January 4, 2011

Munday Sees Similarities Between USC Now, Northwestern Then

by Clare Lochary | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

Lindsey Munday says her experience as a player and coach in the early stages of Northwestern's revival will pay dividends as the new head coach at start-up USC.

After a storied playing career at Northwestern and with Team USA, and a brief tenure in her first head coaching position at Mount St. Mary's, Lindsay Munday was named the first ever head coach of the University of Southern California's women's lacrosse program, which will take the field in 2013.

Munday checked in Monday with LMO to chat about her plans for the Women of Troy.

How did you make the decision to head West to the USC program after a year at Mount St. Mary's?
I had heard the program was being announced, and the timing of everything was really hard (with Munday just four months into her tenure as the coach at Mount St. Mary's), but USC was obviously something that was super interesting and exciting. Obviously, just getting hired at the Mount, initially it was even hard for me to think about it at all. I was extremely happy there and appreciative of the opportunity, but the USC thing happened pretty quickly. I went out there and visited it, and it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

What was it about USC that you found so irresistible?
Being able to start my own program and build it from the ground up. I was part of something really special that [Northwestern head coach] Kelly [Amonte Hiller] built and is still building and growing. To be able to do that as a coach, that's something that I had dreamed about when I first decided I wanted to coach.

Now that the hire is official, what's next on your to-do list?
I'm definitely going to be going kind of back and forth between the coasts, especially during the month of January. I'll just be getting engrossed in the university and the administration. I'll definitely be getting recruiting going and starting to build the team, and finding the student-athletes to build this program.

Will you hire any assistant coaches soon?
Not really. It might just be me for a little bit.

What will you look for in those first recruits?
The biggest thing with starting a program is just the belief and the attention of the student-athletes involved, being a part of all the firsts of a program. That attitude and that belief is going to be extremely important. Athletically, I want girls who are versatile and athletic and have the lacrosse aspect down. I think the talent level and athleticism in California right now is really off the charts.

Are you going to make it a priority to recruit locally, or will trawl the hotbeds looking for players who want to come out west?

I think it'll be a little bit of both. I've done a few camps and clinics out west, and I've gone out a little bit to recruit. It'll definitely be something I need to do, to build those relationships [with local coaches]. I'll want to hit the ground running and meet the local club coaches and teach as much as I can and grow the game.

On the other hand, USC is one of the most diverse universities in the country. Getting out there and bringing in student-athletes from the whole country will be great, and there's a local talent pool that's relatively untapped, which is really exciting. We're looking for student-athletes from all over.

Will you look internationally for players? USC could be a great spot to lure Aussie girls. It's relatively close to home for them.
I definitely think there are so many talented international players, which I know from being so close with [Team Australia star, Northwestern alum and Towson assistant coach] Hannah [Nielsen]. I definitely think it's not something I'll look past. USC is extremely diverse, so down the road, it could be something that we look into.

The USC job was a hot ticket in the coaching world – how did you convince the administration that you were the right one for the job?
I think it was being a part of Northwestern from the beginning, and being part of the second recruiting class there, and being a part of that program as it was growing and becoming what it is today, as a player and a coach. I can't thank Kelly and Scott [Hiller] enough. They've been with me through my whole career. Being part of something that was a start-up was something that was discussed [in interviews with USC]. If we can model something similar and have the kind of success that Northwestern has had, well, I'd be very happy.

How do you convince blue-chip players to take a chance on a new program? I'm sure you had tons of offers when you were a high school recruit. So many players choose to go to the powerhouse programs like Maryland or Virginia or Princeton, but you chose to take a different path.
[Laughs.] I actually wasn't a blue-chip recruit, so I didn't really have those options. I was a soccer player when I was young and picked up lacrosse later on. I was thinking maybe going DIII and maybe playing two sports when I started the college process. I was not highly recruited. Kelly saw me at a random camp in Boston. A friend of mine was like, "Hey, do you want to go to this camp?" and I was like, "Sure." Now whenever I think back, I think, "That one little lacrosse camp changed my life so much." So that's how I first got to know Kelly and once I'd gone out to Northwestern, it was pretty much a no-brainer. It's just so pretty there, and I wanted to be a part of something like that. And Kelly was so passionate and positive about where the program was going.

Start-ups aren't for everyone – some people find them draining and others find them invigorating. How do you keep your passion and positivity going?
I guess maybe that's how I am. I love lacrosse and I love teaching it, and I love the excitement around it. It's just exciting to be a part of the sport when it's in this stage right now. There are so many opportunities for so many girls. To start up a program is so exciting.

Are you excited about the move to California? Have you been there before?
I'm definitely excited for the move. I've been there maybe once or twice before. It'll be nice to be outside in the sun in the winter.

USC seems to have some pretty lofty ambitions for its women's lacrosse programs. Can you illuminate that a bit?
Historically, USC is such an accomplished athletic university. The programs they have are successful. This came directly from the university president and the athletic director. We'll be realistic to start, but I think the support is there, which is absolutely comforting for me. I think they understand that lacrosse is really growing right now, and there's a lot of opportunity to grow the USC brand. They saw the participation rates for lacrosse, and it was an easy decision.

Will you have a full scholarship count?
Yes. We will have full scholarship funding, although we won't award all the scholarships right away.

Have you called Notre Dame head coach Tracy Coyne to talk smack yet?
I have not yet, actually. I've been a little busy today.

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