In early April, E-Lacrosse spent some time with Kim Simons talking about the Hoyas' rise to national prominence, her influences, philosophies, even her recent sideline pregnancy and the birth of her son, Jack. Her Hoyas look to be a number one or two seed in next week's NCAA seedings and many think they are the team to beat. On the field she's fiery and demanding. In the interview room she's candid and mature beyond her years. Enjoy!

E-LACROSSE: Where did you grow up and learn to play lacrosse?

SIMONS: I came out of a Philadelphia public high school called Springfield in Montgomery County. There's two Springfield's there - a big one and a little one. We were the little one. We weren't that great at lacrosse. We were better at field hockey. I played both.

E-LACROSSE: I understand you were a very good field hockey player and starred for Princeton in both sports.

SIMONS: Princeton's one of the elite programs in field hockey too now and I might not have been good enough to play there now. But both programs were building at Princeton then and I came in at a good time when I could contribute. I was lucky enough to do pretty well. The lacrosse program obviously reached a very high level a little bit quicker.

E-LACROSSE: When did you start playing field hockey and lacrosse?

SIMONS: In Philadelphia, at least at that time, I think it's still the same; we didn't start until 7th grade. So that's when I was first introduced to both sports. I actually liked field hockey better at first. I really didn't like lacrosse for whatever reason. I almost quit my first year to go run track. Thank God I didn't do that! But my parents were the type of parents that didn't let me quit and made me stick with it. I ended up, obviously, really liking it. And then I had a great coach who kept me going and really helped me develop. Her name was Jane Vache. She was a big name in girl's lacrosse in the Philadelphia area. She has since passed away but she was an incredible woman and a real inspirational coach for a young girl.

E-LACROSSE: Who were your inspirations? Who influenced you as a player to want to be a coach?

SIMONS: Well I had a lot of terrific coaches. I mean, I'm one of those very lucky individuals. In high school, along with Jane Vache, my field hockey coach, Linda Nixon, was incredible. She was just a great individual and real positive. But she also pushed me as an athlete and pushed our team. We had a pretty successful field hockey team. And then at Princeton, Chris Sailer, the lacrosse coach, and Beth Bosman, the field hockey coach; they were the kind of coaches that I really thrived under. They pushed you really hard. They had high expectations. They were pretty demanding. They didn't let you settle. But on the flip side they also cared about you as an individual and that has been really helpful for me in developing as a young coach here at Georgetown.

E-LACROSSE: OK, so you are the coach at Georgetown and you're talking to some young woman who is thinking about playing lacrosse at Georgetown and Princeton. How do you deal with that?

SIMONS: Well, you know, I get that a lot. We recruit against Princeton often, so a lot of kids decide between those two schools. But, regardless of whether it's Princeton and Georgetown or Georgetown and somewhere else, one of my philosophies is that the young women we recruit along with the young women who play for me need to make their own decisions. I'm not one of those coaches that's gonna tell you that Georgetown is the place for you because I don't really know any of the recruits well enough to make that decision for them. I present to them what we have to offer. I think it's a great place. I also think a school like Princeton is a great place and I had a good experience there, but they're very different. What might be right for one kid might not be right for the next one. So I really try to let the recruits and even let our players make those kinds of decisions on their own. The last thing I want is someone coming here and then regretting it down the line. I have to say. One of the things I'm pretty proud of is that I think the young women who play for Georgetown really want to be here. They really want to be a part of this program and I think that's one of the things that's made us successful. I mean, they are pretty fiery and dedicated group. When they get here they can never say, "Well, you promised me this," or "I though it was going to be that way," because I don't really make any promises. I don't make any guarantees. I present to them what we have to offer and then hope that they make the decision on their own. If they come to Georgetown, obviously, I'm ecstatic. And if they don't, again, I'm not one of those coaches that feels like any one player that we don't get is gonna make or break us. That's my philosophy and it's been pretty successful so far.

E-LACROSSE: Have you been helped by the fact that Georgetown is a top academic university and a local social scene, as well?

SIMONS: Sure I mean it has what I always refer to as a great balance. You know, it's got the academics. It's one of the elite institutions academically. It's one of the elite institutions athletically. And then it also has a lot to offer, you know, being in an urban setting. There's a lot to do here. It's just a little bit of everything. It's one of those places where you could have the best of everything. I think there are only a handful of institutions out there that really can provide that. I think that that is one of the things we have in our favor when it comes to recruiting.

E-LACROSSE: Do you draw on your experience of winning the national championship much when coaching?

