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New girls lacrosse coach fosters passion for sport

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Girls lacrosse faced a problem as the 2023 season approached: the team had no coach. However, the problem was resolved when Kaitlin Chiu, a former Paly lacrosse player who graduated in 2017 and was a Division III player at Smith College, stepped in.

Chiu said she became a coach to return her gratitude to the Paly lacrosse program while pursuing her passion for the sport. Chiu also said a former lacrosse coach allowed her to pursue this opportunity.

“I felt like the Paly program really gave me a lot and allowed me to pursue my passion for lacrosse,” Chiu said. “I owe a lot to (former coach) Jamie Nesbitt for allowing me the chance to go and play in front of a huge platform, essentially giving me a lot of exposure, and so I felt I owed it to Paly lacrosse to come back and dedicate my time.”

During the pandemic, Chiu was unable to compete in college lacrosse. She said she wanted to make up for the lost time by sharing her knowledge and experience with the team.

“I’ve had one or two club seasons under my belts, and so I figured I’ve learned a little bit,” Chiu said. “I’ve seen how others coach, and I’ve also had plenty of other coaches that I look up to. I wanted to take that knowledge and impart that on the girls at Paly.”

The team also had trouble finding JV coaches, which left many players including junior Aspen Stitt feeling worried.

“It was pretty stressful especially because it took us so long to get JV coaches,” Stitt said. “If we didn’t get one, JV would have been discontinued, and we would have had to cut people from the team,”

Despite the obstacles the team faced, Stitt said she is hopeful this season will reflect positively on the team and the new coach.

“Kaitlin has helped our team grow through individual strength and team energy,” Stitt said. “We are all learning a lot from her every day, and I am so excited to see how we develop as a team throughout the season.”

Junior Gabby Loops said the team dynamic has improved from last year when the team had two coaches who employed different training styles.

“Last year, we had two coaches on varsity who were more intense, which was good, but this year’s energy feels better,” Loops said. “Kaitlin is a very supportive coach who brings good energy to the team, so we are very happy to have her.”

Chiu said she wants to bring her passion for the sport to the team, inspiring players to feel that same passion through creating a tight-knit community.

“The program at Paly impacted me, so I want to give that back to the girls and try to create a really fun community that is driven towards not necessarily just winning, but playing for the love of the sport,” she said.

Chiu said she hopes to model a commitment to the girls through the expectations she sets. She said she sets rules for practice, such as being punctual.

“I want us all to start on time,” Chiu said. “That’s a hard rule that we show up to practice and we’re ready to go because we only have one and a half hours three times a week to work together as a team and learn about each other and how we play.”

Additionally, Chiu said she hopes to become a role model for her players as she has undergone the same academic challenges and can relate to her players. She also said she hopes to create an environment where the girls can forget their stresses, have fun and learn when they step on the field.

“As soon as you walk onto the field, you’re here to have fun,” Chiu said. “You’re here to learn, you’re here to play a sport that you are super interested in and one day you will maybe learn to love (it) if not already.”

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