BOULDER-CU's new lacrosse coach, Ann Elliott, was announced at a press conference on March 26, 2012. CU Chancellor Dr. Phil DiStefano, athletic director Mike Bohn and associate AD Julie Manning all spoke along with Elliott. The transcript follows:
CU Associate Athletic Director Julie Manning
“Good afternoon everyone, it is a great, great pleasure to be here this afternoon in this historic and inaugural occasion as the University of Colorado continues to move forward with the journey of launching women’s lacrosse. We have had a tremendous search process that has been executed over the last several weeks and we’d like to go ahead and announce our head coach. Before we get started with that, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Julie Manning and I am an associate director here and I had the great pleasure of chairing the search for our coach. The entire process, Ann Elliott, who you’ll get to know here shortly, was just a standout. She did an amazing job presenting herself and her credentials are amazing. As I said, you’ll have an opportunity to meet her. Before we get too deep into the program, I wanted to have an opportunity to introduce our Chancellor Phil DiStefano, he is certainly a wonderful leader in the athletics department. We wouldn’t be down this wonderful journey without him and his support. Please join me in welcoming him to the stage.”
CU Chancellor Dr. Phil DiStefano
“Thank you Julie and good afternoon to everybody. Before I just say a few words, I wanted to introduce one of our regents, Regent Emeriti Pete Steinhauer, Pete thank you for being here. It was about two years ago when the boards of regents accepted the Pac-12 invitation to join the conference. I was asked if CU was going to add a new sport, either a men or women’s sport, and I remember standing in this room saying ‘absolutely we are going to add a women’s sport’ and now I can enthusiastically say that time is here and I am so excited about adding women’s lacrosse.
“This is the first time in 16 years that we are adding a new sport at CU. And the addition of women lacrosse gives us 17 NCAA sports, 10 of which are women’s sports. And lacrosse is not only a great sport, but it is an extremely viable sport for us given the popularity across Colorado and the nation. Women’s lacrosse at the high school level is the fastest growing sport in Colorado and across the nation. And lacrosse both men and women is the fastest growing at the NCAA level, and further we recognize the Importance of bolstering our participation in women’s sport and meeting out Title IX obligations and today is a tremendously exciting day for all of us for CU Boulder and for all of our tremendous student-athletes.
“These athletes and their new coach can always say they were here form the beginning building a new program from the ground up. They will establish the culture of this team for years to come. And it is notable that our Pac-12 peers, USC and Oregon have recently added lacrosse, as well. And especially given lacrosse’s popularity, I believe CU and our four pac-12 counter parts will get plenty of air time on the new Pac-12 Network. I think we are in for an exciting and rewarding time with women’s lacrosse here on CU’s campus and the person behind this exciting growth is our athletic director Mike Bohn.”
CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn
“Thank you chancellor, it is always a pleasure to be able to share the stage with Phil. I think he talked about our committed to sports but he is in the trenches with us every day and I salute campus for allowing us to start a lacrosse program. You can’t help but smile when you look across the room and see young women and girls and coaches that are a part of lacrosse in our community and how excited they are to see the field painted.
“Obviously that is a big deal for us so you start thinking, what were we looking in a head coach? You start thinking about passion and you start thinking about someone who eats, drinks and dreams lacrosse. I think we found that coach. I think there is no question that someone that can help us with unexplored territory here in the state of Colorado. It is going to take someone with incredible poise, someone with competitive grit, and stature to take it on and come out and go through the unchartered waters with us. It takes big dreams and to chase those. It was no question that coach Elliott has a clear and dynamic vision that’s where we want to go and that’s what helped her distinguish herself as the coach that we wanted to be here at the University of Colorado so please help me welcome the head coach of the Colorado’s Lacrosse Program Ann Elliott.
CU Head Lacrosse Coach Ann Elliot:
“Well thank you guys all for being here. I think I’ll just get started with a couple of remarks, and if anybody has questions I’d love to answer them.
“Obviously I want to start by saying it’s always been a dream of mine to be able to build a program. I come from Northwestern University. Nine years ago I started there as a player when Kelly Amonte Hiller was building her program so I got to be a part of that and build that tradition and since then work under her and continue to work with that program and sustain its success. So building a program has always been a dream of mine. So to come here to Colorado to CU, it’s an incredible opportunity for me and I want to make sure to thank the people that made that possible.
“To start, Mike (Bohn), Julie (Manning) and the entire search committee and athletic department here to give me the opportunity and believing in me. My parents, they came out today and I’m fortunate enough to come out and make the trip and be here to support me. Kelly Amonte Hiller and her husband Scott and Dr. Phillips at Northwestern for preparing me over the past nine years to be able to take on this opportunity and build this program from the ground up. Of those people there are many more who I haven’t thanked, have really helped me get really prepared and excited to be out here and take this on and lead the CU lacrosse program.
