipes that would fit into the time constraints of a Division I athlete. We asked Hannah to do it with us because she’s into the same type of food and she’s a pescatarian, which added some variety. So basically, there’s two sisters, a cousin, and a close friend.

I changed my relationship with food the summer going into my senior year of high school. I had a really traumatic experience with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I posted a rant about it on the blog – “A Tribute To My War With My Intestines”). I was pretty much a terrible eater up until then, and I had to dramatically change my diet in order to live comfortably. It was all a blessing in disguise because I now love cooking and learning about food.


I read that blog post and would definitely encourage our high school laxers to take a look! I find that many younger girls don’t think actively about what they’re putting into their bodies and even fewer think about long term effects.  Do you find that your college teams put more of an effort into talking about nutrition?  What do you wish you knew about food as a high school athlete that you know now?

Hannah: We have a Nutritionist on staff that I’ve meet with to talk about the unique dietary needs of being an athlete and a pescatarian and gluten free. She has been a good resource, especially when I first began training really hard. My coaches are also supportive. Before our games, one of my assistant coaches asks all of the defenders what we ate that day (peanut butter is one of her favorite answers). While we do talk about it some as a team, it’s really up to each individual to take it seriously.

In high school, my parents regulated more of what I ate. In college, I make the decisions: in the cafeteria, at the grocery store, or at restaurants. I have to be accountable in maintaining a healthy balance. As a high school athlete I wish I knew how important it is to think about what you’re putting in your body all day, rather than just before practices and games. Eating junk food and sweets too often made me tired and less focused during lacrosse; once I found a good balance with what I was eating, I saw my mental and physical game improve.

Evan: My team and I are so blessed to have a really awesome nutritionist this year. We’ve done cooking demos, nutrition talks, and she prepares post-game snacks that are ready for us when we step off the field (she even has dairy free smoothies for the lactose-intolerant people which is awesome). The nutrition staff as a whole is very involved with all teams at U of O. I hope that Cuz We Eat has inspired some people too!

This sounds repetitive but in high school, I really just wish I thought about what I ate. My parents are really good about cooking healthy meals for our family, but when it was up to me I would eat a Double-Double animal style, a Neapolitan milkshake and fries after every game. In high school, I was essentially 0% muscle. I always wonder if my play would have been better if I’d eaten better.


How do you get yourselves pumped up for games?  Do you have pre-game rituals that you follow?  Superstitions?  What’s the ideal meal, aside from peanut butter?

Evan: We are lucky enough to have a dining hall exclusively for student-athlete right near our field. We eat our pregame meal 4 hours before we play, so that it can fully digest. My favorite meals to eat (depending on the time of day) are toast with almond butter and banana, chicken with brown rice and veggies, an egg scramble, or oatmeal. I tend to keep my pregame meal pretty bland so that I know it will not upset my stomach. By game time I’m hungry again, so I will usually have some nuts or a granola bar before playing.

As far as pre-game rituals go, I am not a very superstitious person. I get a lot of sleep the night before, and I usually listen to rap to get pumped up and focused. In high school I had this weird superstition where I would wait to tie my shoes until after the dynamic warm up. That pretty much died once I got to college, for obvious reasons.

Hannah: Like Evan, I usually listen to rap music because it makes me feel intense. Both on my team in high school and in college we’ve actually had a pre-game ritual of singing a song together to pump everyone up. In high school, we sang ‘Dream On’ by Aerosmith and at Cal, we sing the Cal Fight Song. In terms of pre game meal, I like to eat eggs, Greek yogurt and granola, or quinoa 3 hours before a game, and I always pack a snack to eat right before the game.


How did your experience with Tenacity differ from your standard high school lacrosse experience?  How do club teams develop that camaraderie when they’re only playing together once a week, twice a week, as opposed to every day.

