A New Step Up: With recent change in women’s lacrosse head coach, internal promotion trend continues

Kelly Truax

Olivia Childress
Lacrosse Head Coach Joshua Miller instructs the women’s team through a play during practice on March 12. He said his history in the lacrosse program under previous Head Coach Jack Hettiger and his familiarity with the players helped him adjust to the position.

Joshua Miller, new women’s lacrosse head coach, is the latest in a long trend of assistant coaches to take the head coach position when there is an opening. This trend also occurred in the past few years in tennis, volleyball, basketball and football.

Despite the prevalence of this trend, Athletics Director Jim Inskeep said the school looks beyond CHS as well. Inskeep said the department looks for several qualities in potential new coaches; however, he said assistant coaches have the upper hand of already being known and evaluated within the department. Inskeep also explained why he thinks the trend exists.

“If you have assistant coaches that have a desire to want to become head coaches, that’s always a good thing. There are a lot of people who (become assistant coaches) because they want to continue to move up. For us, sometimes it’s not only just familiarity with that person, it’s also the feeling that they’re ready to go into that role,” he said. “Lots of times, you get a chance to see people firsthand and how they fit into the culture of your school too. It doesn’t mean that (hiring) within the program is always the best fit for things, and (that trend has) been around half-and-half over the years. Certainly you get a chance to prove yourself when you’re an assistant coach because we know where your strengths are; we know where your weaknesses are.”

After a new head coach is hired, players must adjust to the change in authority and the changes made to the program. For assistant coaches that change may not be as noticeable: Miller said the previous lacrosse head coach, Jack Hettiger, put a lot of responsibility on him, so he said he felt the team had already established him as a respected coach. Still, Miller said he predicts there are some factors the players will have to adjust to.

Olivia Childress
Joshua Miller, new women’s lacrosse head coach, helps adjust the net at Murray Stadium before a game on March 7. Though he may have a different approach to coaching than Hettiger, he said that few changes will be made to the team, allowing for a smooth transition.

“That will be the biggest thing, how I will delegate (as a coach), and how I will delegate probably a little bit differently than (Hettiger) did. I think that might be the part when it’s not necessarily the same,” Miller said. “Honestly I don’t know how much change they’re feeling or going to feel. Some of the changes will just be schematic; a lot of the same stuff is stuff that (Hettiger) and I had talked about and I was on board with doing already. I don’t think there is a whole lot of program-wide changes, it will be mainly game-based changes.”

Lora Adkins, women’s lacrosse player and senior, said she thinks the transition time between head coaches will be faster because of the players’ familiarity with Miller.

“I think it’s going to be a lot better of a transition because when (the athletics department) thought that they were going to bring in someone from another school or someone who just didn’t know the girls, we all kind of wondered how that was going to work. I just think it’s going to be better having a coach that we are all comfortable with and already know, so how everybody plays and how everybody works together will stay fairly the same,” Adkins said.

According to Aniston Eastes, women’s lacrosse player and senior, there are several benefits to having Miller succeed Hettiger as the coach.

Eastes said, “I think it will be beneficial (having Miller as the head coach) this season because he was under (Hettiger), so he kind of knows everything. We won State last year so he knows how that happened, and he knows what to do to kind of get us to that point. Also, he’s best friends with all of the girls, and we all love him, so I think we’re going to have a really good season with Miller.”

Inskeep said it is beneficial that assistant coaches bring familiarity to the program, but sometimes that can affect coach-player relationships.

“The (coaches) know the background of kids in the program. Lots of times they may have known them since elementary school coming up through the feeder program. So familiarity is always good and for some kids that is a great thing; for other kids, that is not necessarily a great thing. Maybe their relationship is strained coming in,” Inskeep said. “You have all sorts of kinds of relationships with your classroom teachers-some teachers you like, some others you don’t as much-which is certainly the same way with coaches as well.”

While Miller also said it will be beneficial for him to bring familiarity into the program, he said he is also looking forward to seeing other qualities he will bring to the team this season.

“I’m not sure (what other specific qualities) I will bring to the team—that is probably to be decided as things unfold,” he said. “We will have to make adjustments. We had a really good year last year, we were really successful on the field and off. I feel like our (athletes) gelled together and they were a good team, and there were some good teammates. You never know what you’re going to get, you never know who is going come into the program or who is going to return and who isn’t. So, I think there is a lot to be determined as we continue to move forward,” Miller said.

Adkins said she is excited to have Miller as the new head coach because of his coaching style and personality off of the field.

Adkins said, “He is just a really good person and I feel like he is going to be able to be authoritative as well. He’s going to be able to lay down the law when he needs to, but he is also there for everybody—you can always go and talk to him in school or before school.”