The UNH Coaches Blog will be a weekly feature in which selected coaches share thoughts and insights about their program. This week’s blog highlights the gymnastics team and women’s lacrosse team.

The University of New Hampshire women’s gymnastics team is looking forward to a strong season in 2010. Senior co-captains Helena Diodati and Taryn LaFountain and junior assistant captain Katie Lawrence lead the 2010 team. The 2009 team picked up the tradition of competing at the NCAA Regional Championship after just barely missing the mark for the first time in 2008. The team has competed in 26 of the 27 NCAA Regional competitions and looks to continue that tradition with the addition of a strong freshman class to complement the talented upperclassmen.

Joining the team as first year collegiate gymnasts are Jennifer Aucoin (Mullica Hill, N.J.), Courtney Connors (Lancaster, N.Y.), Austyn Fobes (Howell, N.J.), Dianna Kurowyckyj (New York, N.Y.) and Rebecca Marrama (Lynnfield, Mass.). These young women have already made an impact on early training with great work ethics and high-level skills. The competition to make the line-up should be fierce, as all team members will push each other to be at their best.

Above and beyond the gymnastics training, this team has already stepped up our community involvement. The year began with a performance on September 15th for the University Day picnic. The team performed on tumble track from 3:30 - 6:30 pm to entertain the community joining in the fun of the annual picnic. We also had the privilege of performing with Gnarlz, one of the UNH mascots, during halftime of the Homecoming football game. The audience showed great appreciation for the tumble track performance as Gnarlz joined in with a flip and served as a part of the base of the pyramid for select gymnasts to flip over.

Recently, 19 team members participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Dover, N.H. This event is sponsored by the American Cancer Society to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer and the UNH women’s gymnastics team was among the top 4 teams to raise funds.

Training is intense as the gymnasts prepare to show off their routines at 1:00 pm on Dec. 12th, 2009 at the annual “Meet the Team.” This event includes a blue/white competition from the gymnasts on all four events. This will be followed by a girls’ clinic at which girls 5 years of age and older will have the chance to work with the UNH gymnasts and coaching staff.

The gymnasts always have a little fun and this time of year found us carving pumpkins after our Sunday workout, a long time tradition for the team. We look forward to seeing what costumes they have come up with this Friday at practice! Happy Halloween and Happy Handstands!

(Gail Goodspeed is entering her 31st year as UNH gymnastics head coach.)

The UNH women’s lacrosse team has just concluded our 2009 fall-ball season, my first as the new Head Coach, with very strong showings against America East conference rival Vermont and in-state rival Dartmouth. On the whole, our 2009 fall season was very successful and will provide the team with positive momentum heading into our off-season skill and conditioning workouts during November & December. We learned a lot about the 2010 Wildcats this fall and I was pleasantly surprised with how far we came in six short weeks of lacrosse. If the team keeps making similar strides during the off-season, we think we will be able to put a championship-caliber team on the field for UNH come February 2010.

Our players worked exceptionally hard during our fall practices and in team conditioning workouts during fall-ball starting in mid-September and it carried over to our fall scrimmage season that saw us compete and play some very good team lacrosse vs. local and regional rivals like BU, BC, UMass, Harvard, & Holy Cross. While fielding a fall lineup with just two returning starters from the spring of 2009, we were all very pleased with the high level of play we saw from the entire team, which features only two seniors and four juniors. But, we were especially pleased with the play of two of our sophomores – our fall MVP’s, Erin Levesque (Defense) and Jo Jo Curro (Attack) – who had exceptional fall-ball seasons for us on the field, as team leaders and in the classroom, while only having played limited minutes as freshmen last spring.

This 2010 spring season we will rely heavily on our upperclassmen and emerging team leadership for our young, but very talented and athletic team. The 2010 lacrosse team will be led by tri-captains Kellen Millard, Shaunna Kaplan and Allie Duclos. Kellen and Allie did a wonderful job leading the team during the fall season and during the transition to a new head coach and a new system. The captains have already made great strides in leading this year’s team and are setting a good example both on and off the field for the 2010 lacrosse team. We are excited to have Shaunna join the team soon too, and the leadership group as well, once she finishes her post-season play for the UNH women’s soccer team.

After making great strides in terms of our team conditioning, fitness and on-field play during the fall, we are all very excited and enthusiastic for the upcoming 2010 UNH lacrosse season. We also had constructive and fun team outings this fall to Hampton Beach, NH and to a local corn maze, which only strengthened our team bonds and provided entertaining off-field competition during the pumpkin carving and team talent show portions. Without a doubt, it is going to be an amazing journey for our 2010 UNH lacrosse team and, we think, a championship season! Still, we know that we have a lot more work to put in during the off-season and during pre-season practices in order to achieve all our team goals for 2010, but it is clear that this young, talented team is ready to make another run in the America East conference and at an NCAA Tournament bid come the spring. To do so, they will have to “Lean on WE”.

As usual, we have a very competitive non-conference schedule for 2010, one that will challenge us and prepare us well for America East conference play. We have key home games at Memorial Field vs. in-state rival Dartmouth in February, as well as vs. 2009 NCAA participants Colgate and Fairfield. In addition, we are excited once again for the opportunity to play last year’s final four Maryland Terrapin team in mid-March. Next we will visit the University of Florida Gators to play a young, but talented team in Gainesville to kick off their inaugural varsity season. Of course, we are also looking forward to key road games at conference rivals BU, Stony Brook & Vermont, and regional rival Boston College during the month of April.

After such a great fall-ball, we are all very excited for the upcoming 2010 UNH women’s lacrosse season and we have high expectations for our team! But, first it is time to “get back to basics” during our off-season skill & conditioning workouts so we can forge a solid foundation for our 2010 championship season and team. Let the amazing journey continue.... As always thank you for your support of UNH women’s lacrosse. Good luck, have fun, GO BLUE!

(Michael Daly ‘90 is entering his first year as UNH women’s lacrosse head coach. He was an assistant coach with the program in the 2007-08 academic year.)

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