Hannah: With Tenacity, I think we really bonded over our devotion and dedication to lacrosse. In high school, the level of skill on our team varied a lot, and so did the level of commitment. At Tenacity, everyone was there because they themself really wanted to be the best and learn from the best coaches. I think having teammates that were just as dedicated as myself, who pushed me every practice made me respect them.

Evan: Until now, I have never really thought about how little time we actually spent together because the bonds we created were so strong. It was an interesting dynamic because, like many Tenacity teams, the girls on our team were the top players from high schools throughout the Bay Area. We were all extremely competitive, but it never took away from our ability to be teammates and friends once BearLax practices came around. I think I took that atmosphere for granted, but it really is a unique program to be apart of. I really feel like our team had a selflessness and camaraderie that is not seen on most competitive club teams. We wanted to win and be recruited, but we were also friends and that was most important to us.

We were also lucky enough to be with BearLax from its first days, since we were in middle school. Being able to grow as people and players together from the very beginning made us extremely close. Seeing everyone achieve their goals and play college lacrosse was the best end to an incredible chapter in our lives.


If you could give your high school self (let’s say 9th grade), a piece of advice, what would it be?

Evan: I would love to be able to go back and tell high school Evan to not sweat over the little things. Like most other high school students, I tended to be consumed by the stresses of recruiting, taking the SATs, and improving my GPA. Although these things are super important, there was so much that I took for granted. Hindsight is 20/20, but something I want to encourage my little sisters and other high schoolers to do is to live in the moment, appreciate everything, and only worry about what you can control. I try to keep that in mind when I have 6 AM practice, a midterm, and a paper all in one day!

Hannah: There’s a phrase from a song that has always stuck with me and become sort of a mantra: “But the fighter still remains.” It reminds me that even when things get tough you have to keep fighting for what you want. Everyone faces adversity, and in my own experience, that’s when it’s hardest to keep fighting, but it’s also when you learn the most about who you are and your capabilities. I would want to tell a younger me that learning to fight for what you want is an important lesson in growing up.


How do you feel that Tenacity prepared you for college lax?  What else helped to get you ready?

Evan: Our head coach, Annie Leibovitz, was a huge source of motivation for our team. She really cemented her intense work ethic into our game, which was extremely beneficial when I got into the Division I scene. To be perfectly honest, we were all pretty scared of her (I’m pretty sure she knows this…we love you), but everything she taught us really helped our college game tremendously. I still remember the little rules she had to make sure weren’t being lazy. They taught me to have better attention to detail. And believe it or not, I actually learned to appreciate all the sprints I did back in the day.

I also had my dad as a coach for most of my childhood. This created a pretty intense, high-pressure situation that really taught me to be able to take criticism and be coachable no matter how badly you want to talk back. It goes without saying that Theresa plays a huge role in shaping Tenacity players into successful college student-athletes. I think the majority of BearLax alumni would agree that without Theresa we would not be in the place we are now.

Hannah: Tenacity taught me a lot about lacrosse. It helped me create a foundation for my skills and gave me a “Lax IQ” that I’ve been able to build on as a college athlete. The intensity of practices and the expectations of each individual were high, which made the transition to college practices a lot easier. I think there was an unspoken “no excuses” rule at Tenacity practice, with skill work, conditioning, and giving 100% effort. I think the support of my parents also helped prepare me. They’ve always pushed me to be the best player and person that I can be, which has made me want to work really hard as a student athlete to show them, and everyone else that helped me get here, what I can accomplish.


We talk a lot about how sports help prepare you for some of the challenges you come across in other aspects of your life.  Do you feel like that’s been true of your experience?  

Evan: One-hundred percent. I was recently in an interview for an internship with a congressman, and I could literally tie every single tough question I was asked to being a student-athlete. You feel like you’re in such a little world when you’re amongst your team, but the problems and situations you face are so applicable to any big world scenario. Above all, I think a never-give-up work ethic is the most valuable skill I have acquired through my experience so far. You don’t want to wake up at 6AM for conditioning? You’re sore? That sucks… you still have to get up, play through your mind, body, and rain to fight for some playing time. Not many regular college students can say that have that kind of will power, and I think (hope) any potential interviewer would love someone as hardworking as a student-athlete.