SIMONS: I definitely make references or think about my experience as a player often because I feel, in many ways, this team has mirrored some of the experiences that we had at Princeton. When I first came in as a player at Princeton we went to ECACs my first year so we obviously were not a highly touted top 5 team. We had to build that program. When I first got to Princeton there were very few of us who really believed that we were good enough to be able to get to that place. When I started building the program here, last year's senior class was the first group that really believed that we could win a national championship. Sure there were individual players who maybe thought that or some player that thought it but really didn't work hard enough to back it up. But I think the same things that helped us at Princeton to achieve what we'd dreamed about are useful now. Last year's class was a very strong group of young women. There were seven of them. Six of them were starters. You know, kids like Sheehan Stanwick and Bowen Holden and Caitlin McLean and the rest of them; they've just willed this team to move forward. And to have the program move forward they did what it takes. They didn't just say they want to win the national championship. They did the extra work. They worked incredibly hard. They were focused. And that's really what it does take. And so I definitely saw a lot of similarities. I mean nobody likes to hear about their coaches' glory days so we don't talk about it a whole lot. I just think about the things that happened and how that made us successful, and then I try to relate that to our captains and our leaders. So that definitely has helped. The experience of going through it was something that I can rely on, in terms of winning it. I mean, what can I say, you never talk to somebody who wins the national championship or a team that went to the national championship that says it wasn't worth all the work and all the sweat and the tears and everything else. It was an incredible experience. The whole season was one of those seasons you dream of and then obviously, realizing your dream of winning a national championship, there's very little, I think, that can match that.

E-LACROSSE: You are ranked #1 this week. Is this your first time ever at #1 as a coach? What do you have to do to end the season that way?

SIMONS: Yes. I think, first of all, this year is a really exciting year for women's lacrosse because of the parity. I mean everyone is beating everyone, a team will have a great win one week and then the next week they'll turn around and they'll lose to somebody else. It's been up and down, even with us. The games that we've won, they could have easily gone the other way, a couple of them. They've been great games that have been very exciting, which is also great for the game. As far as the teams out there, I think that there are a handful of teams, in all honesty, that really could be competing for the championship at the end and be really tough teams to beat in May. We still have a lot of growing and a lot of improvements that we need to do. We're still a young team. We have been fortunate that we've pulled off a few games early here and some things have happened with some other teams that have allowed us to be put in that number 1 spot. But, I mean, our team knows the most important ranking is the one in May. I think we need to stay healthy. That's an issue and it's an issue for some other teams. We've got some injuries right now that we are trying to work through and I hope that we can overcome. Also, something I always emphasize is our leadership. I think that our three captains, Erin Elbe, Kristin Raneri, and Melissa Biles are really coming into their own in terms of leading this team. That's going to be key for us as we go down the home stretch in April and into May. I just think that for us to get where we want to be we should stay in focus. And I think this past weekend, winning at Duke in the first week we were ever ranked number 1, on the road and against a team that honestly we've had a difficult time defeating in the last few years; that was a big accomplishment for us. We were pleased with that even though, maybe, the game didn't go exactly how we would have liked. The fact that we were able to get out of there with a win was, I thought, significant for our team for the girls.

E-LACROSSE: You have games against Rutgers tomorrow and then Maryland and Carolina. That's a petty tough week.

SIMONS: Actually the beginning of our season has been really tough, too. We started out with four games in eight days and we got through those and then had Syracuse and then Duke and now Rutgers, North Carolina, Maryland and James Madison. I mean, that's the stretch we're in right now. It's a tough one. To continue to get up and to continue to get prepared for each one of these games is obviously a challenge for the staff and for the team. The Rutgers game tomorrow is really the most important one because it is Big East and we want to make sure we win the Big East and hopefully get that automatic bid. Then we are looking on to Maryland. It's one of those games where I really hope that our team can show up and put together the kind of game that we know we can play. As far as what happens in the end, win or lose, I don't know if that's as important. But I definitely feel like we need to put a full 60 minutes on the field on Wednesday. It will be hard to walk away with a win regardless of the fact that Maryland's lost a couple games. They still know how to win when it counts.

E-LACROSSE: I'm sure you've scouted them. Are they still a dangerous unit?

SIMONS: Yes, (Laugh) hey, they are and probably will always be dangerous. They are definitely a different team [from last tear] just like we're a different team. I don't think many people would have expected that we'd be where we are right now with graduating six seniors and six starters and three national players of the year. I think that if you focus on what a team doesn't have anymore then you're going to have problems. I think what we need to focus on is what we are going to do. We always talk to our players about playing Georgetown lacrosse. We play hard and we play smart and usually the outcome is what we want it to be.


E-LACROSSE: Obviously Erin Elbe is a pre-season national player of the year candidate and I think with Duke's Kate Kaiser hurt, Elbe took the leading spot. There are a couple of players around the country that might compete with her and one of those is a player on her own team, Wick Stanwick. Wick is performing at a high level in the games we've seen and certainly looks to be a candidate in years to come, as well.

SIMONS: I think something our team and our offense, in particular, is starting to benefit from, which is similar to what Maryland has been able to achieve over the years is the ability to withstand graduation of big time players and rely on a good offensive system that works. Wick does very well in that system. If you look at our scoring across the board, it's actually very balanced and that's also what makes our team tough to stop when we're playing well. A great example - we had a very good game against Syracuse. I think we scored 15 goals and Erin Elbe and Wick Stanwick each had one goal. That was probably our most complete team effort both offensively and defensively to date. We're tough when we are playing well and when all of our players do that they need to do in terms of stepping up at different times. That makes it very hard to stop us offensively. You can try to double Elbe early or you can try to face guard Wick, whatever you want to do. If the rest of the players do what they need to do, and they can all finish and they know what they are supposed to do, off the ball or when the double goes on. They know how the system works now a lot better than maybe in the past. Maybe individually the talent isn't quite at the same level as at other times like last year, but as a whole, the unit works very well because they all understand the system. So, that's where a player like Wick can really thrive and I think sometimes as an underclasswoman you get protected a little bit by the higher profile players like Sheehan [Stanwick] allowed Elbe last year to have a little bit more leeway. Well now Erin is doing that for Wick. That's how it works. We always say when you're a senior it's a little bit different than when you're an underclasswomen because you not only have to play, but you get a lot of attention and you still have to lead. That's the other thing that Elbe is working really hard at, too. We've told her we can win without her necessarily being a great scorer, or even the leading scorer, but we can't win without her being a great leader. That's basically what she is trying to work with right now. And that's a hard thing to do when you're on the cover of Magazines and being touted as a highly acclaimed national pre-season player of the year. Her stats right now aren't where they were a year ago but we're also at a good place right now as a team.

