Beloved head coach retires after 13 years coaching girls lacrosse

Girls+lacrosse+faces+Lakeville+North+in+the+State+Quarterfinal+of+the+2019+season.+This+was+the+last+in-person+season+as+their+2020+year+was+canceled+due+to+COVID-19.+

Photo submitted by Tracy McGuire.

Girls lacrosse faces Lakeville North in the State Quarterfinal of the 2019 season. This was the last in-person season as their 2020 year was canceled due to COVID-19.

For the first time, the athletic department was tasked with finding a replacement head coach for the girls varsity lacrosse team after Rick Reidt recently retired. Reidt has been the head coach for the girls Ponies lacrosse all 13 years of its existence and worked tirelessly to build up the program, starting with girls at young ages and seeing them through to the end of high school. He made a massive impact on the community by caring about his girls as both players and people but is now looking to spend more time with his family

Being the first coach of the Ponies girls lacrosse team, Reidt has been coaching since the inaugural season in 2008. He quite literally had to build the program up from the ground, transforming it into arguably the best in the East Metro. 

“He had to be an ambassador for lacrosse,” Athletic Director Ricky Michel said. “He brought high school lacrosse to Stillwater in its infant stages, so he had to start with, stick skills, teaching the game, and selling the great game of lacrosse to two females. He took it from its infancy and made it into the remarkable program it is today.”

The girls are going to have to get used to a different style of coaching and a different set of expectations with a new head coach. Obviously, she’s female, and the girls will probably relate a little bit better with a female coach; not that they didn’t with Rick, but anytime that we can have a female in a role of being a leader and a coach, we will take advantage of that all the time.”

— Ricky Michel

The athletic department received three applicants for the head coach position, one of which was Ali Crofts. She played Division I lacrosse for the University of Connecticut for a total of four years and was a captain of the Huskies for two years. Crofts accepted the job at the end of the week of Feb. 8, however, after having the consistency of the same head coach for 13 years, a new person in command will change the dynamic of the team. 

“The girls are probably going to have to get used to a different style of coaching and a different set of expectations with a new head coach. Obviously, she’s female, and the girls will probably relate a little bit better with a female coach; not that they didn’t with Rick, but anytime that we can have a female in a role of being a leader and a coach, we will take advantage of that all the time,” Michel said.

On a similar note, team camaraderie greatly impacts sports. Teammates need to be comfortable around each other, and support each other. Collaboration determines everything from overall success to how gratifying the season is, and replacing Reidt with Crofts means different methods and a different relationship.

For me, everyone in our program is so close, and all the girls are such great girls, great athletes, great students, as well everybody is such good friends, and that’s thanks to Rick,” junior varsity player Gracie Bancroft said. “The team has become very close because we put so much into the program. We did a lot of team bonding, which translated onto the field. Our team chemistry is superb like you could see it. Everyone gets along super well, and I think that’s super important on the field and off the field as well.”

Of equal importance, girls lacrosse annually attend State meets. They did well at state every year, but they were somewhat hung up in the third and fourth-place game repetitively. In the wake of Reidt’s success, Crofts has high expectations set upon her for the upcoming season. 

Junior play Grace Mattox commented on the changes affecting the team, I think we’ll still have a good season. We have some good players and some good young players, some of which weren’t on varsity last year. So, the first few games might be on the rougher side as we learn how to re-sync as a team, but I think they will get better, maybe just with a slow start.”

This season will be partially difficult, not only with the fresh new head coach, but all three members of the previous coaching staff are out, at least for the 2021 season. Apart from Reidt, the JV coach is on maternity leave and is going to have her second child, and the third coach who did the lowest level has a job in her field of study where she will be starting her career.

In regards to the team’s anticipation for the new coach, Bancroft said that it is important to look for work ethic from the players and being a strong leader and teammate are prominent skills. The most significant, however, is being able to connect with the players. 

“When I was going through some hardships like other sports and stuff, Rick was someone who believed in me and my work ethic,” Bancroft said. “He developed me as a person and boosted my self-confidence as well as just being there for me. He also connected with me with a lot of coaches to talk to on the college side and has been helpful with that. Rick’s just extremely involved in all of his players. He cares about all of us very deeply, and I think that is important in a coach and something that won’t truly be replaced because he cared so much about our team.”