Hannah: Absolutely. Being an athlete has taught me a lot about mental toughness. I’ve experienced plenty of adverse situations because of sports (losing, injuries, not getting playing time, etc.) but I’ve also learned a lot about what it takes to get over that adverse situation. I think this had made me a hard worker (or at least I hope it has) and has prepared me for how to handle difficult situations in that I’ve experienced in life.


By: Courtney Bird
April 28, 2016

Alumnae Profiles: Tess Mattimore, BL ’12

Tess Mattimore
BearLax 2012
Skidmore College 2016


Tess Mattimore started playing for Tenacity when it felt more like a ragged band of ambitious revolutionaries.  She was in sixth grade and had been playing since second, the year her family moved from New Jersey to the Bay Area.  Her first team, the Southern Marin Puppettes, was not big.  At first, it was called a developmental team until Tess’s mother said they needed a name with a little more confidence and pizzazz.  When she graduated to Tenacity, the intensity picked up, but still the teams were mixed grade, a hodge podge of girls coming together for the opportunity to play a game they loved.  

Ten years later, Tenacity has gone non-profit and expanded to Portland, Houston and Sacramento.  Tess is a senior at Skidmore, a captain of her lacrosse team, the treasurer of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and a business major.  She already has a job lined up at IBM Consulting in New York City.  I guess we’re all growing up!


How did you end up at Skidmore?  How did you know it was the right fit?

I was initially thinking about walking on at a DI program like Villanova or Marquette, but I was getting a little frustrated with the process and a little burnt out.  Then Theresa recommended I go to Elite 180, which is the big DIII recruiting camp at Keane College, and I loved it.  It’s mostly focused on games, rather than skill sessions, which is really fun, and the coaches rotate through teams, so you get to work with three different DIII coaches.  That’s where I initially met my current coach.  She emailed me expressing interest and my mom convinced me to visit Saratoga and go on an official visit at Skidmore, so I went, saw the town, met the team and fell in love with it.  I really liked the size of the school and the academics.


What’s your favorite thing about playing there?

I like having a team and a group of girls that I know have my back on campus.  It was so nice coming into college with a set group of friends, even though I’ve made of lot of friends outside of the team.  It just took a lot of the pressure off, because the transition freshmen year can be so challenging.  And it’s nice having an activitiy that creates a routine in my life and gives me the opportunity to take a break from academics.


Your sisters, Kate and Annie, also played for BearLax and for your high school team.  What was it like playing with them in high school?

It was so much fun.  My senior year, they were both on varsity as well—as a freshmen and a sophomore.  Our school wrote an article on us because we had the most siblings on a team at one time.  I don’t think it’s an official record, but people kept saying that.  I love my sisters to death.  They’re two of my best friends. Annie played defense, and Kate and I both played attack.  It was like Kate knew what I was thinking on the field.  I probably assisted her on half of her goals. It was a great team dynamic.  Sometimes, it could be a problem because you’re harder on your sisters, you don’t really filter what you say to them.


Were you competitive with each other?

Yes and no.  We worked really well together, and we just wanted to see each other succeed.  Kate is an amazing lacrosse player.  She got All American her junior or sophomore year. It can be hard sometimes yelling at her to pass the ball, but moreso we always just tried to push each other rather than being competitive with each other.  


Have you run into any obstacles you’ve had to overcome in your time as a player?

I’m a very heady player, a very mental player.  I sometimes psych myself out, which can be worse than a physical challenge depending on how you look at it.  You can’t do physical therapy to fix it.  Sometimes, I need to gain some perspective, remind myself who I’m playing for and why I like lacrosse.  Take a step back and say, it’s just lacrosse.  Have fun.  Don’t take it too seriously.  You think it’s this huge life altering thing that’s going to make or break your day, your month, your year, and at the end of the day it’s just a game.  You can only do as much as you can do.  My coach always tells me to stop overanalyzing everything that’s going on.