Erin Elbe

E-LACROSSE: You guys have had many sister acts. Is this a testament to kids enjoying their time at Georgetown and relating that honestly to their siblings?

SIMONS: I would hope so, I mean, I always say it's the greatest compliment when parents want to send a second kid to you. And we've always had sisters; Kristen and Reagan Raneri, The Elbes. The Stanwicks. We've had several combinations over the years and I've always just felt like it also brings another element. We have Katie Ahearn's sister coming next year. I think that that's always a nice thing and a compliment for the program. I also feel that there's a connection there that you can't coach. When you watched Sheehan and Wick out there last year they looked like they were playing in the backyard with their goal that they've played with for the last 18 years and they ran plays and they did things that I didn't have anything to do with. It's fun watching them. That's something that doesn't happen with all of the sisters that come but there is always something a little special about it.

Wick and Sheehan Stanwick

E-LACROSSE: Last year's final is considered, by some, to be one of the better games ever seen in women's lacrosse. Is that your impression? Or is it just because of the level of the game is, itself, always getting better?

SIMONS: Well, I think it's both. I definitely think the game has just taken off to a new level in the last few years. I mean, the athleticism, the skill involved. When I played, which wasn't even that long ago, there weren't very many girls that used their non-dominant hands. Half the players still were using wooden sticks. You didn't really even think about what stick you were using or your skills or how to shoot and what the strategy was. It was not nearly as involved and complex as it is now. I view it as a testament to the players, coaching, and the game as a whole, starting at the lower levels. We are starting with the girls learning earlier. But with all that said, obviously I though it was a real exciting game. I had a lot of people also tell me that not only was it the best women's lacrosse game they've seen but also the most competitive athletic event they've seen. Which I think is also important. I don't think it was just a great example of women's athletics. I think it was also a great example of just athletes out there playing their hearts out and that's what both teams did. The overtime. And us coming back from 8-1. Those things just really made it a great athletic event and very exciting to be a part of.

E-LACROSSE: You won the championship as a player in '94. That does not typically fill the prerequisite to get a job at a school like Georgetown in '95. How did that play out?

SIMONS: Basically, when I graduated from Princeton, I really thought that I should try to do something besides sports. Sports had been a lot of who I was and I felt like it kind of defined who I was as a person. So I wanted to try something else and I did some non-profit work at an organization here in DC and after really only a few weeks of that I already knew pretty quickly that I missed being involved in sports and having that competition, and even just being outside. Being in an office without a window and just that day to day working the 9-5 and all that stuff just really didn't fit my style and the person that I was. So very shortly thereafter, fortunately, the Assistant job here at Georgetown opened up. That was in December. So I decided to apply for it and I got it. It was for both field hockey and lacrosse and I really, again, just thought I was going to do this for a little bit, get the bug out, and then move on to something else. And then the head coach left that Summer, I guess it was July, and they went on a search to try and upgrade the program to move forward a little bit. They were going to split the field hockey and lacrosse positions. Well, the field hockey program was really not very competitive at that point so I think they figured, "She's a young coach. She's got some enthusiasm. She had a little success as a player. We'll go ahead and let her be the field hockey coach." I applied and got the job. On a whim I just applied for the lacrosse job too. I guess they just didn't have any applicants at the level they were hoping for. So I convinced them or they decided to let me be the interim coach for a year. So I was kind of like a substitute teacher for the season. I coached the field hockey team and then I did the interim-coaching thing that spring. Fortunately, they thought I did an okay job and they gave me the full-time position after that. I coached field hockey and lacrosse for four years total. And then it got to be too much, especially with the recruiting and the off-season becoming so much more important. I left the hockey team and started focusing on lacrosse.

Princeton's Chris Sailer

E-LACROSSE: Coaching two sports is very difficult in today's college environment and yet many coaches do it?

SIMONS: Yeah, it was pretty insane. I mean I was coaching with in the fall, I would come in the morning and coach lacrosse from 7-9 in the morning and then in the afternoons, from 2-4, I'd be coaching field hockey and then your traveling and everything else. It was doable. But I wasn't able to give what I needed to give to both of the programs to have them continue to succeed. It was really taxing in terms of the time and just giving mentally and emotionally so I think it was a good idea for me to decide just to focus on the one.

E-LACROSSE: Are there still women that play both sports in college on a competitive level like you did?

