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Coaches / Staff
Ever since she stepped into the lacrosse coaching world, Jen O’Brien had the goal of one day starting her own program. With lacrosse being one of the fastest growing sports in the country, she knew that it would happen eventually, but the right timing had to be in place.
That timing came in the form of VCU, where O’Brien is the first head coach in program history. The program began intercollegiate play in 2015-16 the right way under O’Brien’s guidance, as the program won it's inaugeral game 21-9 over Gardner-Webb on Feb. 14, 2016. Both Sky Hyatt and Molly Barcikowski earned A-10 All-Rookie honors under her guidance as well.
“Starting the program on the right track from day one was our goal and that’s what we’re getting with Jen. We’re excited to have a proven winner to build the foundation of our women’s lacrosse program,” McLaughlin said. “She brings a tremendous amount of energy to VCU and has a outstanding track record as a coach as well as a player. She also has great ties to the Maryland region, which is known nationally as a hotbed for lacrosse."
Tara Coyle enters her second season on the coaching staff for VCU Women's Lacrosse in 2017.
Coyle brings a life-long passion for lacrosse, which was displayed during her four-year career at the University of Richmond. She was an All-Conference midfielder and served as the Spiders' captain during her senior season in 2013. She also served as a coach for the Blue Chip Recruiting Camp and the Long Island Yellow Jackets Lacrosse Club back home in Farmingdale, N.Y.
"For a young coach, Tara brings a great deal of real world and coaching experience to the table. Lacrosse has always been a major passion of Tara's and I am thrilled to be working alongside someone who is so eager to learn. Tara was a leader and quarterback on the defensive end of the field for the University of Richmond and we will utilize her experiences as she works with our midfield and defensive units," Head Coach Jen O'Brien said. "It is a major bonus that Tara is so familiar and fond of the city of Richmond. Living so close to campus, she has a great understanding of the VCU culture and appreciates what makes us unique. I also look forward to taking advantage of the tremendous relationship Tara has maintained with her hometown community of Farmingdale, NY, home to one of the top high school programs in the country. Tara will no doubt be a phenomenal role model for our student-athletes and quickly become an integral part of the VCU community."
Liz French enters first season as an Assistant Coach in 2016-17. French has been a member of the lacrosse staff as both a volunteer coach and a graduate assistant and helped the program launch its inaugural season in 2015-16. A native of Sykesville, Maryland, Liz French attended Shippensburg University and received her degree in Accounting in 2014.
During her undergraduate studies, she was a member of the Shippensburg women’s lacrosse team, a lacrosse representative for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and president of Tau Kappa Women’s Athletic Honors Sorority. She received first-team all-conference honors her four years at Shippensburg and was selected to participate in the IWLCA DII North/South Senior All-Star game in 2014.
During her career, French posted numbers that rank among SU's all-time statistical leaders in groundballs (158), draw controls (167) and caused turnovers (63). She started all 67 games for the Raiders since 2011, adding 11 goals and five assists during that stretch.
Ellis joins the staff as a graduate assistant after graduating from Winthrop University in 2016 where she was a member of the inaugural women’s lacrosse team. A native of Annapolis, Maryland, Ellis played in 75 career games for the Eagles and scored 75 goals with 85 assists.
"We are excited to welcome Dani to VCU after serving as a member of Winthrop's inaugural team. Her experience with a successful new lacrosse program will no doubt serve us well. Dani has played at a high level from her time at St. Mary's HS in Maryland to her time at Winthrop, and brings a high lacrosse IQ and excitement to our team," said O’Brien.