#TeamworksFamily Feature: Coach Black of Marquette WLAX

Meredith BlackHead CoachWomen's LacrosseMarquette UniversityWarm-up RoundFavorite color: Blue.Favorite food: Pizza.Childhood idol: Michael Jordan. Obsessed.Favorite hobby: Playing basketball.What drives you get up and attack the day?My players. I absolutely love and adore them. When I wake up I think, ‘What can I do today to help my team get better?’ My competitive nature drives me to be the best I can because I want it so badly for them.When and how did you know you would be a coach someday?I played at Notre Dame, and I was a captain my senior year. I was one of those captains that most players are annoyed by, because I did not hold back my opinions on what I felt everyone needed to be doing to improve. I enjoyed helping others on my team and their compliments to my coaching skills inspired me. My senior year I started emailing and sending letters to all Division I coaches. I ended up getting a response from several teams, including Missy Doherty, who at the time was at Towson. She hired me to be the assistant coach. From that day on I fell in love with the job. I knew after a couple years of assistant coaching that I wanted to really work toward being a head coach.What are some of the unique challenges to starting a new program?It’s a whirlwind. The biggest challenge is leadership. With only underclassmen on a young team, there is no seniority. The challenge for me as the coach is training them to be leaders, and helping them understand what it’s like to not have older players above you, helping you out.The second challenge was getting our athletes to play at game speed every day. It’s hard for the players to push themselves to play and practice at that level day in and day out, because they don’t know what that means or what it feels like.What is your coaching philosophy?My whole philosophy on the field is based around hustle. My team will hear me say that every day. I’m not as concerned with individual skills because we can work on those. I’m more concerned about what you give every single day. You are going to work hard and earn everything you get when you’re playing for me. I think that relates to life, as well. Off the field, we really focus on family and creating a team environment based on honesty and respect, so the players have a home away from home while they’re here at Marquette.If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself as you were starting your coaching career?I would tell myself to reach out, ask more questions and network to get ideas and feed off of people earlier in my career. I really didn’t start doing that until I became a head coach. Now that I know more people and am really involved in the coaching world, sitting and talking with other coaches and hearing their perspectives is fascinating to me. I gain so much from those conversations. Who have been some of your closest mentors throughout your career?I have had many wonderful mentors throughout my career. Missy Doherty, head coach at Penn State, Tracy Coyne, head coach at George Washington, and Kellie Young, head coach at Louisville, just to name a few. Each of them have advised and mentored me throughout various stages of my coaching career and have remained close friends of mine.What advice would you give to young coaches, or anyone looking to get into coaching?The best advice I have for young coaches is to do as much as you can. Work as many camps and clinics as you can. I benefitted the most when I was traveling around and had the opportunity to work with new people.I just said, ‘Yes’ to opportunities that came by. Because of that I feel like I really grew as a coach. I would encourage young coaches, or people looking into coaching to say 'Yes' to opportunities to keep them growing in their knowledge of the game.With an 18-month old baby, how do you balance your career with your family life? What would you tell someone who wants to have a family while also developing their coaching career?Communication is the number one thing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It takes a village and you have to lean on people. Whoever it may be, don’t be afraid to over communicate.My other advice is to not be afraid to stay in your career with a family. Too often people think they can’t make it work. You will be surprised how many people are willing to help. If you just speak up and ask, it can work. Sure, it’s hard, but you can do it and will benefit from facing the challenge.

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