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Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Cardinal Couple -- Lacrosse Interview with Kellie Young

CARDINAL COUPLE recently had the chance to interview head Louisville Lacrosse coach Kellie Young. We appreciate the chance to provide our readers this exclusive interview with coach and here it is in it's entirety:

CARDINAL COUPLEYour team is ranked tied for sixth in the preseason BIG EAST poll. Is this about what you expected?

COACH YOUNG:  It's what I expected but it's certainly not what we are. Being sixth in the BIG EAST is certainly below standard. That's where we were last year. We had a huge culture shift within the program and removed a number of players who weren't on board with who we are and where we want to go. It's a reflection of last year and not where or who be want to be this year. So, we take it now day by day and use that #6 ranking to show it's a huge understatement of what we're going to be. The opponents we face in the BIG EAST are monumental. And, that's an exciting thing. You have to be able to beat the best to become a champion. Syracuse played last year in the national championship game. They lost a close battle. They'll be moving to the ACC with us. Notre Dame historically is a powerhouse in Lacrosse and they're joining us in the ACC also. Georgetown...the same thing. I had coached at Georgetown years ago and had some championship teams up there. They may have not returned to that venue but they're still a very challenging opponent. Loyola, another top ten team, is a historic program out of Maryland, which is a hotbed for our sport. They have the pickings of whoever they want, just to leave high school and come next door to play in college. Other good teams are Rutgers and UConn and they gave us challenges last year.

CARDINAL COUPLE: When most people think of Louisville Lacrosse last year the name Nikki Boltja comes to mind. All-region last year and a preseason All-BIG EAST pick this year. Talk a little about her...

COACH YOUNG: Nikki is the definition of a work-horse. She truly is on the field, on her own, just about every day. My office overlooks the field, so I get to see whose out there and she is a constant. Whether it's shooting a bag of balls on her own, working on her dodges with the coaching staff, working on plays with her teammates...she really does do it all. She is a competitor. Her emotional drive to win is why she scores so many goals. But it's not about personal attainment with her. Not about how much she scores but about what helps this team. Her emotion, her passion for this game is what drives her every day. She is someone who shows up at practice every day emotionally, mentally and physically ready to go. And, she's a great kid. A great student-athlete.

CARDINAL COUPLE: Would you consider her the team leader of the squad?

COACH YOUNG: No, and that's the interesting thing. She is a leader by what she does but she is a very quiet kid. At least around the coaching staff. She's not very quiet when she goes back to housing. (Laughter) She doesn't need to speak, she's going to do it through her actions. Her teammates are inspired by how hard she goes. But she isn't really driving anyone else. Our leader is really Janave Dzikewich. She is our sixth year senior. She's had three ACL injuries but is now playing better than ever. We did have to petition to have her come back for the sixth year. We were granted that and we are just so thrilled we have her again. She is the main reason our culture has changed. Just raising the bar, expectations on and off the field. In the classroom. A vocal leader every game. She sees things so well on the defensive end. People just follow her and do what she tells them to do.

CARDINAL COUPLE: Katie Oliverio returns for her senior season after sitting out last year with an injury. Talk about what her return to the team means.

COACH YOUNG: She is in better shape now than when she hurt herself. She's part of our offensive attack, so she'll be attacking 95% of the time. She's fast! She'll also help us re-defend. What Katie brings is that she's also one of our leaders, one of our tri-captains. She's our emotional leader. Janae Dzikewich is the driver, Katie is the voice. She's so passionate about what she does, about returning. She's like a point-guard in basketball, seeing things that other people don't see. She can dodge from the top, feed from anywhere around the eight. I'm really impressed with how she's returned and recovered from such a major injury.

CARDINAL COUPLE: It looks like I'll need to brush up on some lacrosse terms before the season starts...

COACH YOUNG: (Laughter)

CARDINAL COUPLE: Discuss the eight new freshmen and one red-shirt freshmen. Are there any of them that will step in and have an immediate impact on the team?

