Ann Elliott made history March 26 when she became head coach for the new CU women’s lacrosse program, which begins play in spring semester 2014. She comes to CU after being a player and assistant coach at perennial lacrosse powerhouse Northwestern University, winner of six NCAA titles between 2005-2011.
How special is it to start a program from scratch?
I think it’s incredibly special. I got to be a part of building a program at Northwestern as a player. I know how special it is to be part of such a foundation, something you know is going to be built upon year after year. So as a coach it is something I’ve always dreamed of.
Are there ways you can keep the inevitable growing pains to a minimum?
I’ve learned a lot from my experience at Northwestern as a player building the program and as a coach trying to sustain the success. The most important thing is to focus on each day, trying to get better each day. If you can do that, it makes things easier and the process fun and enjoyable. You encounter every challenge as something exciting, not as kind of a bump in the road. I look forward to seeing [CU’s team] grow into something hopefully great.
Is it difficult to leave a Northwestern program that’s at the top of the national rankings?
It’s definitely very difficult. I’ve kind of grown up there. I was at Northwestern for the last nine years as a player and coach. I was very attached to the program and to the university. I have a great mentor in Kelly [Amonte Hiller, the head coach] who’s done so much for me. I learned something new every day, and it was such a special group to be part of. But as far as the next step for me, I want to see what I can do as a head coach. Hopefully it’s creating something in Boulder as special as what’s at Northwestern.
What kind of reception have you received recruitingwise in starting a new program?
There’s a lot of interest. There’s definitely the attraction of starting a new program, as well as everything the school has to offer academically, in athletics and being in the tremendous location that Boulder is.
Was it a strange situation having several players already committed to the program when you were hired?
It might be a little unusual, but for me it was a great situation. I want to have a focus on the Colorado kids that already have that strong passion for CU, for the state of Colorado and for lacrosse. The more we can keep those kids in state and at CU, the better for us as we build our program. Colorado has some great athletes and some very talented lacrosse players.
How do you think a college lacrosse program will be received here as far as fan interest?
I think it’s going to be great. It seems like there’s a strong interest in women’s lacrosse, and that everyone is pretty supportive. We’re looking forward to getting as involved as we can across the community and generating even more interest in the sport and hopefully support for our program as well.
Why did you apply for the job?
Building a program has always been a dream of mine after my experiences at Northwestern, and I couldn’t think of a better place than Colorado and Boulder. The whole thing seemed perfect for me. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity.
Will you pick the brain of the Northwestern coach as you build the program at CU?
Definitely. Kelly obviously has a wealth of information, and she built the program herself, so I will use her as a resource and stay in contact. The other person is Lindsey Munday, one of my good friends who’s out at USC. I played with her at Northwestern and worked alongside her as an assistant coach. She became head coach at USC [in January 2011], so she’s about a year ahead in terms of the process of building a program. So between Kelly and Lindsey I do have a lot of good resources to help me to build a great program.