What are you into outside of lacrosse?  What do you do for fun?

I’m the treasurer of the Student Athletic Advisory Council, SAAC.  We work on being a liaison between athletics and the rest of the community, and making athletics a bigger part of campus life. Skidmore is a pretty artsy school, so athletic pride isn’t always a focus.  We work on that.  

Outside of lacrosse and school, I love to read and I love to travel.  I went abroad to Florence junior year and I also coached lacrosse in South Africa for two summers.  It was an amazing experience.  Pretty crazy trying to teach lacrosse to people who don’t speak English.  We  had a couple of translators, but for the most part it was me trying to act out what I wanted them to do.  


How did you get into coaching in South Africa?

My teammate and best friend, Emma Harris, wanted to coach lacrosse abroad and do a community service trip.  She started googling and found the South African Lacrosse Project.  It was started by two brothers from Maryland.  Their former nanny was from the Limpopo region, so they went to visit her and brought their own lacrosse sticks, and the kids got really into it.  That was ten years ago, I think.  So they kept bringing more lacrosse sticks and eventually started this week long camp.  Now, the locals have lacrosse practices year round.


What did you take away from your Tenacity experience?  

Well, we have a different experience than girls growing up on the east coast.  Here, you get this great opportunity to travel with the team and learn to take care of yourself.  I’m a middle child.  My parents didn’t travel with me.  They were always kind of like, “okay Tess, good luck!”  It taught me independence and time management.  And then I liked the community aspect of it.  Lacrosse on the west coast feels so small.  When I was in high school, I knew everyone in the area who played lacrosse.  I’d most likely played on a team with them.  I love the Tenacity community and being exposed to people from all over the Bay Area whom I would have never met without club lacrosse.

It’s crazy for me to see where the club is now compared to when I started.  When I started it was mixed years and Theresa would send us to tournaments in these janky uniforms.  She would sign one team up as two teams so we would get more playing time, get the most bang for our buck.  It was great.  It was so fun.  It’s amazing to see how established Teancity is now and to see the growth of lacrosse on the west coast.


April 21, 2016
Written By: Courtney Bird

Alumnae Profiles: Lauren Goerz, BL ’09

Lauren Goerz
BearLax 2009
University of Virginia 2014

Lauren Goerz had just one year of college lacrosse under her belt when Cal Berkeley cut five sports programs, including the women’s lacrosse team, in 2010.  It’s a story that Tenacity knows well: founder Theresa Sherry was head coach at the time.  Lauren was devastated.  Cal had been perfect—close to her family in Danville, CA, academically rigorous and beautiful to boot—but she wasn’t ready to say goodbye to her lacrosse career.  Instead, she transferred to the University of Virginia and joined a DI program consistently ranked in the top ten.  The only west coaster on the team, she became a staple on the defensive end.  

After graduating from UVA in 2014 with a degree in English, Lauren joined the Scotland National Lacrosse Team as an assistant coach.  I know what you’re thinking—what?  how?! where do I sign up?!  No one better to ask than the lady herself.  So, we caught up with Lauren while she was running lax clinics, riding bicycles, and making toast with hagelslag in the Netherlands.  Here’s what she had to say:


You started playing lacrosse in seventh grade and ended up playing with more experienced teammates at UVA, one of the best programs in the country.  I’m impressed by how well you seem to have adapted to the level of play.  How do you think your relatively late start impacted your attitude toward the game?  How was the adjustment period? 