SIMONS: We have a couple on our team. Up until last year we had quite a few like a Sarah Ogelsby and Caitlin McClain. They were two of our best players and they played two sports all the way through. Unfortunately, I think your going to see that less and less. I think it's because of, again, the commitment needed for each. A lot of coaches don't want their player playing a different sport. We have Molly Ahearn coming in next year. She's going to be playing field hockey and lacrosse so we still have some kids that do it, but it takes a special kind of kid. They really have to be committed to their academics and their athletics. They have to work harder to make up for some of the things that they maybe missed in the off-season. So I think you're not going to see a whole lot of it but occasionally you still see it at some of the schools.

E-LACROSSE: You explained how you got the job. And success came in gradual increments. You make the playoffs but you lose. You make the playoffs and then you win. You get to the play offs another time and do pretty well and then you get to the championship game. If you were a stock, you'd be a good investment right now because it's a steady gain and yet you haven't peaked.

SIMONS: (laugh) I guess. As coaches, that's part of the building of the program. I think one of the things we've always focused on is not necessarily our wins or loses or what our final ranking is, but the improvement and you'll hopefully always see improvement on Georgetown teams. I think that's maybe why being #1 right now is a little uncomfortable for me, to be honest, because I'm not used to it. When I was at Princeton we were never a front-runner. And over the last few years we always thrived on being the underdog and getting the team going to earn some respect and build the program and be the first. I think that's one of the things [number 1 ranking] that was a real challenge for this year's team. This is a tough year, because really the only way we can take another step forward is to win the national championship. So that's also why we tried to take a step back and said, "Listen, [players], there is no pressure for this team to do something better. There's just pressure for us to continue to do well and to improve and to be a team that hopefully outworks their opponents and competes hard and continues to want to do well every game." So that was a little bit of an adjustment I think for the players and for the staff because there's always been that mission that we're looking to go the next step. And it's not that we're not looking to go the next step, we just don't want it to seem like anything short of that means we did not have success or have a good year. I don't think that's the way it should be.

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E-LACROSSE: We were talking a little bit about player that double two sports, double duty and all this, but you, yourself had a little double duty scenario last year as while your coaching your also pregnant.

SIMONS: Right.

E-LACROSSE: Was it awkward to be pregnant on the sidelines of an athletic event or just doing the things a coach has to do?

SIMONS: I think that being pregnant and even having a child, anyone will tell you, gives you perspective which is not a bad thing when you are a coach because there are definitely times when you get very caught up in whether that little yellow ball goes in the cage or whether the scoreboard reflects a win. I think that I can be highly emotional and volatile at times. I'm a coach that pretty much gets into it and not to say that I still didn't get into it last year. It just kind of keeps you a little bit more low-key or more grounded at times. When my husband [Justin Tortolani, Princeton '92] and I started thinking about when we wanted to start a family, I was hoping to time it at a point when our program had gotten over the hump because I know that it's taken a lot of energy, time and focus to get a program there. So, I was very fortunate about the timing of it all. But it definitely makes it interesting.

A pregnant Simons in 2001

E-LACROSSE: I think a lot of people took notice, and it wasn't just you. I think last year was like a big pregnant coaching year.

SIMONS: Most of the other coaches seemed to time it a little bit differently. Obviously, you don't always have a choice and a lot of the coaches that have had kids have had them in the winter right before the season starts. So they weren't as pregnant as I was on the sidelines. I mean I was getting to be pretty pregnant by the end. (laugh) Kirsten Kimmel [Duke] and Jenny Slingluff [UNC], Tara Kelly at William and Mary and the American coach, Maureen Dupcakall all had babies. They basically timed it so they were just getting pregnant in spring and they started having their babies in November and December and Julie Myers [UVA], she's another one. She had hers in early January. I just knew that for me it just wasn't going to be enough time. I wanted to be able to take some time to just be a mom and to regroup and recover. My husband's a resident so his schedule is very, very busy. So I knew I was going to be the primary person taking care of Jack. That made it a little bit more challenging in terms of making it all work. It's been funny because a lot of times I'm talking to Kirsten down at Duke or Jenny at UNC or Julie at Virginia and we're talking about babies versus talking about wins and losses (laugh). So it's been fun. And they've been great. I mean I don't have a lot of friends, to be honest, that have kids. So they, in a lot of ways, have been very helpful for me. And I think it's made our team, in some respects, closer because they all kind of enjoyed talking about it and the kids really got into it. When we told them that I was going to have a baby they were all unbelievably excited. They've been great, even this year. Like on the road trips Jack, my son, he comes on every trip and he's around a lot and they've done a great job with being able to still remain focused while sometimes maybe I have to go do something else.

E-LACROSSE: Are they like 30 road nannies?

SIMONS: Exactly. Exactly.

If you were going to ask me what the biggest challenge would be besides the lack of sleep and the time and the energy and everything else - that's something that you just learn to do. But it's just the things like on game day, or even on other days, in the past, I've always been very focused and on the day that we're about to play a game, I'm focused on just that game. And now, I wake up in the morning and whether it's game day or it's not game day I'm still changing diapers, feeding the baby, getting him ready, you know, doing all those things whether we're on the road or whether at home and that makes it a little bit, I think, different. A little more challenging. Again, you learn to figure it out and that's what we've done.

