Drawing on Experience as Multi-Sport Star at TCNJ, Jaeger Excited to Take Helm of Hun Girls’ Lacrosse
By Bill Alden
Starring at soccer, track, and lacrosse for Hunterdon Central helped put Kathleen Jaeger on the path to coaching.
“I was just very fortunate to go to a high school where sports were so competitive,” said Jaeger.
“That is what led me into coaching because I want to give that opportunity to other people.”
In order to achieve that goal, Jaeger headed to The College of New Jersey where she studied special education and competed in cross country, indoor track, and lacrosse from 2015-19.
Jaeger’s experience with the school’s powerhouse lacrosse program influenced her approach to coaching.
“One of my main takeaways is the team itself, the environment that was created among the girls,” said Jaeger, who was an All-American in both lacrosse and track at TCNJ, tallying 169 goals in lax, tied for the 15th-most in program history, and excelling in the 800 on the track.
“That is an aspect I wanted to make sure that I carry with me to teams that I coach in future. Each year it was a different group of starters but everyone on the team came together. It was just so impactful.”
This spring, Jaeger is applying those lessons as she takes the helm of the Hun School girls’ lacrosse team.
“Being at Hun and knowing that so many people play multiple sports has made me so excited about the program there,” said Jaeger, who is a sixth grade special education math teacher at the Princeton Unified Middle School.
“Athletics is so important overall to the community. Most of the kids play another sport and if it is not another sport at the school, they are playing a club sport. It was a perfect fit, not only the location but the community has been so welcoming and so supportive. It has been an awesome start to the year. I am very excited for what is to come.”
Jaeger is looking to build a supportive culture within the lax program.
“One of my biggest beliefs is building that whole program community and that positive environment,” said Jaeger.
“We have been really focused on that all preseason leading into this first week.”
As the squad has gone through preseason, Jaeger has seen a positive response from her players.
“One theme we have been following is how lucky and fortunate we are to be on the field and start as early as we did,” said Jaeger, whose team was slated to open the 2021 campaign by hosting Peddie on April 6 and the Blair Academy on April 9.
“We are not taking anything for granted, and I think that shows in the girls’ mentality. They come to practice so excited and eager to be there, especially because they missed that time last year. There are a lot of freshmen too and I think that has been so exciting. The energy is great.”
The team’s pair of seniors, midfielder Anna Hyson and goalie Gabby Cattani, have been bringing energy at both ends of the field.
“Anna has done a beautiful job on the field of bringing everyone together, so I see her as a dominating force in the midfield really taking control,” said Jaeger.
“Her leadership has been absolutely amazing in the preseason. She and the other senior, Gabby, who is in goal, are really setting the tone with their hard work and dedication. Gabby is a very vocal leader on the field, both as a senior and as a goalie, bringing everyone together.”
Noting that the Hun squad features a core of younger performers, Jaeger likes her group’s potential.
“We have a bunch of strong players,” said Jaeger. “We have some sophomores coming out, we have some freshmen and both of our upperclassman groups are pretty small,” said Jaeger.
“I am really excited to see who steps up once the games start because I think we have a lot of different capabilities.”
In order to best utilize those capabilities, Jaeger is focusing on developing fundamentals and creativity.
“One of the biggest things is the execution of everything we have been working on,” said Jaeger.
“We have been breaking down a lot of skills in terms of them building back up and bringing it all together. I am excited to see the aspect of the teamwork and overall communication. The common themes we have been stressing all preseason are coming to practice, being ready to compete, trying new things and seeing what sticks and what we need to move on from. They are always willing to step in and try something new. I could not be more thankful from a coach’s perspective.”