I think my late start helped me become a fast learner. When you are surrounded by people with more knowledge and experience than yourself, you have to adapt efficiently and quickly to meet the standard. This was my same experience at UVa. Without a doubt, I had the weakest stick work on the team when I arrived for my first day of practice. In order to improve my hand eye coordination one of my coaches told me I had a week to learn how to juggle, or the whole team would run. When you are under this kind of pressure, and surrounded by individuals with exceptionally good stick work, you learn to figure everything out quickly in order to get by.


Did you ever have moments of doubt?  How did you overcome that?  I think confidence and the mental game in general is such a challenge in girls’ lacrosse, so I’m curious.  Any tips for a strongly fortified mind?

Of course.  I don’t think you’ve been challenged enough if you have not had moments of doubt in your lacrosse career.  Confidence and mental toughness were both a huge part of my own lacrosse journey. On any given team there are only 11 spots on a lacrosse field and every person around you is vying for one of those spots. It’s a highly competitive and cutthroat environment. It’s not uncommon for players to do a cost analysis of all the hours they spend training with the correlating minutes they see on the pitch – I was definitely one of them at one point.

However, I think I felt most empowered and at peace as a player the summer before my senior year. I wanted my last year to be my best yet, and I did it by changing my mental focus. Instead of hyper focusing on my performance during the 60 minutes of match play each week, I took some of the pressure off by considering my success and failure in the moments outside of each 60-minute game. Overall my mental state and performance improved as I realized I could be successful in many different arenas. I could feel successful building stronger relationships with my teammates, successful every time I had the opportunity to play outside on a nice spring day, and successful by acknowledging that I got to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I think that a strong sense of gratitude can greatly contribute to a player’s mental strength.  


How did you balance academics and athletics at such a rigorous school?

I think achieving balance is nearly impossible for a collegiate athlete. As soon as you arrive you throw balance out the window and instead realize a new kind of reality, one in which life is a bit more unbalanced. You have less time and energy to complete the same number of assignments as your peers, and late nights studying make your 6 AM workouts even more challenging. It can be difficult to reconcile the feeling that you are always sacrificing something, either your academic success or athletic success.

Two things helped me keep it all together. Firstly, I learned to distinguish essential from non essential work so I was efficient with my time. Secondly, I made sure I was mentally present and engaged in my lectures and section discussions. I studied English and French, and it was not uncommon for a literature class to list a novel a week on the syllabus. Even though it would have been nearly impossible to read and analyze 3-4 full novels a week with the time constraints of my sport, I took detailed notes and paid close attention in class so that I could extract the information I needed for my coursework and exams without reading each book in its entirety.


When did you start working with the Scottish National Team?  And how’s it going?  Any perks?

Right now I’m an assistant coach for Scotland, and had my first training with them in October 2014. So far it has been an incredible coaching experience. This past summer we came in third place at the European Championships in the Czech Republic, and we are currently building up to the World Cup in 2017. I think the greatest perk is the opportunity to being a part of the international lacrosse community and attend international competitions. Several times now I have had a chance to walk out with Scotland during the opening ceremonies, and sing ‘Scotland the Brave’ before games. Every time we play it really means something.  


Can you talk a little bit about your transition from player to coach?  

This past year I continued to coach the Scotland national team and also served as one of the player coaches for my own lacrosse team at Durham University where I am working on a masters. I think my transition to a coaching role came naturally since I have been coaching on the side nearly as long as I’ve been playing. When I was a Junior at Monte Vista High School I started working as a coach for Tenacity and additionally ran individual training sessions for players. Even throughout college I continued to coach at Virginia clinics and as well as Stanford and Cal camps.

Since I am still an active player, as a coach I really make an effort to look at my training plans with a player’s eye as well. I think you get much more out of players when they are enjoying a challenge and can see an opportunity for development in each activity. You don’t always get it right but I think it’s an important element to think about.  


What’s the most fun you’ve ever had playing lacrosse?

Hands down, playing in international lacrosse tournaments. There are so many in Europe that I had no idea about until I moved out here. Some are serious, and others are social, but regardless it is incredible to be surrounded by teams from so many different countries that have come together for lacrosse. I love every minute of it.