Scouting with Jack in 2002

E-LACROSSE: Are you planning on a big family or is that it?

SIMONS: I hope that's not it. But, right now, I'm just trying to get through this. I'm just trying to enjoy the moment and enjoy Jack right now. He's been a real blast.

E-LACROSSE: Is it a testament to the growth of the game that there are so many coaches at a high level that are within your age group?

SIMONS: I think it is a testament to the growth of the game because a lot of these coaches or some of them are with new programs or newer programs.

E-LACROSSE: Yeah, I mean I'm going to watch George Washington play St. Mary's of California today!

SIMONS: Right. I mean that's great. There's nothing better than the fact that those games are happening. And the George Washington coach actually has a new baby too! Also, there's always that passing of the torch. I think that there was a group of women who were the coaches that really started moving this game forward. And then that attracted younger coaches to get involved. It seems that there's not really that many that are in between. You know, most of us are either in our early 20's, early 30's or in the 40 or over range. There's a gap there for a while. But I think that it's a great mix. At our coaches meetings you get a little bit of everything you get the more traditional opinions and ideas and then you get some of the younger coaches who are always pushing for something new and something different. And I think that's a good way to move forward and to continue to make the game better.

E-LACROSSE: What coaches out there challenge you the most on the field?

SIMONS: Well, I don't want to offend anyone if I don't include them meaning that I'm taking them lightly as a coach but a few stand out like Chris Sailer at Princeton. The one thing that we always were at Princeton was prepared. So I know when we play Princeton that their team is going to be prepared. I also know that they are a team that's never going to give up because that's another thing that was always impressed upon us. So it's funny, this year we played into overtime and all of our games have been pretty much, except the last year, one or two goal games or overtime. They've just been these crazy games. And she has, right as we're going into overtime and standing at the 50, looked over at me and laughed like, "You know, why does this always happen?" and I said, "Well my team just plays like your team. You know I learned from the best." Our teams have very similar characteristics in some ways. I mean, I don't know, maybe they won't take that as a compliment but they should. Our teams are, hopefully, on a good day, both going to really work hard and give it all until the final buzzer and that's what usually happens. Whenever we play Princeton I know that our team's going to have to be up and be prepared and be playing at a high level. This past weekend we played Duke and we were winning 6 -2 at half. Kerstin and her staff and their team did a nice job of making some adjustments and their team came out very hard in the second half. They didn't give up, which they could have done, after losing two games earlier in the week and they really gave us a run. There are some other coaches out there that I admire what they do year in and year out regardless of their talent. That's also the other thing to look at. There's some teams that have the ability to really recruit the top level kids so you expect them to be there every year. But then there are coaches and teams that compete at a very high level without that guarantee. I mean, Diane Geppi-Aikens is one. Last year is the first year I've ever played her or played them but I always know her team. I've watched them as a spectator. They're going to fight and they're going to be feisty and she is someone who is very inspirational to me. Right now, she's dealing with some health issues and other things and it doesn't matter. She's still just keeps going. She's just one of those people. She just keeps going and her kids are the same exact way. It doesn't matter what their talent level is. You've got to be prepared for a dogfight when you play Loyola. Those are some of the ones that really stand out in my mind.

Loyola's Diane Geppi-Aikens

E-LACROSSE: We talked about a camaraderie, of sorts, between coaches who were pregnant or with newborns. How close is the overall coaching group? Does everybody get involved in support of say something like Coach Aikens' battle with cancer.

SIMONS: Everybody knows and respects someone like Diane. That's pretty much across the board. She's one of those people that really have the coach's ears. When she stands up and speaks everybody listens and she usually has very pertinent points that get you to take a step back and look at the big picture. I think the group, if you want to call it the coaching sorority, is a pretty good one. It's a group where we all want to be good and we all want to have our individual programs succeed and do well. But then I think most of us, hopefully, have a good idea of what the bigger picture is not only for the young women we're coaching, but for the game of lacrosse. We all want to keep moving it forward. We want some day for our game to be on ESPN, you know, just like the men's game. We want to continue to find ways to have the game of lacrosse grow and have a bit more fans and spectators and more publicity and all those things because our young women are really pretty fun to watch and it's pretty impressive what they do. I think as far as sports go, it's a pretty fun game to watch compared to a lot of other sports that are out there right now.

E-LACROSSE: Do you see, within your career, lacrosse getting more exposure from television and media?

SIMONS: I hope so. I mean, I think that we need to do some things for our game first to move it forward. When we have these meetings and we talk about the game of lacrosse and collegiate lacrosse I still think sometimes we look at it from a narrow point of view. A lot of us as coaches are used to doing everything ourselves. Like we joke about our job descriptions as coach, counselor, as equipment manager, as trainer, as sports information person… I mean, most of us don't have the luxury of having a support system where we work where all those things are taken care of. So when we come to promoting our sport or doing the things to move our sport forward, a lot of the time, we look at it like "Well, I guess we the coaches organization are going to go out and get advertising or we're going to try to get us on TV or we're going to try to get our game taped." That's all good and fine, but that's not our expertise. I mean we need to start thinking in the bigger picture like how we can get sponsorship for the national championship games and how we can get it to a venue where we can really promote it to get more fans. You can't tell me that there wouldn't be more people who were fans if more people saw the national championship game last year. I'm not just saying there's too narrow a home group. I mean, we played in it. More parents, more girls, more whatever it might be. More fans are needed. So I think that's really where we need to take the next step. We've got to start trying to go down those avenues that make us more visible and that can make us promote our sport to a bigger audience because I think the biggest problem right now is the lack of exposure. People don't know about the game enough or if they do, they haven't seen it played at a high level. They might see it played at a lower level and they're like, "Ah, you know, the ball's on the ground all the time. These girls don't really have a whole lot of skills" or whatever it might be. But if you see those girls afew years later at a different level it's a whole other thing.

