May 6, 2020

Returning to Lacrosse After Brief Corporate Stint, PHS Grad Shane Takes Coaching Role at Harvard

BACK IN THE GAME: Mira Shane guards the net in a 2019 game during her senior season playing goalie for the University of Michigan women’s lacrosse team. After a superb career for the Wolverines, Princeton High grad Shane has returned to the game, joining the Harvard women’s lax program last fall as a volunteer coach. (Photo provided courtesy of Michigan Photography)

By Bill Alden

Mira Shane seemed to have it all after graduating from the University of Michigan last spring.

After a jam-packed four years in Ann Arbor which saw Shane star as goalie for the Michigan women’s lacrosse team, perform in the 58 Greene a cappella group, serve as the president of Michigan’s Athletes for Community Transformation, and oversee mental health initiatives for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, she landed a corporate job with Anheuser-Busch.

But after working a few months for the brewing giant at its headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., Shane decided something was missing in her life.

“I had all of these cool plans to do the corporate thing and it really didn’t end up being me which is totally OK,” said Shane, a girls’ lacrosse and basketball star for Princeton High who set Michigan program career records in wins (24), career saves (360), and career save percentage (.451), getting named as an Inside Lacrosse honorable mention All-American in her senior season as the Wolverines went 16-4.

“I realized three months in that this isn’t Mira. I need a little bit more energy, passion and something I really want to get up for every morning and I knew that was going to lie in lacrosse.”

Following that passion, Shane decided to get back into the game as a coach and ended up heading east to join the staff of the Harvard women’s lax team as a volunteer assistant, aided by a Michigan connection and admiration for Harvard head coach Devon Wills, a former All-American goalie for Dartmouth.

“Becca Block, who is an assistant at Harvard, was an assistant at Michigan so I already knew her,” said Shane.

“I have idolized Devon since I was a little fifth grade goalie finding my way. Devon was my idol and all of the rest is history; she was looking for a goalie coach slash volunteer assistant and it worked out.”

Joining the program last November, Shane’s main duties center on tutoring the Harvard goalies and providing inspiration to the squad collectively.

“I am helping the goalies as best I can and hopping in too from time to time at practice; I have still got it a little bit,” said Shane, who has a day job in Boston, handling the social media for Verb, an energy bar start-up.

“It takes a little while to warm up. I am a scout goalie for when Devon asks. I am just trying to bring some good positive vibes; it is a really great opportunity to be in the Ivy League. I would say that my overall motto of coaching is just channel the way that I played, so that was through energy and this high intensity of being loud and positive. The way I coach is kind of the way I played in that I want people to feel that same passion about the game that I did.”

Before the 2020 campaign was canceled in late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shane was all over the Boston area as she juggled her job at Verb with coaching.

“I try to get to practice four or five days a week and then catching our games during the weekend or even our games during the week,” said Shane.

“I am thankful for the T in Boston and my little moped that I had in Ann Arbor has now followed me to Boston. I was just leaving work early at 2:00 or 3:00 and busting it to practice by 3:00 or 4:00. I wanted to be as present as possible if I was going to make the coaching work with a full-time job.”

For Shane, working on the sideline during games proved to be a highlight for her.

“Game days are cool and exciting; every program is different so it was different than the Michigan program’s game day but equally as pumped with adrenaline,” said Shane.

“I was definitely animated. Somedays I would hold the iPad and try to do playbacks for offense or defense. I would also be right there with Becca alongside our defense. Devon and I would handle goalie warmup. It is just trying to give the energy where I can, giving some mega good vibes for our defense that works so hard in the season that we had.”

Utilizing her energy, Shane developed a ritual to celebrate Crimson goals.

“One of my main game day things was doing high fives on the sidelines after every goal scored with me and all of the other coaches,” said Shane.

“I would go to Devon and then Kenzie (assistant coach Kenzie Kent) and then Becca and then sometimes I would dance on the sidelines to get the girls going.”

Over the course of the season, Shane fine-tuned her coaching approach.

“I started to transition from being a player to what are the elements I can bring in from my game as a player to being a sturdy and reliable coach,” said Shane, who has been training goalies for years, giving private lessons through the Ultimate Lacrosse club and Miracle GoalKeeping, which she owns and operates.

“There are ups and downs with every game but as a coach it was a total learning experience to try to stay balanced and stay calm and positive for the other coaches alongside me.”

In Shane’s view, the Harvard squad was heading in a positive direction before the season was halted.

“I felt it hard core, we were making moves and I think we had really turned over a new leaf for the second part of the season and getting ready for Ivy League play,” said Shane, reflecting on a campaign that saw Harvard go 3-3 overall, with a tight 9-8 loss to Cornell in its only Ivy League contest.

“We were really starting to connect and finish. We knew that we had it and we were going to be winners. We were going to make statement wins coming up.”

Not getting to finish the 2020 campaign was a hard pill for the Crimson to swallow.

“I think it was heartbreaking for us and for everybody; sports are so important to how we keep hope in a lot of different things in our lives,” said Shane.

“It wasn’t going to be the season that we had hoped for so what we just told the girls was thank you; we had to go back to gratitude because they really did give it their all. For the part of the fall that I was there and in the season, I could see that they have made the connection of, OK, this is the team that we are going to be now. We just tried to go back to being thankful for having each other and for having our health in a really, really tough time. It was a bummer that the season ended so early and especially for our seniors. They worked so hard. All of us were so empathetic and sympathetic to them.”

In dealing with these tough times, the Harvard coaches and players are staying connected virtually.

“We are doing some Zoom meetings; we had a nice Zoom meeting last week where we met different pets of the household,” said Shane.

“We are keeping it light and fun for everybody involved. It has been good to stay in touch with the other coaches too and just make sure that everyone is keeping the spirits high as we progress through this time.”

Shane, for her part, is feeling a deeper sense of gratitude for all of the good things lacrosse has given her over the years.

“It has given me a whole new lens into why it is important to be thankful every day, having our health, and being able to gather and have a community in lacrosse and beyond that,” said Shane.

“I love the other coaches because those are relationships that I now have far beyond lacrosse. I am learning from the awesome players at Harvard too and how hard they work. I can’t thank the people enough, whether it was from Princeton High and all of those coaches and teammates and my teammates and coaches at Michigan that have molded me to be the coach and person that I am. It just gives me extreme focus to be thankful for why we play the game that we love and why we gather for any sports event and cheer on our favorite team.”