Featured Image: Damien Kelly | Courtesy
VWU’s new Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Madison Heck comes after only two years of coaching experience.
The Women’s Lacrosse team returns for another year after 5 wins and 12 losses this past spring season. This year, however, the future has never looked brighter, and the girls have been blessed with a new head coach, Madison Heck.
Although the lacrosse program has seen worse days, they decided to part ways with the old coach and recruit a younger force.
Heck played for both Georgian Court University and East Stroudsburg University. She excelled in her collegiate lacrosse program, earning multiple awards, including conference tournament MVP. Heck led her team to an undefeated season her senior year.
This is Heck’s second year of coaching and first year of coaching a collegiate team. “It’s what I was meant to do,” Heck said.
Her infectious energy and evident passion for lacrosse is a breath of fresh air to the program. She intends to wipe clean the program’s past and focus on creating a successful future.
“Players play differently depending on their coach, so it wouldn’t be fair of me to watch and critique their old games,” Heck said. “I want to start with a blank slate, make my own opinions, and give the girls an opportunity to prove themselves.” Her strategy this year is to maintain a flexible coaching style.
“I want to see where people fit and what skills they bring,” Heck said. She also intends to cultivate a high pressure defense, which is a must after a season of losing more than half of their games by double figures.
Shooting also plagued the team last season. The girls averaged decent shot percentages with a satisfactory shot percentage of 39.5% and an excellent shots on goal percentage of 74.3%, but their shooting average of a meager 20.8 shots per game was their downfall.
“We need to shoot more to score,” Heck said. “I want to give them the confidence and energy they need to shoot more.” This confidence they will need as they have lost their second and fourth leading scorers, Mikayla Szudera (47 season goals) and Natalie Dunn (29 season goals). This does not seem to bother Heck, as she does not want to rely on a couple of people to carry the team.
“It takes a whole village to win,” Heck said. “I want a culture that is all about we versus me.” Family is her number one priority this season, and she plans to do a great deal of team bonding.
“You need to get along off and on the field,” Heck said. She talked about the team chemistry at her alma mater, East Stroudsburg University, boasting, “We all would’ve taken a bullet for each other.” This mindset allowed her team to reach the NCAA championship, although, unfortunately, they fell just short of becoming champions. This loss, however, has added fuel to her fire, and she is more than ready to whip this program into shape.
With fall ball around the corner, the Marlins are gearing up to play with Heck for the first time. “I’m really proud of them already. I see people stepping up, working hard, going on runs. I’m dying to get on the field with the girls and just better them,” she said.
Heck understands that the turnaround of this team may be slow, and it would be unrealistic to expect them to win it all this year; however, she simply wants to see an improvement in their record and the team’s overall wellbeing. Heck revealed that the girls confessed they lacked support from their last coach.
“I want them to love playing. It’s heartbreaking to hear players hate the game because of their coach,” Heck said.
Although the girls have yet to play with Heck, her animated personality has left them optimistic of her suitability for the job.
“I think that she’s very sweet and communicative, she’s very positive,” junior Corinne DeLawrence said. Sophomore Defense Joy Ramsey also shared her first impression of Heck, commenting, “She seems really dedicated to our program and ready to push us to be better.”
It is clear that the girls are in great hands, and this will be an exciting team to watch. Be sure to support them this spring!
By: Sydnee Washington