E-LACROSSE: What are some of the things you love about lacrosse?

SIMONS: I love the fact that if you can catch and throw, you can play and you can be very good at it. I mean we are playing right now at what I would say is one of the highest levels of lacrosse besides internationally and we tell our players all the time, "the teams that catch and throw and catch and throw the best are probably nine times out of ten are going to win the game." And that's why we focus on those skills a lot. We do a lot of other things, obviously, but we really work on those things and we push them to do it themselves. That's one of the things I love about the game. If you have good athletes, if they can work, there's a direct correlation, I know, in all things in life, but particularly in lacrosse, between effort and success. If you just get out there and work on the things you need to work on, the basics, you can be very good at the game of lacrosse. The other thing I love about it is just the development of the team as a coach. It's so exciting. There are new things that you figure out or new strategies that you can implement because the players are so much more talented and more committed to getting better and to improving their skills. You can break things down in a finite way where maybe we weren't doing it a few years ago. You can film your kid shooting and you can say to her, "Look. Work on putting your stick here so the goalie can't see it before the release," or defensively, "Adjust your footwork here so that you can really force this attacker to a different spot." Not that they were never done before, but I just feel like the level of detail which is involved in the game now from a coaches perspective and from a players perspective is very exciting.

Simons with assistant Kellie Young

E-LACROSSE: Georgetown may be one of the bigger success stories over the last couple years but, oddly another team on the rise is your traditional school rival, Syracuse.

SIMONS: Yep. I don't think it's all that odd. Basically, Syracuse has become a very, very good program. Where they're located they get a lot of kids right from that area that want to do nothing more than go play for Syracuse because the men's team and just because it's a university that draws a lot of kids from that area. They are a challenge to play because they are very athletic and they go hard and are the kind of hard-nosed kids that want to win. It's definitely developed into a rivalry between the two schools. I mean, it's the big east. We've had some good competitive games with them and I think that it's going to continue to be a rivalry for us and a game that we get up for. But I think that's also going to kind of continue to develop over the next few years. And the big east is just getting so much stronger. I mean, all the teams competing at a high level. We won 11-9 against Virginia Tech. Last year, I don't know, we beat them by 15 goals and I can sit here and say It's an indication of how we played but it was also a good indication of how they were playing. And then you see a couple other teams had some really close games that you would never expect in these past few weeks in the big east and that's great. That's again, it's great for the game of lacrosse it's great for our conference.

E-LACROSSE: So George Washington, American and Howard have programs. Is there any idea of putting together a DC tournament, like a preseason kind of thing for local fans?

SIMONS: I mean I hadn't really thought about it a whole lot. The thing that's tough is that we have the big east schedule and then the teams that we play outside of the big east. If you look at our schedule; they're pretty darn competitive. I mean we've got North Carolina, Duke, Princeton, Penn State… We've got Vanderbilt and James Madison. I mean, I've always billed our schedule around the philosophy that you've got to play the best to beat the best. So we have a tough schedule. Anytime you look at another team or another couple teams, you've got to think about dropping a couple teams and the teams out of our conference that we would be needing to bump out would be those kinds of programs. At this point in time it's not something that I've thought a lot about but you never know. Maybe down the road it might be a good thing or maybe even something in a fall ball type tournament might do, as well. The rate that these programs are developing is amazing. And the coaches that are at the schools you mentioned are doing a great job at really moving their schools and their programs forward.

E-LACROSSE: Do you always have to go about a season two ways? You have your strong out of conference schedule and you have one of the tougher conference schedules. But they represent two paths to the tournament each year.

SIMONS: Well, first of all, we don't have a conference championship right now so it's the regular season winner, which I think is good. I know I'm biased. I played in the Ivy League and we didn't have a conference championship, but I feel like what you do during the season should carry some real importance 'cause that's what you do day in and day out. It's not this weekend that you show up and you can perform at the highest level. Now I know most of the other conferences don't believe in that and I do realize there is something to be said for a conference championship. They are a lot of fun. All they're trying to do is get another team in because they figure their regular season conference champion is going to get in anyway. That's what I guess the hope is. But some of the conferences that we have right now and that get automatic bids, to be honest, are not necessarily the strongest conferences. I've always thought you really need to push yourself to compete at a high level all the time - more than just one competitive game every 5 or 6 games because when you get to May, you need to play at a high level every game until you get to a national championship. I've always felt like those games that are considered to be not quite as tough are always a let down. Your team just doesn't prepare as well mentally. They don't get out there and play at the same level, etc. So that's why we play a hard schedule. Now, with that said, sometimes that can also be very difficult if you have a few injuries or if you lose a couple games and your tying to get your team some confidence and you have to, bam, bam, bam, play top teams. I'm looking at when we go into Syracuse like "Jeeze Louise! If we, by chance, don't get a couple of these, it could be a disastrous 5 or 6 game stretch that you don't catch a breather. It's kind of what happened to Duke this past week. I mean they had Carolina, Princeton, Georgetown and that can go either way. But the thing is, on the other hand, if you talk to Kerstin, I'm not going to put words in her mouth, but when they played us they played us a Heck of a lot better than they played the other two games. So they obviously learned something from those losses and from that week of competition that will ultimately make them better. At least that's my opinion.

