Blogs and Commentary

posted 07.30.2012 at 12.38 p.m. by Kelly McNelis

BC's McNelis: Hard to Walk in the Coach's Shoes

Kelly McNelis

"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." - Michael Jordan

First off, I would like to give a warm welcome to our new assistant coach at Boston College: Alex Frank!

With the end of July comes the close of another summer club lacrosse season. This summer was my first time coaching a club team, and I really enjoyed it. I knew leading a group of 20 rising high school freshmen was not going to be easy, but I was up for the challenge.

Our first play day was on June 3, and we only had a few practices to prepare. Despite this, I was still excited to see how the team would perform in an actual game. At the tournament's end, I realized our team still had some hurdles to overcome. Some of these hurdles included staying focused, trusting each other and playing as a unit. With our next tournament quickly approaching, I felt panicked to act quickly. I had to figure out a way to develop a group of girls into a team.

This prompted me to think back to when I played with my summer club team. What stood out most in my mind was how my many coaches over the years made me feel. I knew then I would have to build a positive relationship between the players and myself. Between icebreakers and fun practices, we were able to establish a trust between each other. The team became more willing to listen and eager to learn. By coming together as a team, we were able to clearly understand what was expected from one another as individuals, a team and a coach. Keeping an open mind and asking questions would help to maintain a mutual trust among us. This trust ultimately made us stronger, which helped our team have a successful summer.

I feel coaching not only allowed me to instruct, but it also enabled me to learn. Sometimes you have to walk in someone else's shoes to understand what their actual role and responsibilities are. Reflecting back on my own club years, at 15 years old, I felt I was focused, committed to play and eager to learn. What I did not realize then but can fully appreciate now is you have to truly love what you are doing and also have a great amount of patience to teach and mentor. Anyone can draw X's and O's, but in order to execute, you must gain your players trust and be a leader. Skill can only take a team so far but with trust everyone benefits. The more dedicated and inspirational you are as a coach will eventually be emulated by your players, forging a bond to be victorious in the end. To have a true team, everyone needs to be able to communicate, be committed and have a passion to succeed. I hope I was able to convey that message to my summer team.

Fortunately for me, this is what my team, coaches and I have at Boston College.


"You will never win if you never begin." - Robert H. Schuller

Look for more blogs from Kelly regularly on For more about Kelly, check out her bio at the Boston College women's lacrosse website.