COACH YOUNG: Absolutely. The first year class has been so important in helping change our culture, along with Janave. When you're building a program in the midwest, there's not a history or culture out here about the sport. This is the first class...from top to bottom...that has true lacrosse players in it. We've had a lot of good athletes in the past, but we were teaching them the game. This class knows the game. Kay Morrisette, from Canada, was the captain of the U19 World Cup team for Canada...a big, powerful player. You look at her and you know she's an athlete. She'll be taking the draw for us at the start of every game or goal. You just want to get out of her way. She's had a great influence on us in the fall practices and fans will notice her right away. Cortnee Daley is a high school All-American out of Philadelphia. She's a gritty, doesn't take 'no' for an answer, player who will chase you down. She has that "I'm going to grind this out" attitude, I'm going to win this game."
She has an arrogance out there, but she's a great kid.

You see our freshman out there every day, doing the work and if your a junior, you're thinking to yourself...I better step it up and do the work as well, because I don't want them taking my spot! We've got other freshmen beside Kay and Cortnee fighting for starting spots, too. We could have a potential of four freshmen starting for us.

CARDINAL COUPLE: Impressive! I'm guessing Morrisette is no relation to pop singer Alannis Morrisette?

COACH YOUNG: She is apparently! (Laughter) I have never asked her that, but they're second cousins or something. My director of operations knows more about that relationship than I do.

CARDINAL COUPLE: I guess we know what the pre-game and post-game recorded music will be this year...

COACH YOUNG: ( Laughter ) Exactly!

CARDINAL COUPLE: A wide range of geography location for the players on the roster this year, but none from Louisville. Talk about that and the talent level here on the high school.

COACH YOUNG: It's improving at a rapid pace here in Louisville. We've run a ton of camps, encourage club teams. One player has recently gone up to play Division I from here to Harvard. The players graduating now have a great work ethic and will have a big impact on DII and DIII lacrosse. They could probably play at DI schools, but will have an IMPACT at DII and DIII schools. We're starting to see some talent very possible for us to recruit here local from sophomores down to seventh and eight grade levels now. That wasn't there before.

CARDINAL COUPLE: Talk to us about the upgrade and competition level when you go to the ACC next season.

COACH YOUNG: It's pretty similar. A lot of our current opponents battle with UNC, Duke and UVA. The ACC might
be a slight step ahead. It's not dramatic. For us, it's moving from one great conference to another. Where we'll benefit it that a lot of the ACC teams are located in the hotbed for high school lacrosse. We can go to kids and tell may not have been recruited by UNC, Duke or UVA, but you'll get a chance to play them, and your parents and friends may be only a few hours away from those games when we go there to play. It's a historic conference and they've been in existence since the start of D1 Lacrosse.

CARDINAL COUPLE: How important is the Louisville name, the Louisville brand when you're out on the recruiting trail?

COACH YOUNG: It's huge. When your trying to convince a family to send their daughter away from home, this far away from home...the brand does attract them and a lot of our marketing materials stress the successes of Louisville athletics. Final four appearances, Sugar Bowl. We tell them to watch our teams on TV, how they are excelling and our fantastic fan base at home games. The piece at the end that really seals the deal, when you talk about Tom Jurich's vision. The humble and hungry philosophy of giving back for all you have received. We talk about the community service commitment that he installs in all of us. Parents are really inspired by that. They see their daughter is not just only going to be a Division I athlete, we want her to be a great student. She's going to give back to the community.

CARDINAL COUPLE: Give us a first-time fan primer of lacrosse.

COACH YOUNG: Think about basketball without the arena or hoop. Watch how we move the ball in transition. How we set plays. How we defend. How we score. We set picks for players. We drive from the top to score. We can run man-to-man defenses or zones. We press and try to force opponent's offenses into turnovers. Watch the power of the players on the field and listen to the leadership and help they're sharing with each other.

( We appreciate Coach Young's remarks and practices are open to the public. Louisville begins the season with three straight home games....Canisius on Sunday, Feb. 3rd., and Ohio State and Old Dominion on Saturday Feb. 9th and 16th. Join us out there! )

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