March 4, 2015
By Jennifer Layer
The Southwestern women’s lacrosse team season is off to a different start this year. Following last year’s inaugural season, this year is the beginning of another first. This is the first season with new assistant coach, Marissa Mills.
Coach Mills comes in after former assistant coach, Kelly Ryan, left the Pirates in August to accept a job as the assistant women’s lacrosse coach at the University of Tampa in Tampa, Florida. Coach Ryan helped lead the team through the inaugural season and to a 7-9 record overall.
Mills is bringing to Southwestern an extensive background in lacrosse experience. Mills played for the women’s lacrosse team at Adelphi University for four years, bringing home three NCAA Division II National Championships. Mills was an NCAA Division II First Team All-American selection. She also served as coach for the Long Island Elite Lacrosse Club in Islip, New York.
Mills officially took the place of the previous assistant coach, Kelly Ryan, just prior to the start of the season. She has been with the team since the very first practice in the Fall.
“We found out at the beginning of the year that coach Mills was coming,” Jordan Little, a sophomore Attacker on the team, said. “She coached us through the fall and was there through all 16 practices. We even had team bonding dinners to get to know her better.”
The changing of the assistant coaches went smoothly. “She is very similar to our old coach so it was an easy transition,” Little said. “The team responded very well to her.”
Although Mills may be similar to the team’s previous assistant coach, she is bringing new ideas to the team. “I have incorporated a new defense that some of the girls are not accustomed to,” Coach Marissa Mills, new assistant women’s lacrosse coach, said. “I will be focusing on implementing this and getting them prepared.”
Mills’ experience in both coaching and playing will serve as great tools in coaching Southwestern’s women’s lacrosse team. “The girls are all very receptive to my coaching, and they respect my experience,” Mills said. “I demonstrate a lot. They understand better when they have someone actually showing them how to do it.”
Mills’ experience is not the only thing that has helped improve the team. “Coach Mills is very enthusiastic and has boosted the morale of the team,” Little said. “Suddenly everyone got much more competitive with each other. She really makes a point of verbally telling us to pick it up during practice. This helps us push us to get better.”
Within her short time at Southwestern, Mills has found herself as a valued aspect and respected member of the lacrosse team. “The coach (Matt Grosso) and I get along very well,” Mills said. “He allows me to give an equal say in the decisions that affect the team. The fact that we work so well together is very helpful.”
Although the respect Mills has for the team is important, it is also her excitement that creates opportunities. “I put it on the girls to be excited,” Mills said. However, her excitement exists not only for coaching but also for a love of the game. “It can be hard coaching, because sometimes I just want to get out there and play.”
With the experience, new ideas, and excitement that Mills brings to Southwestern, the women’s lacrosse team looks to capitalize on the new opportunities for a successful season.
See the Lady Pirates in action today as they take on the Lady Bruins of George Fox Univeristy. The game begins at 5:00 P.M.