New lacrosse coach a familiar face

Category:  Sports
Wednesday, March 13th, 2019 at 5:30 PM

For many, a graduate assistant position can be a great way to help offset the cost of an education, while gaining real-world experience.

LeighAnn Stauffer, a graduate student working toward her master’s in psychology, has taken this approach to the extreme. She’ll be grabbing the reigns of the Edinboro women’s lacrosse team after serving as a graduate assistant coach last year.

Stauffer was introduced to lacrosse in the sixth grade when her friends told her she would like it, and she’s been hooked since, playing throughout college.

St. Bonaventure — the college she played at — is where she met Caitlin Formato, who told her about the graduate assistant position at Edinboro. Formato was the head coach of Edinboro’s lacrosse team for two years.

Stauffer took Formato’s advice, landing in Edinboro a year later under first-year head coach Jenny Wirth. Wirth departed for Wheeling Jesuit University after last season, opening the door for Stauffer to take over. 

Stauffer is also in her second year of pursuing her master’s degree in psychology, which she said can be a “tough” workload. But, she’s familiar with this balance, as she played lacrosse and attended school for years.

“It’s just a lot more accountability and responsibility on my part, rather than playing, but I’m used to the business of the schedule,” Stauffer said.

She thinks that her experiences with the team as the graduate assistant will help her as coach, as she knows the players. 

“That’s one of the most important things that comes with being a coach is getting to know your players, getting to know their style of play, getting to know the person that they are [and] how they want to be coached, [and] how they respond to being coached,” Stauffer said.

Desiree Doucette, one of the members of the lacrosse team, talked about Stauffer taking the reigns. “I think that, as a team, we needed some consistency going into this year, and I know that we are all extremely grateful that Leigh decided to apply for the job and that the athletic department chose her.”

Sidney Dobbins, another member of the lacrosse team, agreed that Stauffer’s experience with the squad will help her as the head coach. 

“I think her being the GA last year did help, because she got an idea of the personalities we all have and got to know us a lot better,” she said. “She knows how each of us act on the field and knows how to talk to us if we get down on ourselves.”

Dobbins also shared that Stauffer was able to help her improve her technique, which resulted in Dobbins’ first two goals of the season and her placing second in the team on draws.

Stauffer’s favorite memory from last year with the Edinboro team was their spring break trip, in which the team won two games. Stauffer was proud that “the girls came together to get the wins.” She called it her “first rewarding experience as a coach,” because she had helped them get to that point. The lacrosse team finished last season with a 3-13 record. 

Dobbins’ favorite memory of Stauffer also happened when they were on their spring break trip. Dobbins was still behind when the team’s bus started leaving, so Stauffer rushed back to help her carry her lacrosse gear. The team recorded videos as the two sprinted four blocks back to the bus. 

When asked about memories, Doucette responded: “I can’t think of my favorite memory with Leigh, but I know that when she was announced we were all excited. I remember calling her and just being relieved that she was going to stay. I also just love the culture she is creating, where we can have a relationship with her and that she always has an open-door policy.”

The effect Stauffer has on the team will be on display this season as they head into conference competition beginning Saturday at Millersville.

Erica Burkholder | voices.spectator@gmail.com

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