By LJ VP Lafiura – 1851 Contributor
Women’s lacrosse finds itself under new leadership as coach Al Eaton is set to move the Lasers forward in this new decade.
“Coach Eaton has great experience and a passion for the sport that was impressive to our search committee. I’m confident that he will be a valuable asset to our staff, and I’m excited for him to get going,” said Athletic Director Kristy Walter.
Eaton will have big shoes to fill as he replaces Cait Connolly, who had been at the helm of the program for the past decade. Connolly had a winning record every year as Head Coach and finished her time with a record of 114-50. During her tenure, Connolly also led the team to two Championships in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
“I don’t want to come in and flip the table over to start all over again, I want to build upon the success that [Connolly] has already had,” said Eaton. “She has done a great job of building this program and making them a contender. They’ve already had success before so I don’t think we are too far off.”
Eaton’s experience matters.
Experience is one of Eaton’s greatest attributes as he has spent the last 20 years in coaching and the past decade coaching women’s lacrosse across the high school and collegiate level. His first two coaching stints were at Swampscott High School and St. Mary’s High School. Eaton then spent time as an assistant coach at Newbury College in the 2017-2018 academic year and then for Gordon College the following season.
“I spent a lot of time looking for high-quality coaches to be mentored by,” said Eaton. “I’ve taken little things from every one of them and mixed them with my personality. That’s made me the coach I am today… I always say that if you’re not growing you’re not making any progress.”
Eaton not only surrounded himself with established coaches, but passionate ones such as former Gordon College women’s lacrosse coach and current coach at Missouri Baptist University, Max Ruhl.
During his time as a collegiate assistant coach, Eaton proved he had the makeup to become a college Head Coach, and he showed that to his mentors. “Al is a great guy. He really loves the game and I could always tell he was a head coach,” said Ruhl. “When he told me about the job [at Lasell] I told him he had to apply. It was the perfect fit for him because he knows the system, and the area so well.” Eaton spent the first 20 years of his coaching career in the Swampscott area.
Due to COVID-19 regulations, Eaton did not physically meet the team until they began practices on October 5. He said he has enjoyed being with them more with each practice. They echo that feeling.
“Just two weeks in and Coach has brought so much to the table,” said junior Leticia Farias. “His positive attitude has been encouraging and his patience and preparation have helped practices run smoothly.”
The team will begin their official first season with coach Eaton this spring.