Chorosiewski's career takes a Scottish twist

Coach: Being able to help spread the word on lacrosse makes trans- Atlantic commuting more than worthwhile to the Garrison Forest AD.

Lacrosse

October 23, 2004|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Garrison Forest athletic director Kim Chorosiewski is getting a break this weekend.

She will be coaching, but she won't have to go all the way to Scotland to do it.

For the first time since she became coach of Scotland's national women's lacrosse program just over a year ago, the team has come here for its monthly training weekend.

Any other time, Chorosiewski would be in Edinburgh, where she has been preparing the Scottish team for the International Federation of Women's Lacrosse Associations World Cup, scheduled for June 23-July 2 at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Her one-weekend-a-month commute - over on Thursday, back on Monday - takes an entire day, including an eight-hour flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to London and a two-hour hop to Edinburgh.

It's a labor of love for Chorosiewski, who draws no salary. She is reimbursed only for her expenses, but money was never an issue when she accepted the position.

"The experience is worth the trade-off. I would never trade what Team Scotland gives to me in terms of being great people, their effort and their ability to adapt. Anytime you can enter into an experience like that, you walk away with so much," said Chorosiewski, 38.

Scotland's first American coach, Feffie Barnhill, encouraged Chorosiewski to apply to succeed her last summer.

Chorosiewski, a former All-America field hockey and lacrosse goalie at Maryland, got her first coaching job as assistant to Barnhill at William and Mary and then spent six years as head women's lacrosse coach at Richmond.

"Kim had a lot of energy and organization and those are two things they needed. She loved the challenge and it had her coaching at a higher level, which she is capable of," said Barnhill.

Chorosiewski's organizational skills have helped her keep a step ahead at Garrison Forest, where she is careful to make sure everything runs smoothly during the five days each month she is away.

In addition to her personal reasons for taking the job, Chorosiewski looks to the bigger implications for an emerging sport such as lacrosse.

"It's about the opportunity to promote lacrosse worldwide," she said. "We get to exchange techniques, experiences and opportunities."

Chorosiewski and Barnhill said they have never felt any resentment as Americans coaching in Europe.

Of course, they did need a little time to settle in with the team as each brought new skills and strategies to their game.

"When you step on the field, you don't get instant respect," said Chorosiewski, whose team averages about 28 years of age and includes at least one player older than she is. "You have to earn their trust, and I spent time really building relationships with them, so they would trust me. They had to feel that they were being treated fairly."

American coaches have been welcomed across Europe and other parts of the world because they have more experience than home-grown coaches. While lacrosse coaches in the United States can make a living coaching on the high school or college level, few if any Europeans get paid for those jobs, said Chorosiewski.

Although longtime U.S. coach Sue Stahl doesn't get paid to coach the national team, she does get paid to coach Old Dominion's team.

That makes a difference, said Fiona Reid, a Scotland midfielder who also serves as women's performance chair for the Scottish Lacrosse Association

"The professional status of lacrosse coaches in the U.S.A. means that any one coach has a background in education, huge experience of competitive coaching and continues a link with the game long after [her] playing career has ended, and only very exceptional individuals in Scotland can match these criteria," Reid said.

The difference in the Scottish system doesn't just lie on the coaching level. Not only is there no coaching profession, but university programs also aren't as intense, and club programs aren't as active.

Barnhill, Scotland's first American coach, said, "The base knowledge [of the Scottish national team] is not what it is in high schools here."

Chorosiewski's assistant coach, Emily Salvesen, a three-time World Cup player, sees a big difference on the college level.

"[Scottish] university students perhaps play eight to 10 hours a week maximum, whereas those in the U.S.A. in season play maybe two to three hours a day. ... This banked time should give the U.S.A. a consistent advantage over most other countries," said Salvesen.

Still, Chorosiewski said her team has made great strides in the 14 months since she began coaching it.

Last summer, Scotland took the silver medal at the European championships in Prague and Chorosiewski would like to see the team in contention for a World Cup medal.

Scotland won its last World Cup medal, a bronze, in 1986 - four World Cups ago. In the last Cup, in 2001, the Scots finished sixth.

"They know with the European championships that we worked hard," said Chorosiewski, who was disappointed by her team's 6-5 loss to Wales in the final.

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