Magness takes on the challenge of greatness Tough task: Roland Park's first-year lacrosse coach Traci Magness doesn't have an easy act to follow -- the Reds have won five straight AIS A Division titles.

March 30, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Traci Magness never has steered away from a challenge.

She was a professional triathlete for a year, has officiated women's lacrosse for seven years and is mom to 3-year-old Cody and 21-month-old Griff.

Coaching high school lacrosse may pale by comparison, except that Magness has just taken over a dynasty, No. 1 Roland Park. After five straight AIS A Division titles, expectations run high for a sixth.

"No doubt, challenges attract me or I attract them, because our paths seem to cross an awful lot," said Magness. "I love it. I like to be challenged. That's one of the things I like about coaching. I like to be able to challenge my players."

Magness knows exactly what she's getting into. She's been here before. In 1983, she took over the Reds and guided them to their first AIS lacrosse championship. She stayed two more years then left for a successful stint as a triathlete.

This time though, Magness knows she has a tough act to follow.

Her predecessor, Wendy Kridel, built the Reds program into a powerhouse. In five years, Kridel won the AIS title every year, earned All-Metro Coach of the Year honors twice, boosted the Reds to their first No. 1-ranking in 1994 and compiled a 64-5-3 record.

Stepping into that shadow can bring a lot of pressure, but Magness said it doesn't come from others. "Only from myself, because I'm so competitive. The kids are not putting pressure on me. The school is not putting pressure on me, but it's tough to step into this kind of situation."

Still, the transition seems to be running smoothly. Magness has not made a lot of changes in the Reds' game plan, and they opened the season with wins over Seton Keough and No. 12 Severn.

Senior defender Meredith Shuey said the team already is comfortable with Magness, who played college lacrosse at Ursinus and spent 10 years on the national team.

"There's always an adjustment when you have a new coach," said Shuey. "She's obviously going to coach differently, but we still understand her philosophy. We still have almost everyone back on defense, so we're used to playing with each other and that's the most important thing."

Returning eight starters certainly has made the adjustment easier.

"Every year, we lose three or four really good players," said senior attacker Lizzy Bennett, "but we have such a strong returning team that we do fine. Everything seems just the same."

The schedule is about the same, too, and that means it's loaded. The Reds play seven teams ranked in the top 15 as well as New York state champ Garden City. They also play No. 6 Loch Raven for the first time on April 20.

A week before that game, the Reds play host to their own invitational tournament, which includes No. 5 St. Mary's as well as No. 8 Mount Hebron.

In the meantime, the Reds are preparing to host No. 3 Garrison Forest on Wednesday afternoon. The Grizzlies were the only team to beat Roland Park last year although the Reds avenged that loss in the tournament semifinal.

Magness and the Reds like the tough schedule. They say it helps maintain the competitive edge.

"They've been to the championship and won it five times in a row and that can be a liability," said Magness. "It's tough to remain on top. Everybody's out to get you and you can become complacent. One of the toughest jobs for me as coach is to get these guys to continue to play as a team and keep that competitive fire, because when you're that good, it's tough."

Pub Date: 3/30/96

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