Editorial: Onward and Upward for Women’s Lacrosse

Phoebe Hammer and Madeleine O'Meara

Have you ever been dumped? Have you experienced that combination of worthlessness and anger? That’s kind of what it feels like.

On the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 5, the women’s lacrosse team was summoned to the Heisman Room in Philips Gym for a mandatory 8 a.m. meeting. When we saw the imposing figure of our new athletic director, William Roth, we exchanged nervous glances — what could we have done to warrant a meeting with him? He announced that our coaches would be telling us something important.

After several minutes of anxious chatter, Head Coach Liz Longley and Assistant Coach Kate Fowler, former teammates at Hamilton College, entered the room.

“I have a pretty serious announcement,” Liz began. “I have been offered and have accepted a head coaching position at Connecticut College, and I’m taking Kate with me. My first day is October 17.”

The announcement cut through the room like a thunderclap. For the next hour, with the help of each other and two rolls of stolen toilet paper from a nearby bathroom, we dealt with the shock of losing our coach and mentor.

Have you ever been ditched because your significant other found a new, more appealing person? For Oberlin women’s lacrosse, the New England Small College Athletic Conference, Connecticut College’s conference, is that other person.

Known for powerhouse teams and an elitist attitude, NESCAC culture stands in stark contrast to Oberlin’s. As an added twist to stabbing us in the back, we later learned that Liz had applied for the position over the summer and kept her job at Oberlin as a back up plan. With her announcement, it became clear that the NESCAC was always the ultimate goal for Liz, and that we were just a small stepping stone in her career.

Were you ever dumped in the midst of prom season? Just when everyone was buying their new dresses and booking limos? Finding a good coach in October is like finding a prom date the night before the dance. We are in the middle of our fall practices, and most other teams are in peak recruiting season as well.

Liz had called us into the Heisman Room earlier in the year, explaining that our team was a family and this outlook needed to begin with fall practice. The last thing she said before we left the room was, “I am making this commitment to you, and I need you all to make this commitment back to me.” Apparently, her definition of commitment was quite different from ours.

Being dumped hurts, but if you’ve ever been dumped, you know that there’s always someone there to pick you up. The support for women’s lacrosse in the last two weeks has come from every corner of Oberlin. William Roth, a man we were all initially reluctant to accept, has spent countless hours with our team to ensure that we will no longer be someone’s stepping stone. From holding personal meetings with us to bringing President Krislov to our practice to give us a pep talk, it is evident that Roth cares deeply about our team and about the Athletics department as a whole.

Other figures in the Athletics department have also come out of the woodwork to show their support for our team. Natalie Winkelfoos, the associate director of Athletics, has been instrumental in the healing process, providing the proverbial chocolate and chick-flicks to our heartbroken team. Women’s lacrosse has never felt so loved, and as we’ve walked down the halls of Philips we’ve had coaches and players from every team ask if there was anything they could help with.

No one has gone more out of their way than men’s lacrosse Head Coach Topher Grossman and Assistant Coach Zach Iannucci. Without hesitation, they took over our fall practices, picked up our recruits from the airport and gave them campus tours, all while still coaching and recruiting for their own team. Although they might not have known what they were signing up for, they have emerged as that cousin who takes you to prom because no one else would.

Although being single again can be scary, life is more exciting when you’re back on the market. In the past week, the Athletics department has worked to put together a committee to find a new coach for us. We are optimistic that we will find someone who embraces the Oberlin culture the way our former coach could not. Liz told us that we were a family, but it wasn’t until last week that we realized who that family really is and how much they actually care.