Three years ago, the Indians got a girls’ lacrosse team. Two years ago, they got a coach.
I remember it like it was a flower day just last spring, mostly because it was, except that El Niño had pretty much drowned all the flowers.
But it was still the daytime, and I guess it was actually kind of a while ago, because when I first went out to Indian River High School to meet the sprightly young The Ohio State University grad taking over the girls’ lacrosse team that I had been hearing so much about all winter, former Point photographer and — according to his latest Facebook post that if you haven’t seen yet then…just don’t — apparent current Speedo® model R. Chris Clark was still around to take the photos. Also, at that point, he was still wearing pants.
And so, but, anyway, I went out there to meet head coach Kelsea Ayers on a probably-raining day last spring and figured out more-or-less right away why everyone was so excited. Not only were the Indians gearing up for their first-ever varsity season, but now they had a coach fresh off her senior season at the “The,” hungry to establish a tradition at IR like all the ones she’d spent her life of lacrosse being a part of.
Put simply, Coach Ayers was a coach.
It was tough to stay focused that day, with all the excitement, but initial secret judgements and/or general inner-monologue during our first interview included, without being limited to, the following:
(1) Hey, this is all sounding very exciting.
(2) Yeah, sure, I’ll be at that game.
(3) You bet. I’ll be at that one, too.
(4) That’s not how you pronounce “Smyrna.”
(5) Alright, she’s trying to schedule you for another game, like, a month in advance. This would probably be a good time to let her know you thought your iPhone calendar was a sudoku app until trying to solve that 3-by-3 with “Martin Luther King Day” last week.
(6) Wait, why is she pointing like that? Are you supposed to be looking at something? Just make a show of squinting and nod.
(7) I know she’s excited and everything, but if she keeps talking this fast, I’m only going to be able to get, like, half of it, when I play the tape back later.
(8) What do they call attackmen in girls’ lacrosse, anyway? Attackwomen? No, that’s not right… (9) Also, what’s the deal with the oranges in that Ziplock over there? Are they for everyone or specifically for active players?
(10) Note to self: DO NOT bring up that Big Ten title game again.
(11) Is she gonna blow the whistle or they just gonna keep running?
(12) Stop doing pushups, you fool — she was talking to them, not you.
(12) Again. It’s “Smyrna,” Coach. Not “Smyrna.” I should really be telling her this out loud.
(13) Wait, she’s almost done explaining the attackwomen thing. Think of another question.
(14) Wait, now she’s yelling at you. What’d you do? I knew those oranges weren’t for everyone. (15) No, wait… she’s not yelling. She’s just really excited about lacrosse, I’m pretty sure…
And so, but, anyway, I did eventually figure out how iPhone calendars worked and that I was actually quite bad at sudoku, and got to see the development of the program first-hand.
How about Emiley Shuey’s by-a-shoestring score to send the Indians past Salisbury School last season? How about Mya Parks’ game-winning save against Sussex Academy this season? Lexi Haden’s game-winning goal against Sussex Tech just last week?
Not only that, but along with assistant coach Anne McBride and Boosters’ president Sherry Brannon (of exploding umbrella-cart fame), the girls’ lax dream team has gone above and beyond in everything from fundraisers to team outings, trying to establish a tradition for the generations still to come.
And so, but, getting to my point about all of this, the program will have to say goodbye to both Coach Ayers and Coach McBride as they head off on their separate paths but still leave a foundation for the Indians to lead on toward their own.
From the instructional clinics for interested players, to lobbying to the school board for approval, the junior varsity’s undefeated season in 2015, to the first official varsity season in 2016, it has all been fun to watch, and Coach Ayers and Coach McBride have played a huge part in all of the early success.
While they will be missed by players and sports reporters alike, at least we still have Sherry Brannon… And umbrellas. We will always have umbrellas.