Alumni Report // Lauren Paul, McDonogh, soccer & lacrosse

Alumni Report

April 09, 2010|By Katherine Dunn | katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

When Lauren Paul played soccer at McDonogh in the late 1990s, Eagles coach Maurice Boylan Jr. saw the attributes that would eventually coalesce into a coach's mind.

They merged quickly for Paul, who led Franklin & Marshall's women's lacrosse team to the Division III national championship last season, her first as a head coach.

Paul, who also played lacrosse at McDonogh and was a two-time All-American at Franklin & Marshall, never started for Boylan's soccer team, but she was a captain who led with a level head and compassion.

"She was a leader," Boylan said. "She was smart, and she knew her role. She also understood the role of the superstar, of the starting 11. She understood what the makings of a team were. She was a great team player. Those qualities are what are making her a great coach. She's a student of the game. She was a good lacrosse player, so what was applicable to her as a player, she's been able to mentally and emotionally translate on the field to the players."

Without realizing it, Paul said, she applied a lot of lessons learned at McDonogh to her coaching repertoire, especially since her experience swung from winning the 1998 Catholic League soccer title to finishing 2-13 with the lacrosse team.

"Now, looking back, I kind of see a lot of things that I took from Maurice," Paul said, adding that she also learned from her college lacrosse coaches, Randall Flynn and Anne Phillips. "You're learning different things. You see things you like and things you don't like, and you just kind of build from there."

Paul, 28, came late to lacrosse, starting in high school. Back then, the Eagles did not rank among the nation's elite prep teams as they do now, but that didn't stop her from loving the game.

She walked on to Franklin & Marshall's team and became the first player in school history to reach 100 goals and 100 assists.

Flynn said she saw Paul's coaching potential right away.

"Lauren just really wanted to do well. She really wanted to compete. Ever since that day, I knew, because she always was kind of studying the game, got things quickly and was really easy to coach. I told her, 'I know you're going to F&M and it's a higher-education school, but one day, you're going to coach and you're going to be a really, really good one,' " said Flynn, a former World Cup player, who was All-Metro in three sports at St. Mary's.

Paul shrugged that off and never planned to coach. After graduating with a degree in business, she went to work in a bank. Then Flynn intervened, passing Paul's name along to the head lacrosse coach at Lafayette, who was looking for an assistant.

When the call came, the prospect piqued Paul's interest, so she decided to interview.

The interview "was so casual and exciting and it wasn't very exciting working at a bank, so I decided to go for it," Paul said.

Paul spent a year at Lafayette, then three years as an assistant at Dickinson. After that, she took a break from coaching to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, trying to decide whether an interest in jewelry design could be more than a hobby.

When the head job at Franklin & Marshall opened, however, she could not resist the lure of her alma mater.

"It's the only reason I got back into coaching. I loved my experience here, and I had two fantastic coaches. I just wanted to make sure that the tradition of F&M lacrosse stayed intact and that every person that came through this program had the best four years of their life, just like I did."

She didn't arrive at the most opportune moment, and not only because she wasn't hired until mid-September, two days before the start of fall practice.

The Diplomats were coming off a 13-6 loss to Hamilton in the 2008 national championship game after winning their first national title in 2007.

Although Paul made some changes when she arrived at F&M, she wanted to maintain continuity. She immediately sought input from the players.

That set up a comfortable relationship from the start that continued into the season, Diplomats senior Blake Hargest said.

"It was actually kind of cool because she would sometimes allow us to be a part of the practice plans in some way. If we had any suggestions, she was very open to it. She wanted to make it as easy a transition as possible, so keeping us in the loop and having her ears open really helped."

Hargest, a St. Paul's graduate, said Paul is always available and even is tutoring one of the players in a challenging statistics class.

The Diplomats (8-1) again have national title aspirations after going 21-1 last spring, avenging the loss to Hamilton in the semifinal and edging Salisbury, 11-10, in overtime to take back the championship.

Paul said she thinks she will stay in coaching for now although she might eventually venture into administration, perhaps as an athletic director.

She likes the Division III level and wants her student athletes to have the same broad college experience she had.

"You're allowed to be part of a competitive program," Paul said, "but you're still there for your academics and being part of other things. I was in an a cappella group when I was here. You have that opportunity to do different things that help make you a little bit more well-rounded, which I'm sure that Division I athletes would like to do if they had the time."

Alumni Report
Each Friday, The Baltimore Sun will catch up with a former area high school sports figure. In the spotlight today is former McDonogh soccer and lacrosse player Lauren Paul. To suggest former athletes or coaches to be considered for Alumni Report, please e-mail sports@baltsun.com.

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