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Related Story: Confessions of a B-Team Mom
In its September/October 2004 edition, Lacrosse Magazine publicized the launch of the first online course for a new program designed to educate lacrosse coaches and highlighted the fact that 16 coaches had enrolled in the course in its first week.
Nearly 10 years and 30,000 participating coaches later, Erin Smith looks back with a laugh.
“We were going to try living in Baltimore for one year,” said Smith, who, with her husband Greg and then-2-year-old son Xander, departed their adopted hometown of Pittsburgh for jobs within walking distance — Greg at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus and Erin as the new associate director of programs at US Lacrosse.
“Greg was reading me the job description — education, programs, lacrosse — and said, ‘It’s you!’ I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new job.”
But the Smiths arrived in the summer of 2004, and Erin replaced Katherine Clark, who worked with a volunteer group of college and high school coaches on the development of the online course. Whether it was the lure of lacrosse, the charm of Charm City or the opportunity to build on that one course, Smith, now the director of education and training at US Lacrosse, has overseen a decade’s worth of expansion of the US Lacrosse Coaching Education Program (CEP).
“I like building things, creating materials that people can use to better themselves,” said Smith, a former club player and 1998 graduate of Grove City College with a degree in elementary education.
And build she has. With resources provided by the members and donors of US Lacrosse, Smith has led efforts to bring one of the goals of the original US Lacrosse Strategic Plan to fruition. The CEP is a robust, multi-level program that includes online and in-person clinics and other offerings designed to provide adults with the education necessary to coach lacrosse to various age groups and skill levels, and to achieve a level of certification by the sport’s national governing body (NGB). Along the way, US Lacrosse has launched and refined a similar program for lacrosse officials.
“Erin really has been the rudder that has guided the growth of our educational programs,” said Joshua Christian, managing director of sport development at US Lacrosse. “When she got here we offered some educational resources. Now, we have full-fledged programs that include the opportunity for people to become certified.”
Preseason marks the height of in-person clinics for the CEP, taking place across the country (see uslacrosse.org/cep for a schedule). The CEP, and its counterpart for officials, for that matter, have been critical in helping US Lacrosse pursue another strategic priority — enhancing the quality of the lacrosse experience for participants.
“To be an NGB that’s as young as we are and have those programs in place is amazing,” Christian said. “Now we’re looking to making those programs even more accessible locally, through leagues and other partnerships.”So much for a one-year tryout.
“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Never be a kid’s last coach,’” Smith said. “Hearing from people that may never have played before that went through a level of the program and now feel so confident that they’re comfortable calling themselves ‘coaches’ — that makes it worthwhile. They are now helping kids learn the game correctly and get the most out of their experiences in the sport.”
Much like Smith has gotten the most out of her time at US Lacrosse, and more.
The story above is an edited version of one that appeared in the February 2014 edition of Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the magazine? Join US Lacrosse today to start a subscription while supporting the responsible growth of the sport.
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