Club Women

March 25, 2010
Mayhem his hard in the desert of Scottsdale, Ariz., where 100-degree heat greeted the top 16 teams of the Women's Division Intercollegiate Associates (WDIA) -- and where Virginia Tech surged to its first-ever national title. © Steve DeMeo/
Mayhem his hard in the desert of Scottsdale, Ariz., where 100-degree heat greeted the top 16 teams of the Women's Division Intercollegiate Associates (WDIA) -- and where Virginia Tech surged to its first-ever national title. © Steve DeMeo/

WDIA Champs Ready to Throw Down in A-Town

by David Ely | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online | WDIA Top 25 Poll

To say senior Bri Beach has a full plate these days would be a gross understatement.

The president of the Virginia Tech Club team -- as well as the four other club officer -- plays both the role of team leader on the field and team administrator off it.

Not only does she play, but she also helps run practices. She fundraises, plans schedules and works out the Hokies' travel logistics.

Beach estimates that she spends about 18 hours per week (about nine of them playing, the rest earmarked on the administrative side) on lacrosse, and that’s on top of a regular semester’s worth of classes.

Why is Beach’s life so much more complex than, say, a team captain on No. 1-ranked Santa Clara?

Santa Clara has a coach to handle all the other details involved in running a successful program. Virginia Tech does not.

The Hokies are on their own, and they like it that way.

“From the playing standpoint … I think it works really well,” Beach said Tuesday while doing team-related paper work. “It’s easier for us to coach ourselves. We get to know the players really well, and you know who plays better together.”

Beach said that because she and the other officers also play, it’s easier for them to figure out what lineups are most effective than for someone watching from the sidelines, removed from the action.

But there is a fine line on which Beach must carefully tread.

Someone with the title of coach, a person who’s a clear-cut authority figure, can make hard decisions without worrying as much about chemistry and feelings.

A coach can remove himself or herself from the team and decide who should get playing time and who shouldn’t. It’s harder to make those decisions when you’re dealing with teammates and friends.
“That’s hard,” Beach said. “There’s times where it is hard to distance yourself from stuff. But the fact that you’re elected into the position -- I guess you could relate it to being a class president -- they know that you have some sort of authority.

“There are definitely some times where it’s difficult.”

Beach said that the Hokies try to relieve tensions by making sure everyone plays.

The player-run system definitely is working.

The Hokies won the 2009 WDIA National Championship with a 17-9 victory over Colorado. They were the only team without a traditional coach to make Nationals.

Virginia Tech began this season ranked No. 1 in the nation has jumped out to an 8-0 record this year. The Hokies are currently  ranked No. 13 because of a soft schedule to start the season.

They will get a chance this weekend to see how they stack up against some of the nation’s elite.

Virginia Tech travels to Athens, Ga., for the A-Town Throwdown, where it will play No. 6 Colorado, No. 10 Florida Club, No. 11 Colorado State and No. 9 Georgia.

The program’s recent success has earned the Hokies some respect and admiration from the WDIA community.

“It’s very very impressive to see them play well without a coach,” Santa Clara coach Brendan O’Brien said. “It’s very impressive to see them travel without a coach.”

Impressed, yes. But is O’Brien surprised to see a team without a coach be one of the best in the nation?

“Am I surprised? No,” he said. “I think some coaches are more involved than others. Some programs are very much player-run, and they’re successful.”

But despite all of their success and the fact that Beach and the other club officers share many of the same responsibilities as coaches, Beach said that she doesn’t think other WDIA coaches necessarily view them as peers.

That’s OK, though, because they don’t either.

“We’re definitely not coaches, but we’re more than players,” Beach said. “There’s some sort of middle ground.

“My vice president [Diane Revalski] just said we’re ‘captains on steroids.’”

WDIA Notes

The second WDIA Division II Poll was announced March 16. Here are the rankings: 1. California Club, 2. UNC Club, 3. Univ. of San Diego, 4. Texas State, 5. Denver Club, 6. Southern Methodist (SMU), 7. Georgia Tech, 8. Arizona, 9. St. Benedict, 10. Oakland, 11. Sonoma State, 12. Vermont, 13. UC San Diego, 14. Western Washington, 15. Georgetown Club, 16. St. Thomas, 17. Gustavus Adolphus, 18. Chapman, 19. College of New Jersey and 20. Wyoming… In Division I play, No. 1 Santa Clara hosts No. 5 UC Davis on April 3. UC Davis coach Erica Jue said the game could really establish her team as a legitimate Nationals threat. “I do. I think that. That could be huge for us.”

comments powered by Disqus

More Headlines