New girls lacrosse coach aims to rebuild relationships, improve on last season

Junior Kara Kilbourne cradles the ball down the field in a lacrosse preseason practice. (Photo by Katie Jude)

The girls lacrosse team is set to begin their season with a home opener against Westerville Central on Thursday, March 25 under the leadership of new head coach and Latin teacher Jackie Lund.

Lund said she is replacing the former head coach and will be joined by Bexley alums Kate Bridge as JV coach, Hunter Hutchings as JV assistant coach, and social studies teacher Anna Schottenstein as a volunteer goalie coach. 

She added that she was still looking to fill the assistant varsity coach position. 

Prior to her time at the high school, Lund was a four-year varsity letterman in lacrosse, played intramural lacrosse at the University of Virginia, and served as the assistant varsity coach at Albemarle High School in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

She explained that her coaching style is focused on allowing student-athletes to find a balance between the academic and athletic aspects of their lives.

“My philosophy centers around student athletes being students first, then athletes, and those two things working well in tandem,” she said. 

Student-athletes who are able to find this balance, she added, will be able to better excel in all aspects of their life. 

  “I think that students who are coached by teachers form better relationships in and out of school,” she said.

She added that sports can be very beneficial to high school students, girls in particular.

“Being involved in high school athletics is a really good opportunity for young women in particular to become more confident working with each other, leading and finding their own footing in a different environment than the school environment,” she explained. 

Lund said that she has many hopes for the upcoming season, the first of which being that they are allowed to play during the COVID-19 pandemic. She added that the team has adopted many new COVID prevention procedures, including pre-practice health checks and wearing masks when not running. 

Because of the cancellation of spring sports last year, Lund said her main goal is to simply reestablish relationships within the team.  

“Not only did the girls lose a year of playing experience, but we also lost that teamwork component,” she explained. “We are really rebuilding from the bottom up with learning how to work together.”

Since the 2020 season was cancelled, there are also two entirely new classes who have never had the opportunity to play together, she said. She added that the influx of new players in addition to the coaching change will create a very different environment for the team. 

Junior goalie Molly Esque believes that the adjustment to a new coach will not be that difficult.

“I think this season will be different, but Coach Lund definitely knows what she is doing,” she said. “It shouldn’t be too hard to adapt, especially since she was already the assistant coach last year.”

Sophomore midfielder Mikayla Williams added that the coaching change will be beneficial to the team overall. 

“Different styles of coaching are always good so you can learn new things, and in a different way,” she explained.  

Lund added that another goal for the season is to improve the team’s record. 

“There were some close [games] two seasons ago, which hopefully we can turn around this year,” she said. 

The team has been preparing in the offseason by lifting in the weight room and hosting open nets, Lund said. She added that individual players have been participating in other sports or club lacrosse to help stay in shape.

“I think building back those fundamental strength and conditioning things to prevent injuries is going to be important, especially after losing a season,” she explained.

Williams said she has been participating in both club lacrosse and basketball during the offseason but has also been working out independently. 

 “I try to run every day and workout as much as possible with COVID to prepare [for the season],” she said. 

Esque, similarly said she plays club lacrosse and attends clinics in order to keep her skills sharp. 

Lund said that the team has two scrimmages scheduled before spring break, but the bulk of their season will take place once everyone returns.

“Once we get back from spring break, we are hitting the ground running with games every Tuesday and Thursday through the end of the school year,” she explained. 

Lund added that she is especially excited for the team to face Columbus Academy at home, as well as host Hilliard Darby for senior night.

There will be three returning seniors: Eimear McCann, Maia Bendavid and Dasi Bandler, all whom Lund said she is very excited to have back. 

“I am also very excited to see all the freshmen,” she said.  “We have a really fantastic number of freshmen coming out, and I am excited to see them play for the first time.”  

Lund explained that she was excited to get started with the new season, have a successful first year with the team, and hopefully establish a good precedent for the future.

 “I plan to be here for the foreseeable future, so I am hoping we get off on a great foot this year,” she said.