NEWINGTON - The Newington girls lacrosse team may be just 2-4 to start the season, but the Indians already feel better off than they did last year.
The aura surrounding the team is very different and more positive compared to previous seasons, multiple parents admitted as they watched the team fall to Conard on Tuesday. The belief is that the atmosphere is better due to a new, young and energetic coaching staff.
The team is coached by Allison Hoffman, who leads a coaching staff full of rookie coaches, all former Newington lacrosse players.
“I’m really excited about our coaching staff because we’re all alumni. We’re all from Newington. We all played for this program, so it means so much more for us,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman also shared how the coaches are familiar with each other because some of them actually played together while at Newington, like Hoffman and assistant coach Jalen Middlebrooks.
Middlebrooks is the most energetic person on the Newington sideline, calling plays, interacting with fans and even talking to the referees from time to time. Middlebrooks’ passion shows through as loud as her voice, something she takes as a compliment. But she also thinks it’s best to keep a positive attitude, especially in a game where the team is struggling.
“You have to have a little humor somewhere, even in the bad,” Middlebrooks said. “We crack jokes with one another. We still get hyped whenever we get a turnover or something, even if we’re losing by 20. All of the little things matter and we make sure we look at the positive side of things.”
But perhaps her biggest contribution to the team is her experience. After graduating from Newington High School, Middlebrooks went on to play Division I college lacrosse as a walk-on player at St. Bonaventure University. She discussed how she uses her experience to keep the players motivated on the field.
“Being a walk-on at a Division I team, adversity means nothing to me,” Middlebrooks said. “So, I feel like I am able to do anything, which is the mentality I want our girls to have also, so we’re not going to give up early. We’re going to face every challenge and just give it our hardest.”
Regardless of the below-par results on the field right now, the culture surrounding Newington girls lacrosse has taken a turn for the better. Hoffman, Middlebrooks and the rest of the coaching staff have created a positive and welcome attitude surrounding the program for the first time in years.
“We have a new definition to Newington lacrosse. A new identity, if you will,” Middlebrooks said. “Before it was very negative, a lot of giving up early. But this time, we don’t really care who we’re facing or anything like that. We’re going in hard and will face the challenge.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org