“When you think about building a program and leaving a great institution like Northwestern, for me, you think about the type of place you want to come and what university is going to be successful. I think CU is that exact place. It has everything. It is definitely a world class institution. You talk about athletics, a great institution, we already talked about how we play in the Pac-12 and lacrosse will play in a different conference, but it is still Pac-12 sports.
“Over the past month, I’ve got to follow Colorado sports and follow the men and women’s basketball and that to me has been extremely exciting to watch the men win the Pac-12 Championship and go on the NCAA Tournament and the women and their awesome run in the NIT tournament. You just know there are great athletics and it just comes from the great support, and it comes from this department all the way from the chancellor to the athletic director.
“You talk about a world class community and, that’s Boulder and Colorado in general. Last night I told the story a little bit, Mike and his wife picked me up at the airport and we went to dinner and stopped for some ice cream and went to the hotel. So the three places we went, we met three different people who were extremely passionate and they had gone here to CU and they were extremely passionate about being a Buff. The waitress at dinner said watching the Pac-12 Championship, she almost cried. It just shows how supportive the community is and how much everyone is invested.
“When I was out here for my visit, both teams were getting ready for the Pac-12 Tournament and there was a small pep rally and I learned about how Mike was sponsoring 50 fans to go to the championship and this group was going to go to all the games, men and women’s and I think that shows the commitment to athletics and I knew right there that this was the type of school I wanted to build a program at. The type of commitment and support to all of their athletes was what I was looking for. Obviously you talk about the academics side as well. You have great premiere academics here so when I think about going to a place and building a program, you want to go to an institution that has that world-class experience: academically, athletically and socially. For being here for a short time, it is clear to me that CU is that place. I am so honored to be here and have the opportunity to build the program from the ground up, so thank you.”
On Who Her Mentors Are
“Kelly Amonte Hiller has been a great mentor, first as a coach, then as someone I worked beside as a coach. I learned it’s a process to get to where you want to go. It takes a lot of hard work and you have to be able to put in the time. From Kelly, I learned she is one of the hardest working people I know, there’s really no stopping when you put your mind to something, you’re going to go all in and do the best you can. It takes a lot of hard work, there are definitely a lot of ups and downs and obstacles and challenges and it’s about how you respond. Having a positive attitude through it all and taking it all head on and learning and growing from.
“It’s really about the small things and building a culture, and that everyone is kind of buying into the same principles. You establish that culture and core values, and everyone from the top of the athletic department all the way down to the players believe in the same thing, and the same mission and they’re all working to get better one step at a time. When I first took my trip out here, I learned a lot about the values and principles of the CU athletic department and it was really neat to see they were all right in line with the values and principles I have for myself, which I will implement as I build this program.”
On Starting A Program From Scratch Opposed To Coaching An Established Program
“I think starting a program, as I said has always been a dream of mine. I think a lot of it is based on where I came from. I came from Northwestern and I got a chance to be a part of that program to begin with. I know how special it is to be a part of that first National Championship and to see something grow into a national championship contender and to have pride in all the hard work it takes. I think it is something very special to be the first program and first head coach and to establish that culture and the foundation that a program can build on for the next several years.
On Not Being Able To Sell Recruits On CU’s Lacrosse History
“I maybe can’t sell CU lacrosse history here but I think the tradition of athletics here at CU is something you can sell. The traditions here, academically, athletically, socially here in Boulder, one of the greatest college towns, a destination point for so many people. There is so much history that can be sold based on this school. On the lacrosse side, you’re exactly right, there isn’t history yet but there is the vision that I have and the experience I am bringing based on my opportunities that we will bring here and carry over a lot. There will be experience of my staff as well, we don’t have the history of lacrosse yet but we will get there and we will build off of the great history that is already here at CU.”
On Being At CU A Year Before The Program Starts Play In 2014
“Obviously having that year is a great opportunity and if we had to start this fall, because we wouldn’t really have any players to compete, so it is definitely nice to have that window to really dedicate some time to find the right players and recruits that are going to be invested in CU that are willing to work hard and buying into our vision and mission. So having that time is going to be great, it is going to be nice too to be able to get ready here so we can play in 2014.”
On Lacrosse Talent In Colorado
“I think when we think about recruiting, Colorado has great talent, it is emerging more and more every year, you’re getting great players and athletes and you’re getting kids that are already invested in Colorado that already love this town and state and those are the things we’re looking for as we build this program. We are going to draw right from here and would love to keep the talent from Colorado in Colorado; we’ll go outside a little bit too and recruit from the traditional areas and nontraditional areas. The most important thing when I think about recruiting is to make sure we are recruiting the right student athletes that are going to fit CU and our program and buy into everything.”
