By: Michelle Lewis
Current and former women’s lacrosse players have jumped to Coach Kellie Young’s defense after a front-page Louisville Courier-Journal story last week characterized her as abusive.
The team has only known one head coach. Young built the program from scratch. Last week some of her tactics were called into question by players and parents.
In a recent interview with The Cardinal conducted before the allegations, Coach Young had nothing but love for the university and her players. She expressed appreciation for the athletes and the parents who have been willing to take a risk on such a young program. Most of them, she said, came from New England where lacrosse is a much more popular sport.
The Courier-Journal reported players and their parents have accused the coach of using abusive tactics and intimidation to run her team. Allegations against Young included telling two teammates to sign a contract saying they would no longer speak to each other, making an injured player do push-ups in an airport terminal as a punishment, and kicking a player off the team during a road trip then leaving her behind at the stadium.
“I tell my leaders, ‘It’s acting. I’m just trying to get a reaction out of you. If you’re going to be mad at me, great … if that means you’re gonna play harder’ ” said Young in disputing the allegations of cruelty and mistreatment. Several current Cardinals agree with their coach.
Two upperclassmen have said that while the atmosphere at practices and games can sometimes be intense they support both Young and her coaching methods. They also noted that in athletics, practices are often difficult and coaches say things to “get you riled up so that you work harder in the end. It makes you stronger and more determined to prove yourself.”
The disaffected players said that she was cruel and punitive. Among their claims were accusations that Young preyed upon their insecurities and that she often made them sit in silence for hours after a loss. Young’s reply to their statement was that yes, she did have them stay silent at times after a loss but never for “hours” saying instead, that she asked them not to be so “happy go-lucky after a loss.”
After the charges were reported a group of former players sent the following:
“We are deeply troubled by the article released by The Courier Journal. Every athlete at the University of Louisville is held to an elite standard to prepare, practice, and compete at the highest level within their respective sport. Kellie Young encouraged an atmosphere that made each and every player strive for excellence. Each player under Kellie Young has achieved something they never thought possible, whether it was a sub 6:15 mile time or a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. Kellie incepted a culture of academic and athletic superiority, which has helped us develop into the successful young professionals we are today.
As alumnae of a Division I program, we understand that not every athlete has the drive, discipline, and courage to take on the expectations of a tough coach. We support Kellie Young and are grateful to have had a coach that cared about our character as much as our player potential.
U of L Women’s Lacrosse Alumnae
(There were 18 signatures to the letter)
In the meantime, Coach Young and the lacrosse team are in fall practices and tournaments preparing for the coming season.
Photo Courtesy of Google Images