Capen hired to coach women’s LAX team

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Capen hired to coach women’s LAX team

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JSC graduate Jeff Capen has been appointed women’s lacrosse coach for the spring 2017 season.
Capen has coached soccer for over 20 years but has had little to no experience when it comes to lacrosse.

JSC Director of Athletics Jamey Ventura says that an opening for the position was first posted in September and again in November. “I formulated a search committee where we began the interview process,” he said. “We invited Capen to interview for an hour with the search committee, and then with the associate dean of enrollment services, President Collins and finally with members of the women’s lacrosse team.”

Since receiving the position, Capen noted that he has spent the last month learning everything he can about lacrosse. “I’ve watched hundreds of hours of game films and learning DVDs, and also spent a weekend in Baltimore at the U.S. lacrosse convention where I picked up great contacts and information.”

Even with little lacrosse experience, Ventura says that Capen proved that his ability to lead, motivate and coach student athletes made him a good candidate for this position. “He is a student of sport and he has been putting the necessary time in to learn the details specific to the game of women’s lacrosse,” says Ventura. “There are many facets of the game from field spacing, to cuts and screens, to defensive shifts, to motion offenses that are transferrable to other sports that he has experience in.”

With smaller NCAA Division III institutions, Ventura noted that coaches may be hired to coach one sport and then are asked for one reason or another to coach another sport in the opposite season. “Some full-time positions are set up that way where a coach might coach a fall sport and spring sport to enable the position to be full time,” said Ventura. “Other times it occurs as a need to fill a position that was vacated quickly.”

From 2007 to 2009, the assistant director of athletics and head men’s basketball coach, Michael Osborne, stepped in to coach the Men’s lacrosse team as they couldn’t find a quality coaching candidate to fill that position.

“Even though Osbourne didn’t have coaching experience with lacrosse, he did understand the transferrable facets of coaching and led the team to a 12-9 record over those two seasons,” said Ventura. “With that said, Capen will bring stability to this fairly new program at JSC and create a culture of success. He is the fourth coach of this program which is about to play its third season of competition.”

When thinking of seasonal goals, Capen says that the overall driving goal is to be playing on May 28, 2017 in Virginia for the championship. “I can’t imagine any coach going into a season not including that as the first goal. It’s the only goal that really matters,” says Capen. “It’s why they set up a season, everyone is given a division, brackets are created, and a championship game is held.”

To that end, Capen says that the first practice was held at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, which was the first legal minute to begin preseason practice for the league. “My driving message, which seems to have anchored well, is that if you want to play in the last minute of the season, it stands to reason that you should want to be playing on the first minute of the season.”

2017 women’s lacrosse captain Nichole Weeks and longtime player Kait Boucher note that the first thought of having Capen as their coach was difficult knowing that he hadn’t had much experience.

“I want to see what his strategy will do for us, because he does have such a different method for playing lacrosse and how he’s coaching it,” said Weeks. “For us the normal way hasn’t really worked too well in the past. With his methods we should be able to outrun other teams and have twice as many shots on net.”

Boucher added that she is pleased with how much everyone is improving individually and as a team. “In just two weeks of practice we have improved so much, and I am looking forward to the season and making memories with the team.”

Aside from having to learn the game, Capen says that the greatest challenge is that he is a nontraditional coach. “Everything that I have done all of my life in coaching is typically outside the box on some level,” he said.

Coaching at the college level requires a huge time commitment said Ventura. “This can be difficult for our part time coaching staff,” he said. “Our three previous women’s lacrosse coaches had specific experience coaching the sport, but in the end were unable to commit the time necessary to building this program from the ground up.”

With this, Weeks and Boucher acknowledge that people might be scared about joining a program that hasn’t been built. “Right now we definitely need more numbers, and we are struggling to get them based off commitment,” said Weeks. “I think that what Capen has been doing is great, but it’s also the team’s job to get more players.”

Boucher says that she hopes they can grow as a team and overcome obstacles that may seem impossible, and that they have a better season than last year, so that more players will want to play again next season.

With growth in mind, Capen noted that there have already been three standout student helpers with the program. Mark Hinkle, Nate Zaccara and Taylor Stone have been putting in a lot of time to the women’s LAX program by consistently showing an interest in the game, and lending a helping hand at practices.

Weeks says that she thinks things are looking pretty good, and that this season is going to be one to watch: “With what we are doing so far, it could be great.”

The JSC women’s lacrosse season kicks off in March with a series of away games leading up to the home opener on April 1.