North Branford Patch: Where did you go to high school?
Lori Connelly: I went to Daniel Hand High School in Madison.
North Branford Patch: What were you like as a high school student?
Connelly: I did well in high school. My mother was very strict when it came to our grades. I played field hockey and lacrosse. Even in the off-seasons, I did indoor field hockey or indoor lacrosse and in the summer I was always playing, so I did those two sports all year long.
North Branford Patch: How did you get into education?
Connelly: Growing up, I always loved kids in general. I had some teachers in high school that made a difference in my life and I wanted to be able to do that for someone else. I wanted to have that effect right before they go off to college when they’re maturing and helping them be responsible, organized and prepared for the real world.
North Branford Patch: How did you get involved with coaching?
Connelly: I started by helping Babby Nuhn with field hockey. I had known Babby as a player and all of the things she had done for the sport. When I knew I was coming here, I had talked to her and she let me come on to help. For lacrosse, Cliff Yerkes [the previous lacrosse coach] called me when he found out I would be working here. He was the freshman lacrosse coach at Hand and he had known me as a player. So that was exciting knowing that I was coming here and I was going to be involved with sports here right away.
North Branford Patch: What was the transition like from being a player to being a coach?
Connelly: It’s really hard sometimes because I want to pick up a stick and go out there and play. I go to a lot of coaching clinics and I watch a lot of games. Being older now and having more knowledge, I’m able to see how things relate; whereas when you’re a player sometimes people tell you things that don’t make sense. Now understand more of the aspects of the game compared to when I was playing.
North Branford Patch: Do you have a specific coaching philosophy?
Connelly: I believe team unity is the key to success. You can have 12 of the best players in the state on a team, but if they aren’t a team and they don’t play together or trust each other, they aren’t going to win.
North Branford Patch: As a coach, how do you foster that team unity?
Connelly: I have a great bunch of girls so it’s always been easy. But, if there are tensions on the field, I try to talk to those kids. We did have a bit of tension this year between our seniors and I pulled them in and I said, “When you step out on the field, you guys have to be the five best friends and support each other. If you do that, everybody will follow.” So I do put it on my seniors to be leaders. We also do the Adam Kreiger Adventure Program at Hopkins every year as a team-building exercise. It has nothing to do with lacrosse, but it has to do with the fundamentals of pushing yourself.
North Branford Patch: What is the most challenging part of being a coach?
Connelly: One tough part is time management because I do so much and I can’t let my classroom duties go. Another tough part is when the kids don’t listen because I just want to go out on the field and do it myself. For the most part they do listen, but in pressured moments I’ll make a quick change and sometimes they’re reluctant and that can be frustrating. The most frustrating part is not being able to play; to sit back and just watch it unfold. I have to sit there and hope that I’ve given them everything they need to win. Sometimes I just want to put the skirt on and the jersey on and go out there with them.
North Branford Patch: What is the most satisfying part of being a coach?
Connelly: Watching them grow up from freshman year to senior year and watching them become leaders and knowing that the effort that they’re putting in and I’m putting in is working. Obviously winning is great, but we had some great games this season that we lost and it was great to see how they handled that and came back and worked harder the next day. Watching the seniors lead and the whole team be there for each other, it’s just a great feeling.
To be featured in ‘A Day in the Life’ or to suggest someone who should be profiled, send information to Jim Gangi.