On May 30, Boston College women’s lacrosse coach Acacia Walker-Weinstein completed a journey that she took on in earnest nine years ago, but one that had been going on well before that.
BC won its first NCAA lacrosse title by beating Syracuse in the championship game in Towson, Md. A week later, top player Charlotte North was honored with the Tewaaraton Award, presented to the best player in NCAA lacrosse.
Walker-Weinstein joined “Chasing The Goal” podcast host Jack Piatelli and laxjournal.com staff writer Kyle Devitte to reflect on that championship journey, and talk about the kind of players she wants to continue BC’s reign.
The full podcast can be accessed below.
Kyle Devitte: Charlotte North announced she’s coming back (for a fifth season). You also have one of the best recruiting classes coming in. When did you sense that you could attract players at an elite level to Boston College.
Acacia Walker-Weinstein: I have to give credit to my assistant coach, Jen Kent. She and the old coach, Bowen Holden, actually got Covie Stanwick and Mikaela Rix to come. They were two of the biggest names, the biggest family names in lacrosse, and that was before I got there. The two of them sort of paved the way. Once the two of them took a chance on coming to Boston College, instead of a UNC or a Maryland … that sort of put us in position to recruit players of that caliber.”
Jack Piatelli: You bring in a lot of big recruits. Bringing superstars onto your team like that, what do you look for?
AW: We love unselfish kids. We don’t want the egotistical kids. We don’t want necessarily the All-Stars on every single team. We want the kids that are unselfish. That kind of molds everyone together. When things get hard, if everyone is unselfish, you figure it out. If people are not unselfish, you can crack the system.
And it’s been that way for years. Sam Apuzzo, Mikaela Rix, all the stars that we’ve had. Kenzie Kent — she’s the most unselfish kid on the planet and she was a superstar. I think because they’re unselfish, the players around them play hard for them, and vice versa. That’s what makes it really difficult to stop.
That’s what I told the parents at the tailgate. I wish you guys would write a book on how you raise your kids. Here they are on the biggest stage and it’s just about each other. It’s remarkable. I give credit to the parents.
JP: You had a great career at Maryland. You went on to play for Team USA. What changes have you seen in the training and the demands on the players?
AW: The first thing that comes to mind is the emphasis on lifting. When I was in college we lifted but I don’t know if we understood that it was about injury prevention. It was about being able to protect yourself in this physical game. As the years have gone on and you’re looking at people like Charlotte North — how are you going to protect yourself from a Charlotte North? How are you going to defend a Charlotte North? You better have a strong butt, you better have strong quads, you better have sick calves …
JP: Or run the other way …
AW: Or run the other way. But I think the biggest emphasis has been on the understanding of what lifting does to protect yourself and, honestly, it takes your game to the next level. I’ve seen it very clearly.
KD: You’ve seen the women’s game change so much — boundaries, teams playing stall ball, no goggles, wooden sticks. Now you have a shot clock and teams playing this exciting offensive style. What’s the most significant change you’ve seen?
AW: Definitely the shot clock. When I was with Kelly (Amonte Hiller) at Northwestern we won championships sometimes by stalling. That was the greatest tactic at the time, the smartest thing to do. But ever since the shot clock everything has become way more exciting. Games are closer and higher-scoring. It’s great for the viewers, great for the fans and great for the players. I think it pushes all the coaches in their tactics and strategies at the end of tight games. It just makes us all be better. Players have to be better, coaches have to be better, officials have to be better.