Each time Sara Evans opens her locker before practice, a quote pasted on the door reminds her that Penn's new lacrosse coach Karin Brower expects her to take risks on the field. The quote is one of many that hangs in the Quakers' locker room -- each one chosen by Brower to reach a different team member. "The quotes are personalized. They remind her of one of us, or of what we should be working on or thinking about," Evans said. "Mine happens to be about taking risks and such because I'm a defender and I know I need to do that." According to Evans, the quotes are just one way that Brower, a former Princeton assistant coach, shows a commitment to helping each of her new players. Evans said this personal attention is a welcomed change from the coaching system that Anne Sage piloted from the start of Penn's lacrosse program until last season when her players successfully petitioned to have her removed. "She's individualized the coaching more than has been done in the past. She's made an effort to show that she's trying to get to know us, and help us, and make us better lacrosse players," Evans said. But that is not the only thing Brower has changed. When asked what else she brought to the Penn women's lacrosse program, Evans chuckled and said, "She brought a program." The Quakers had been without a head coach since the start of the 1999 season, and problems with Sage's system date back years before then. In fact, junior goalkeeper Christian Stover said Sage's own assistant Alanna Wren -- who served as an interim coach last season -- knew her mentor's shortcomings all too well. "[Wren] played under Sage through college, and she found the same problems when she was there that we went through," Stover said. "I think she supported [the petition], even though she never really said so. I think she was proud of us that we did step up and do something because it had been a problem for a while." Hopefully, Brower has brought a program that resembles the one she left behind in Princeton. The Tigers went to the NCAA Tournament in all three years that Brower was there. Penn's coach assisted in Old Nassau from 1996-98. "In the beginning, we kind of made jokes about the fact that Princeton is our rival, but it doesn't affect us much," Stover said. "It's definitely good that she comes from such a high-caliber program." But Brower's coaching career began well before her Princeton days. Prior to joining the Tigers, the 1992 William and Mary graduate served as Villanova's assistant lacrosse coach, William and Mary's assistant field hockey coach and Division III Drew's head lacrosse coach. Brower won two conference titles in two years at Drew and then moved on to Princeton. Following a year-long respite, she will now try to help the Quakers rebuild from their 1-12 mark last season. "[Brower] basically brought the things that you normally take for granted as a team member -- the intensity, the challenge, the goals, the positive attitude," Evans said. "Especially for the older players, she's helped to remind us of all the simple things. She's brought back the fundamental ideals of the team." In addition to improving her current squad, Brower also seems better than Sage at finding new talent for the future. Brower said that with the increasing number of scholarship programs around the nation, today's Ivy League lacrosse coaches must put more effort into the recruiting process. "I think sports has changed and I think that some of the older coaches' philosophies haven't changed. They didn't actively recruit. That wasn't why they started coaching. They coached because they loved to coach -- not to recruit -- and it's definitely a huge part of the job and you have to love to do that," Brower said. "I don't think [Sage] went out and recruited a lot because that's not how it was when she first started." Sage's laid-back recruiting style seemed to correlate with her attitude toward college athletics as a whole. "Sage's style of recruiting was far less intense because her opinion was that you come to school to go to school and playing lacrosse is whatever," Evans said. "In a sense that's a somewhat good attitude, but that doesn't create a winning team." Stover feels Brower's practices are better recipes for success. "Practices are structured to the minute," Stover said. "And she changes it up everyday, so we're never really doing the same thing twice. We might be working on the same things, but in a different style so it keeps us excited and it and it doesn't get monotonous." Something that certainly got monotonous last season was Penn's losing ways. The Quakers' only victory came against Columbia midway through the season -- embedded in 12 disheartening losses. While Brower's addition obviously cannot erase the past, she might be the key to turning things around for the future.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.