E-LACROSSE: Do you expect to see them towards the end of the season again?

SIMONS: Oh, yeah. I mean they're a young team. They had a couple injuries. They're going to keep getting better. That won't surprise me one bit. You have to look at it like there is a balance and every year when you look at your schedule, you have to try to figure it out. You hope that you've done a good job in making that balance in case you have a fluke loss so you can withstand it or in case you don't have a couple big wins you know because they're close games or because of injuries or whatever it is. You need to make sure you have a couple of those big ones under your belt especially now with the automatic qualifiers if you don't win your conference. Your fighting against ACC schools cause they don't get an automatic bid and then you're fighting against some others, you know, the second team in the CAA and the second team in the Ivy league and we know those are tough schools to try to get a spot in front. So that's why you have to just keep emphasizing to your players that they've got to come out ready to play every game and that actually the games against teams that are unranked are the most important. And in the games against teams in your conference you really have to come out and play as if those are the ones that are going to get you to the NCAAs and to the final.

E-LACROSSE: You said the school was basically trying to upgrade the program when you came on board. Obviously they had started that 5 years earlier in the Men's program when they went and out of the blue basically and hired Dave Urick. He won 10 national championships, at another level, but national championships nonetheless. Do you have an opportunity to draw on that. Is there a mentoring scenario?

SIMONS: Definitely! I mean, it's incredible what coach Urick does. He can be coaching water polo it wouldn't matter. He is one of those people that is very smart, I think he obviously just knows the game inside and out. Doesn't matter what level it's at, he knows how to coach. It's funny that you ask that question because we were having some issues with our team in practice. I just felt like they haven't been competing at a very high level in practice the last two weeks and I was pushing and pushing and pushing. Coach Urick is definitely a different personality than I am when it comes to coaching and I have learned from watching him. I came in earlier yesterday morning and he was already in his office and I ended up going down there and sitting down and talking to him and asking him for his perspective on our Duke game. Sometimes as a coach, just like in anything in life, you start seeing everything through your narrow glasses and you kind of lose site of maybe what the whole picture is. That's one thing about coaching. It's really easy to start making assumptions about why your kids are doing something, you know, they can't handle the pressure or they're just complacent or whatever it might be. You can think of all those things in your head and then you can convince yourself of them but that might not be the reality of what's going on with your players and your team. So I often will bounce things off of him, sometimes strategically, but more so, like you said, from a mentoring standpoint when I just need to talk to somebody who can kind of get me going the right direction or get me to see the whole picture. Also he's one of those people that, win or lose, his reaction doesn't look a whole lot different. That's why he's been so successful and why he's been around this game so long. It's because he doesn't have the high highs and the low lows. He just loves and enjoys everyday and watching his team go out there and compete on any given Saturday. He's been incredible even when I was, obviously, a very young coach. It's not like I'm an old coach now but he definitely helped me out a little. I coached two of his daughters which could have been tough. You know, I was a young coach and I did some pretty ridiculous things, probably, looking back now. But he never had anything to say to me about giving me suggestions when I didn't go ask him first. I always respected that and appreciated it. But, it's funny too because my husband played at Princeton and he played for coach Tierney and coach Tierney is somebody I've watched and I used to go talk to him when I was a player. So he's also been a great person to bounce things off at times. So to go from watching coach Tierney to watching coach Urick, two coaches that were on the opposite ends of the spectrum, you can learn a little something from both of them.

TOYOTA Video Clip of the Week!

E-LACROSSE: When you won in '94 didn't Princeton men's also win?

SIMONS: Yeah, my husband was actually on the '92 team, which was the first Championship team.

E-LACROSSE: So you guys are like a national championship family over there.

SIMONS: We were both pretty fortunate. That probably motivated me subconsciously. I figured if we were to stay together, I'd have to win a national championship (laugh).

E-LACROSSE: Just so our readers are able to understand what you meant when you said earlier that he's a resident. This is the final step in a medical education?

SIMONS: Yes. He has a 5-year residency and he's in his 5th year. He's a Chief Resident at Hopkins. He actually helped out with our team last year. He was our volunteer assistant. He had research so he had some extra time so he came and helped out with the team and he was on the sideline for much of our games including our national championship and that was just a blast. I thought the team really enjoyed having a guy around to talk to him about shooting and he was pretty laid back with them. And also for him to be able to do something that's a little bit more relaxing than life and death excitement of Hopkins hospital was great.

