October 16, 2012

Middlebury, Missy Foote Remain Perfect Match 36 Years Later

by Justin Feil | LaxMagazine.com

"As soon as an issue comes up at the Division III level or the NESCAC, we're waiting to hear Missy's take on it," said Trinity (Conn.) coach Kate Livesay. "It really does shape how we think."

One of the greatest National Hall of Fame classes of all-time will be inducted this Saturday night at the Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Md. The 2012 induction class is comprised of Jen Adams, Roy Colsey, Brian Dougherty, Missy Foote, Kelly Amonte Hiller, Jesse Hubbard, Tim Nelson and Cindy Timchal. Each will take their place among the game's greatest at a black-tie optional, US Lacrosse event. Tickets are available here for Saturday and a Friday golf outing.

Check back to LaxMagazine.com all this week as we celebrate the eight inductees. Yesterday featured "The Immortals of Maryland."

As the daughter of a U.S. Navy pilot, Missy Foote grew up a migrant, never in one place for long. Her coaching career couldn't be any more different.

Foote has been a fixture at Middlebury since arriving there 36 years ago to coach field hockey, basketball and lacrosse, as well as teach sailing. She coached basketball five years and field hockey for 21 years. Next spring, Foote will embark on her 32nd season as the Panthers women's lacrosse coach. Success brought offers from Division I schools. She seldom entertained them.

"If you've ever been to Middlebury, Vermont, you might understand," Foote said. "I hike and Nordic ski and run and swim. That's what I do. I don't just coach lacrosse. It was a lifestyle decision for me. This is the place I want to be."

As a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), Middlebury embodied the same values Foote did. "We're looking for someone who's interested in doing a number of things, not just athletics, not just academics," Foote said. "That appeals to me. That's my lifestyle. I want to ski race. I want to hike. I'm interested in how my players are doing in their life."

Many of Foote's former players have remained in the game as coaches, a testament to her strong influence. Heidi Howard Allen, a former player and assistant at Middlebury, is now an assistant at NESCAC rival Bates.

"She coaches to people's strengths," Howard Allen said. "She became a mentor in my life. If I was ever at a crossroads, she's one of the first phone calls I make."

Foote also works as director of physical education, senior women's administrator and associate athletic director at Middlebury.

"She encouraged us to do other things." Howard Allen said. "A lot of girls played two sports. We were never banned from skiing or snowboarding. She loves the outdoors. She's one of the best athletes that I know. She still can beat someone in a run. She loves to exercise, be competitive and be healthy. You wonder how she does everything in a day."

* 2012 Hall of Fame Ceremony
* Purchase Tickets
* The Immortals of Maryland

Foote will be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame for her success as a lacrosse coach. She has gone 376-101-1 at Middlebury and won five NCAA Division III championships. She might have had more, but the NESCAC did not permit its members to compete in the NCAA tournament until 1994. Foote was among those who pressed the conference for their inclusion. She possessed a powerful voice.

"As soon as an issue comes up at the Division III level or the NESCAC, we're waiting to hear Missy's take on it," said Trinity (Conn.) coach Kate Livesay. "It really does shape how we think."

Livesay won two NCAA titles as a Middlebury player and employed Foote's zone defense to lead Trinity to its first NCAA championship in 2012.

"It was fun for me to watch Trinity win the national championship playing the zone we play," said Foote, whose Panthers fell to Salisbury in the semifinals. "The NESCAC has improved steadily in the last decade."

Foote's practices are taxing, and the Chipman Hill run remains a dreaded bonding experience for Middlebury players. But she said its pays off in "that ah-ha moment when it comes together for a group."

There have been a lot of those moments for Foote's teams, but it's just as much the people and the place as the winning that has kept her coaching into a fourth decade at Middlebury.

Said Foote: "I feel like I've built a family."

This article appears in the October issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.

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