On Recruiting Areas
“In my history and overall in terms of camps, and things I’ve done, we’ve looked at the west coast and Colorado, not necessarily have we drawn a lot of kids yet, but we have been there recruiting. Things haven’t worked out, but we have drawn from a lot of nontraditional places like Texas, and the Midwest. From my experience, my first year out of college, I spent nine months before I took the job at Northwestern and I went around to all these different areas and started clinics and building relationships in these other areas like California, Texas, etc.
On Selling CU To East Coast Kids
“We will definitely want to draw from those hotbeds and traditional areas, but some of the names are already there. People are already interested in Colorado. They love this location, it is a destination point. This school has the best there is to offer, academically, athletically, and socially. So we are going to continue to build off of that and we will continue to build lacrosse too, so as we establish our team, the name and Colorado Lacrosse is doing the recruiting for itself. A lot of the recruiting is building relationships with the players and coaches as much as you can.”
On Teaching Lacrosse Basics To The Community
“It is going to be a goal of myself and my staff to be out in the community as much as possible. We love lacrosse, as Mike said, we eat, sleep, drink and dream it. I love it and to be able to share it with the community is going to be a huge priority of mine and it’s something I am looking forward to, whether it is explaining the rules or actually coaching, I am looking forward to it.
On Her Staff
“Right now we are in the middle of the lacrosse season, and I am in the middle of my season, so I am doing the best I can to do both. I am going to finish out my season at Northwestern, and I’ve had a few ideas of staff and obviously they are still coaching and in the middle of their seasons, but once that are all over, we will get into announcing the staff and getting going. The latest will be Memorial Day. I am hoping to be busy up until then.”
On Hurdles And Obstacles Building A Program
There are going to be lots of obstacles and hurdles building this program from day one. I am going to lean on the people around me, here in this great athletic department and community and there are going to be people who can help a lot. Outside of here, Kelly has been through the building process before and she is going to be someone I am going to rely on. One of my good friends , Lindsay Munday is also out at USC and they are in a similar situation and they are about a year ahead of us and she is someone too that is going to be helpful in terms of guiding through and how they went about things step-by-step.”
On Scheduling USC And Northwestern
“We will be playing Lindsay and I am looking forward to that and it would be an honor to play Northwestern. It is a great program and a well-coached program, and for our program to play them would be a great opportunity.”
On The Type Of Player She Wants
“Outside of academics, I am looking for athletes and kids that are willing to work hard, that’s the most important thing in building this program. You want the hard working kids that aren’t going to stop at anything, because it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get this program where we want it go to.
“That’s the biggest thing when I’m out recruiting, good athletes, good kids, kids that are invested and doing the right things on and off the field, and that are willing to work hard, not just on the lacrosse field but in the classroom as well.”
On Why Lacrosse Is Growing Nationally
“It’s a great sport. People are becoming more and more aware of it everywhere. For the most part, it’s an easy sport to pick up, there’s not a lot that goes along with it, especially on the women’s side. Goggles, mouth guards, sticks. It’s an exciting sport, it’s something different. It’s a fun sport, there’s not that much learning involved to begin with, if you’re a good athlete, you can pick it up quick and learn to love it.”
On Learning The CU Fight Song
“I know some of it. I was told I wouldn’t have to sign it today.”
On CU Recruiting Before She Was Hired
“For me, it’s OK. Truthfully, what it shows me is that is shows me CU is committed to this program, and they’re as excited as it as I am and they’re excited to get started.”
On CU’s Facilities
“All the facilities here I’ve seen, both for the school in general and for athletics, it’s amazing. If you could look out the window, it’s picturesque, it’s everything you could imagine it would be. Here, they have great facilities, there are a lot of facilities available for our program. There hasn’t been a final decision yet on how everything’s going to go, but grass fields, turf fields, the bubble for the winter, the facilities are in great shape and it’s going to be exciting. For any recruit, the opportunity to play some of our games on Folsom Field is incredible. You can’t imagine wanting something better or something more than what you have right there. That’s an exciting opportunity. It’s going to be exciting for our first game to have an opportunity to play on this field, run behind Ralphie and have the whole team there, have that tradition and celebrate in that tradition. From my perspective, the facilities are state-of-the-art here, we’re looking forward to playing on them and looking forward to the growth that’s happening here.
On How Excited She Is
“I’m incredible excited. This is a dream for me, I couldn’t think of a better place to come and start a program, a better place to live, just in general. Obviously, I have commitments still at Northwestern, I’m very committed there right now and very excited about what’s going on there, but that’s not taking away from my excitement to be out here and in a couple of months when that season is over, I’ll be excited to be out here and get started.”
On If The Significance Of The Story Has Sunk In Yet
“It has occurred to me that this is a historic event. I’m the first coach and this is the first-ever lacrosse program here. It is incredible exciting, it’s an honor to be standing here, it’s still kind of hitting me, but I think in a few months when I get out here, there’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s going to be fun and hard.”