Tracey Edson and Katie Cappelletti
The Jamesville-DeWitt High School Varsity Girls Lacrosse Program team has a new head coach, Stephanie Rice. After being an assistant coach to the varsity team, she has now been promoted to the head coaching position. This will be her third year with the Red Rams, but first year as head coach.
Along with having a new head coach, the team has a new assistant coach, as well as a returning assistant coach. Coach Rice will be assisted by Megan Murphy, who is new, and Jeff Matt, who is returning for his second year. Coach Murphy played DI lacrosse at St. Bonaventure, and is part owner of Urban Life Crossfit. “She brings a different mindset and… she’s a good role model in terms of fitness,” said Coach Rice. Coach Matt grew up playing lacrosse and is coaching the offense this year. “He’s really good with the kids and is always very positive,” said Coach Rice.
With a new coaching staff the team will approach the season differently. “We have a great foundation of coaches and we have a lot of talent and younger kids who are rising to the occasion,” said one of the four senior captains, Jillian Risavi, who plays attack and the midfield positions. The girls returning to the team are looking forward to a successful season with their new teammates as well as with their new coaches. “Rice is a really good coach, she’s a lot more organized than we were last year, so practice is super efficient,” said senior midfielder Katie Lutz, who is also a captain.
The season is just getting started, but the team is preparing for the challenging games they will play. Their biggest in-league game is against Fulton and they will also face West Genesee and Fayetteville-Manlius, which will be non-league games. “I think we need to have a lot of progressional goals, first we have to win leagues, then win sectionals, then states,” said Coach Rice. “We’re focusing on improving ourselves so we can be the best we can be, in June.”
Although they have not been able to get on the turf much, they are continuing to practice everyday whether it be in the gym, the parking lot, or 481 Sports. The season opener is set for April 3, against Oswego at 7 p.m on the J-DHS turf.
Though this is her first head coaching position in New York, lacrosse has always played a major role in her life, because of her family. Coach Rice first started playing with her siblings in the backyard, when she was 5. Then in high school in Skaneateles she was coached by her dad. Following high school, she played in college at Hofstra University, a Division I program.
Her brother, Kevin, played at Syracuse University (2012-2015) and is now playing in the Major Lacrosse League (MLL). One of Rice’s sisters played at Lehigh University. Her dad, who played lacrosse at St. Lawrence, also started the men’s lacrosse program at Jordan Elbridge about 46 years ago. He then was asked to be an assistant high school coach at Skaneateles High School, where Coach Rice played.
In high school Coach Rice played varsity lacrosse for five years, playing the midfield position. Throughout her high school years the team won four sectional championships, two state championship games, and fell short in the state championship game two other times.
In high school Rice was being recruited to play in college. “I went to (visit) Syracuse, Maryland, Hofstra, and St. Bonaventure,” said Coach Rice. Knowing she wanted to become a teacher she chose to stay in New York. She attended Hofstra University and was a part of the Women’s Lacrosse team for five years (2007-2011), redshirting her freshman year.
Coach Rice was looking for a teaching job during her last semester of college. While playing against William and Mary College, in Williamsburg, Virginia, during her senior season, she was approached by a coach who offered her the opportunity to become a coach for a team in North Carolina, as well as teach at a high school there. Coach Rice accepted the offer, and packed up her things and moved down to North Carolina after graduation. She spent four years there, at first teaching and coaching at a private school, then at a public school for two years.
After spending four years in North Carolina, Coach Rice moved back home, to Syracuse after accepting a teaching position at J-DHS. This also gave her an opportunity to be closer to her family and to coach in a place where lacrosse is more competitive. Though this is her first year as the head coach at J-DHS, her experiences playing and coaching previously will lead to a successful season for this team.