Any advice for young defenders?  What should a ninth grade defender, for example, be focusing on?  How can she practice it?

I vividly remember my 9th grade year, and how I was so lucky to have such awesome upperclassmen teammates that helped me get up to speed with everything since I was still very new to the game. So firstly 9th graders, when you get an opportunity to play with older or more experienced players, work to find a ‘mentor’ or player you respect and don’t be afraid to ask for help or support!

More specifically for 9th grade defenders, there are three points of focus that instantly came to my mind. Firstly, focus on your voice (your ability to direct and communicate with others), then your vision (not only your peripheral vision, but your ability to anticipate and understand the movement of an attack), and lastly your presence (how you take up space and command respect from attackers). These three things are so important because they are absolutely essential to you as a player no matter what kind of defensive system you are playing in.


Voice: This is something that is great to develop early. No matter your skill set, everyone has a voice. Practice becoming a vocal leader by keeping the flow of communication constant, even when you are off the field or taking a rest in a drill. A sideline player can be like an extra man in defense by communicating to your teammates where the ball is, what direction the help is, etc.  

Vision: This is a bit harder to practice, but one way to do it is to try to get your hands on some film and watch with some teammates. Each time a goal is scored, think about what could have been changed in the defense to prevent the goal. Again, when you are at practice playing sevens with your team and the defensive unit successfully recovers the ball or gets scored on, take a quick moment to review with your teammates what went right and wrong so you can understand what happened. Its one thing for your coach to tell you what went wrong, but you reach a whole new level of awareness when you can solve the problem on your own.   

Presence: Over the years, I have found you end up playing a lot less defense by simply appearing to have a commanding presence. Attackers are smart, and they are far more likely to take on someone who looks nervous or scared than the defender that confidently takes up space and approaches the ball with a cool, knowing confidence. When you are playing defense, try to think about the ways you can use your body or your voice to communicate your strength and presence (even if you don’t feel so confident on the inside!). Be commanding, and be decisive.


How did Tenacity impact your game?  Anything you learned during your time with Theresa that has stayed with you?    

I think one thing that resonated with me was a conversation I had with Theresa after my first or second year at UVa, and she told me I needed to “fake it ‘til you make it.” There came a point at which I needed to stop acknowledging my comparative lack of experience and learn to use the skills that I did have to become a competitor. It’s a mental reversal. Sure, I didn’t come from a hot bed lacrosse area. I didn’t have fancy stick work. But I had other strengths. Once I had convinced myself that I was good enough, my play elevated enough to convince my coaches and my teammates too.


April 14, 2016
Written By: Courtney Bird

Alumnae Profiles: Chelsea Randel, BL ’10

Chelsea Randel
BearLax 2010
University of Oregon 2014
Tenacity Project East Bay Regional Coordinator


Chelsea Randel’s positivity is contagious.  She has a passion for teamwork and community, and she thrives when she’s giving back.  Maybe that’s what makes her a perfect fit for an organization like Tenacity, and maybe that’s why she jumped at the opportunity to come back and join our staff in January 2015.  Chelsea played lacrosse at the University of Oregon and graduated in the spring of 2014.  Five years earlier, she’d had a tough time deciding between U of O and St. Mary’s in California, but, as she told me, “I went up to Oregon one last time and the second I stepped on the campus, I knew that was where I belonged.  My older brother went there, so really my love for the school started when I first visited as a freshman in high school.”
She was interning at a sports company in Austin, Texas, planning triathlons, marathons and bike races when we snagged her six months after graduation.  Here’s what she had to say about the Tenacity family and about her time playing for the Ducks.


You played for BearLax in high school and now you’re working full time with the Tenacity Project in the East Bay.  What drew you back?  Has your perception of Tenacity’s mission changed as your role has changed?

