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400K Club: Denise Wescott, a Coach’s Coach

January 7, 2014    6742 Views

Paul Krome | @PaulKrome

Denise Wescott

More than 20,000 people have completed at least one course in the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program (CEP) since its 2005 inception. In this age of explosive growth in player participation, the CEP helps adults learn how to coach lacrosse — a vital component of keeping players involved in the sport.

Denise Wescott has been involved in the CEP from the outset. The former standout goalie at Maryland and coach at Delaware and now Monmouth helped author the curriculum on developing goalies after attending the CEP’s first train-the-trainer session.

But even before that, before becoming a regular clinician at the US Lacrosse National Convention, presented by Champion, and before taking two years away from the NCAA ranks to coach and conduct clinics overseas, Wescott’s passion revealed her primary role in the sport she loves.

She’s a teacher.

“I love teaching the sport,” said Wescott, who earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. “It’s one of the things I do best.”

Wescott and Delaware men’s coach Bob Shillinglaw helped US Lacrosse Director of Education and Training Erin Smith launch the CEP. Wescott stayed with the program as a Level 1 trainer.

She has conducted seven instructional clinics in addition to refining the goalie development curriculum. Wescott will host “1-2-3 Method for Teaching Skills and Small-Game Strategies” at the convention Jan. 10 at 3:30 p.m.

“She is completely unselfish with her knowledge,” Smith said. “She is one of the best goalie coaches, men’s or women’s game, to bless our sport, and she freely gives of her creative methodology for developing goalies.

“She is also one of the only goalie coaches I know who can integrate pet toys into her training regimen.”

Pet toys?

“I have this bucket of toys for goalie clinics — different colored balls, ropes, Velcro,” Wescott said. “If a goalie’s palming her stick, I can put super balls in the palm of her hand to get it off stick. It’s great to work on hand-eye coordination with goalies without putting all pads on. I try to teach with humor and let them have fun.”

Wescott has taken her clinics across the country and around the world. She coached Team Germany in the 2001 and 2005 World Cups. In between Delaware and Monmouth, she spent time coaching lacrosse in 18 countries over a two-year span. At last year’s World Cup, she met with Hong Kong coaches in their dorms to go over goalie drills and tips.

While equipment, rules and technology have changed over the years, Wescott tries to bring the same approach to teaching.

“I get up every morning excited about what I do. You have to stay current, but at the end of the day, we’re still teaching lessons and techniques,” she said. “We’re working with humans. If we understand that as coaches, if you love the sport and people, it’s very easy.”

A version of this article appeared in the January 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

Photo Credit: John Strohsacker

The US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program is a membership-driven program made possible in part by donations to the US Lacrosse Foundation, the philanthropic arm of US Lacrosse. Please consider making a donation to support the responsible growth of the sport.

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