Vol. LXI, No. 33
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Theresa Sherry, left, races up the field during her stellar career with the Princeton University women's lacrosse team. Sherry, a 2004, Princeton graduate, was recently named as the head coach of the University of California women's lacrosse team. Sherry, who is fourth all-time in scoring at Princeton with 197 points, was an assistant coach for the Golden Bears this past spring.
It started with an e-mail out of the blue in early 2005.
Unfulfilled by her day job working for a food supplier in Western Massachusetts, Theresa Sherry, a former women's lacrosse All-American for Princeton University, decided that she wanted to get back into the game.
Sherry e-mailed the Amherst College women's lax coach Chris Paradis, seeing if she could help out as a volunteer coach. Sherry's timing proved to be impeccable as Paradis responded by informing the gifted midfielder that preseason practice was starting that day and she was welcome to pitch in.
It didn't long for Sherry to conclude that she wanted to throw herself into coaching full time.
"I was going to the business job but I was looking forward to coaching," said Sherry. "I really liked the interaction with the student-athletes. I realized that coaching was what I loved and wanted to do."
Sherry followed her heart and took the plunge into full-time coaching, heading west in 2006 to take a job as an assistant coach with the University of California women's lacrosse team.
Last month, Sherry took a major step in her ascent up the coaching ladder, getting promoted to the head coaching position at Cal in the wake of the retirement of Jill Malko.
The 25-year-old Sherry was initially hesitant to put her hat in the ring for the Cal head job.
"At first, I wasn't sure whether I should put my name in," said Sherry, who helped the Tiger women's lax team win national titles in 2002 and 2003.
"I really cared about the players, I developed an attachment to the girls. I put together a good packet and prepared well for the interview. I think the administration liked the fact that there would be continuity."
Just because Sherry is young, doesn't mean that she hasn't been around the block athletically.
"I have had a lot of experience in a few years," asserted Sherry, who also starred for the Princeton women's soccer team.
"I won a world lacrosse championship at the age of 17. I won two NCAA titles and I played soccer. I had eight seasons of college sports; that has prepared me well for the ups and downs of the season."
There will be a steep learning curve for Sherry as she deals with heavy responsibility of her new role.
"The biggest challenge will be the administrative stuff," said Sherry, who is from Baltimore, Md. but has spent a lot of time in Northern California over the years visiting relatives in Marin County. "I'll have to learn to work within a budget. I feel like I have the support of the administration."
Sherry plans to bring the same feistiness to the challenge that she showed as a three-time first-team All-American for the Tigers.
"I feel like the scrappy freshman who isn't afraid of the upperclassmen," said Sherry with a laugh. "I'm not scared; I'm excited to have the job and put the work in."
Part of that work will entail some hands-on coaching as Sherry imparts the wisdom she gained during her career at Princeton. She scored 197 points at that time, the fourth most in program history.
"I think my strength is working with individual skills and mentality," said Sherry. "I work on teaching those skills. I like being able to articulate something and seeing the players use it. It's really fun to watch that. I'll jump into some of the sprints and beat some of them. They know I'm not asking them to do things I haven't done. I can show them what to do."
It will also be fun for Sherry to deal with the players off the field. "When I was in college, it wasn't just about what what went on around the field," said Sherry. "The coach has to be a parent, therapist, and business person. I will be able to use all facets of my personality."
Sherry is ready to draw on all her resources as she looks to spark a Cal program that is coming off two straight losing campaigns, having gone 7-10 this past spring and 8-11 in 2006.
"We need to turn it around and have a winning season," maintained Sherry. "We need to make the program consistent. We are going to get an an automatic qualifier bid for the west in 2009 and I want us to eventually be a national contender."
A key part of that process will revolve around Sherry's recruiting efforts on both coasts.
"We don't have the coaching at the youth and high school level out here but the sport is spreading," said Sherry, noting that the program has two recruits coming in from the Denver area.
"We need to educate the east coast kids; some of them don't know what a good school Cal is and that it is the top-ranked public university in the country. It is like getting an Ivy League education."
Sherry will draw on her Ivy league experience, turning to Princeton head coach Chris Sailer as a mentor.
"Chris is good at taking talented players and molding them into a solid unit," said Sherry. "We're going to start with things under our control; improving stick skills and doing basic drill. I will be calling on Chris a lot; she has already helped me a lot in this process."
Ultimately, Sherry would like to see Cal be the Princeton of the west in lacrosse circles.
"These girls want to do well in the class and on the field," said Sherry. "I can relate to that; I expect greatness."
After achieving greatness on the field, Sherry is on the fast track to making an impact from the sideline.
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