I was catching up with Theresa, seeing how things were going, and a week later I she emailed me saying they were looking to hire someone full time.  It was early November and my internship was ending in December, so at that point I was starting to look for other jobs back in California or Texas or Oregon.  I was looking all over the place and then I got this email, and I was so, so happy.  I’m so grateful to be working for an organization that helps girls grow in the way that Tenacity does.  Our mission is to be there for players, not only on the lacrosse field but in the community and down the road from now.  I don’t think necessarily the goals have changed, but its gotten bigger and better—the fact that we can offer financial aid and help with college recruiting now.  It’s not just two hours a week on the lacrosse field.  Those principles have been there since as long as I can remember.


Tenacity is, as you’ve said, a mission driven organization.  While we focus on lacrosse, we also want to help our girls build character and become involved with their communities.  Can you talk a little bit about your work with O Heroes at UO?  

As a freshman I started going to meetings and events with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). My junior and senior year, I held a position on the SAAC board, and that was a blast.  We planned community service events and gave students an opportunity to unwind.  Through that, I became super involved with O-Heroes.  

So, O Heroes slogan is “Athletes on the Field, Champions in the Community.”  Every Wednesday was O Heroes day at the Boys and Girls Club of Eugene and it was so fun.  It truly was a time to step back from sports and school work and everything going on in your personal life and just have fun with these kids.  We’d play basketball or cards or watch a movie.  I actually took an internship at the Boys and Girls Club at the end of my junior year and then all of my senior year.  O Heroes was really able to help me get that internship and inspired me to get involved in that way.  The kids looked up to you as if you’re this amazing role model.  We’d have O Heroes Days at our games, where all kids would get in free or get a free t-shirt.  And then we’d all wear O Heroes warm up shirts to support them.  I’m actually trying to get more involved with volunteer opportunities here in Pleasanton, because I just really miss it.


Did you have any pre-game rituals?

In our locker room, there’s a giant O for Oregon on the floor.  It’s huge and yellow and it takes up like 90% of the floor, and we would never step on it.  You had to respect the O.  You would walk around it or step over it, but on game days we would all come into the middle of it and do our cheer there.  


Do you have a moment that, for you, represents why you love lacrosse?  

My freshmen year we were playing in our conference tournament and we were beating Stanford 7 to 0, and then they ended up winning.  Then my sophomore year of college, we played them in the conference tournament again and this time, we beat them.  There was a minute left of the game and I remember looking at my teammates and being like, “Wow, we actually did it.”  It was the first time Oregon had won the conference championship and I just remember looking around and seeing every single teammate smiling and our coaches smiling and our athletic director smiling.  Everyone was so happy, and it was such a great feeling.  That was the moment we’d been working for all year.


So you were an underclassmen.  Were you playing in those games?

I didn’t play the whole first half of the Stanford game my freshmen year and then when my coach called my name in the second half, I was like, “Wait, did she just say my name?”  And I went over there and she said, “We need the ball back.  We really need some fresh legs.”  So I went in and we went into a high pressure defense.  I don’t even remember if we got the ball back or not.  I remember just freaking out as a freshman.  And then my sophomore year, I didn’t start but I played a bit in the game.


I think it’s so important for players to realize that even if they’re not playing the entire game, or starting, that their contribution in practice and in pre-game is a huge factor in making the team great.  And it’s hard to realize, but if you face your hardest competition in practice, game day is a lot easier.

I’m with you on that.  Even junior and senior year I wasn’t always on the field for all fifty minutes of the game.  There are thirty people on a team and it’s gotta be what’s best for the team in a particular game.  But the Oregon team has what we call the Pillar Award and we vote for the person who stays positive and lifts the team up in a hard situation.  I won that sophomore year, junior year and senior year.  That solidified for me that I was a big part of the team even if I wasn’t a starter.  That’s kind of my personality.  I thrive on being a very positive, encouraging person and being there for people when I can be.


April 7, 2016
Written by: Courtney Bird