Knights girls lacrosse seniors help team build toward future
| 12:39 a.m. April 2, 2015
OCOEE — Despite a losing record this spring, the players, coaches and supporters of the Ocoee girls lacrosse team have their eyes locked on a successful future — even the Knights’ seniors, who won’t be around for it as players.
Senior captains Brooke Sprague and Andrea Penn have led by example for Ocoee (3-8), giving their all during games and practice. The two Knights have spent time ensuring their younger teammates are set up for success after they graduate this spring.
“(Sprague and Penn) hustle from end line to end line, giving their all every single game,” first-year coach Gabriela Chassagne said.
According to Chassagne, Penn and Sprague have different leadership styles, but the seniors work well in unison. While Sprague is outspoken and quick to help younger players, Penn is blunt with constructive criticism.
“I feel like I’ve helped these people become better players — be better people,” Penn said. “They communicate more. I feel like now we’re a team.”
Part of the struggles of the program are rooted in a lack of consistency. The Knights have gone through multiple coaches in recent years but still have managed to grow together.
“I feel like everybody has contributed,” Penn said. “I feel like even without (a consistent coaching situation), we’re all together.”
The two seniors have set their younger teammates up for success in the future while still trying to make some noise down the stretch of their final varsity season.
“It’s a really young team,” Sprague said. “They have a long way to go. I know that in the upcoming years, they’re going to be great players and they’re going to have a really strong team.”
As she grew into her leadership position, Sprague said she always had people to admire. Basing her outlook and leadership style on the people who led her, she hopes that she can give back in the way her mentors gave to her.
“That’s the impression that I want them to get from me, just to make sure that they hopefully step up and be like, ‘I want to be like her one day,’” Sprague said.
As a first year coach, Chassagne said one of her main coaching goals is to drive home the importance of mastering basic skills.
Picking up a lacrosse stick two years before she was recruited to play for Rollins College, Chassagne is, herself, a prime example of where hard work can take you.
“I don’t put this pressure on them to have to win,” Chassagne said. “I tell them, ‘I’m about learning.’”
The one thing that makes the first-year coach the most proud is knowing that one of her players is leaving with a skill they did not have — such as the ability to cradle the ball or score a goal.
And, in just her first year with the program, Chassange has guided the team as it has made significant improvements.
“I was looking at the record from last year, and looking at the record this year, their goal differentials are significantly better,” Chassagne said “When they’re projected to lose by 10,15 goals; they’re losing by three.”
With some potential to work with, Sprague and Penn have helped give Chassagne what she needs to lay the foundation for the future.