E-LACROSSE: How does that relationship work anyway? Like at Maryland the team called Mrs. Edell, "Mom". Does the spouse play a role in women's the way they do sometimes in the men's game?

SIMONS: I think they do. I've always appreciated the fact that my husband has done a good job of being very supportive and really supporting my career. A lot of people, you think, Oh he's a doctor and his career's more important and he's put in more time, you know. But he's always really valued what I do and then when he comes to the games and when he talks to the players and things, he doesn't try to go at it from a coaching perspective or from somebody who had the inside scoop because he's my husband. He's just a real positive person and he really just has been a good influence on me and even sometimes on our team, especially last year because he just thinks it's the most fun in the world. He was like that as a player and now he's like that when he's around the team.

E-LACROSSE: There's a phrase, "It's not hospital" meaning nobody's going to live or die based on our decisions. He may really enjoy that part of his life where it's not hospital.

SIMONS: It also gives me perspective obviously and again, he's not someone who bashes it over my head to say like, "Oh, you're just trying to win lacrosse games and it's not life and death." But there are times when I come home and I'm just really annoyed by something or maybe a loss or whatever and I'll say well how was your day and he'll give me some story and it stops you cold. You realize what we do, it's a whole lot of fun, but it's not life and death. Really what we're doing is trying to provide a great experience and a growing and learning experience for the young women we coach and if we happen to win along the way, that makes it that much more fun.

E-LACROSSE: I want to give you a chance to tell folks about the Tewaaraton Award. You're the Womens' Selection Committee Chairman and I know that it only started last year but there must have been an awful lot of work that needed to be done just to get the thing going.

SIMONS: I played a part in it but there's actually a whole committee of individuals who are incredibly motivated. The University Club over in DC has basically been the key. There's a group over there that spearheaded this whole committee and this award. Peter Farrell, who played Georgetown lacrosse here; he's the one who got coach Urick and I involved and he's one of the people who started this whole idea of the Heisman Trophy of lacrosse. It was great that he included us along with men's lacrosse. I thought that made it a great event and I just have to say that the way that they've done this award is really impressive; the actual event, the award itself. I thought it was first class. Really, it honored the individuals in a way they should be honored. I think they all walked away, the parents and the players, feeling special about their accomplishments and that's really what the goal is. I think it's a terrific award. It's really taken off. You think, well gosh, when they first said it was going to be a Tewaaraton award, I was like Jeeze, people can't spell it, much less say it, so maybe it's going to get lost in the shuffle. And it really hasn't. Being involved in it is fun and we've got a great committee. I think this year is going to be interesting and I think last year, all though there were some great candidates in the finals, I think a lot of us knew that Jen Adams was going to be the one. And this year, I think it's really going to be a toss up and it will be fun to see how it goes. The anticipation of who's going to get the award is going to be great.

The 2002 Hoyas

E-LACROSSE: Is it more fun without Maryland or somebody out there just being "unstoppable"

SIMONS: No, I never really think that any team is unstoppable. We approached things that way, anytime we played Maryland or any of the really tough teams. The thing I really liked and still enjoy about playing a team like Maryland is that it really pushes us as coaches to our limit. Every game and every season when you play a team like Maryland, whether it's Maryland or a different team this year, you have to really think about how your going to get your team prepared mentally and strategically. Those kind of games really force you as a coach to work hard and to get your team prepared. We knew, last year, that if we made it to the finals which was obviously our goal, the chances of us playing Maryland was pretty darn high. And we knew that there's only one day between the semis and the finals. So a lot of what we did throughout the year to prepare us just to win in general also took into account how we would be able to play Maryland in the championship if that were to come true. We were lucky enough to have that happen and unfortunately we just came a few seconds short and a couple shots wide of realizing that but it still doesn't diminish what the team was able to accomplish.

E-LACROSSE: Do a lot of the girls from that game want it even worse this year?

SIMONS: You know, that's a hard thing to say. I mean I don't know if you could have wanted it worst than Sheehan Stanwick. Or McLean or Bowen Holden. I mean, they're very hungry this year. But that group last year those seven seniors came here when it wasn't an easy decision to come here. When Sheehan Stanwick decided to come to Georgetown, people thought she was nuts. They couldn't figure it out. They'd seen other coaches telling her "You'll never be able to compete for a national championship." or "You won't make the US team." and "Why do you want to go to this program? They're not proven." and it didn't matter. She made the decision, she took that step and that whole group did the same thing. Bowen Holden came out of nowhere as a transfer student. It was kind of one of those classes that seemed right. With Sarah Ogelsby, the joke is that she wanted to come here so badly that she stalked me. She used to come to the games and show up, like, "Here I am again! I want to come to Georgetown!" and look what she was able to do both in Field hockey and lacrosse. It was just this team that kind of felt like they had a destiny to be here and they were on a mission to prove that they could build this program despite what anyone else thought. So they'll always hold a special place in my heart because of the fact that they did it when it was tough. Not that the girls coming in here now aren't still making the sacrifices and working really hard. But there's still a difference when now, when you say you're going to Georgetown, it's not quite the same reaction and they know what to expect when they get here. They benefit from the senior class last year and others who laid the ground work for a winning tradition. And that's a lot more important than just having a winning season.

April, 2002