Q&A with Kara MiduraEast Ridge / Woodbury girls lacrosse coach talks about the sport she loves.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, South Washington County Bulletin
What’s your background in lacrosse?
I’ve been coaching lacrosse for nine years and playing for 12 or so. I have learned a lot about the sport over the years. I started at a club level just trying to grow the interest in the sport and have been gaining knowledge and strategies ever since.
Where are you from?
I’m from Hastings. I was living in Plymouth for the past three years but recently moved back to Hastings.
What are your high school and college alma maters?
I graduated from Hastings High School and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I played college club lacrosse for two years. Maria Hockert and I were the captains and coaches organizing, coordinating and planning everything. I ran practices, pulled together interested candidates and taught them the basics. We put together the ever so popular “River Falls Playday” that still takes place every year, where all the colleges come for the weekend and play each other. We did pretty good but again it was still so small and new that I had to play most games all the way through with no substitutes.
What’s your coaching philosophy?
Make progress and have fun. Every year, every season, every game and every practice will bring new challenges. As the sport evolves some players will have years of stick experience but no understanding of a certain aspect of the game. While others will have years of field knowledge and strategies but will still need to refine their stick skills. Each year coaching challenges me by giving me different skills to focus on, more strategies to learn, and more personalities and motivational aspects to figure out. But I have to see the future and determine what progress can be made and is achievable. This allows me and my team — regardless of the scores or the rankings — the ability to be happy with the progress we are making in the present, stay challenged, and have fun doing so.
What specific coaches do you look up to?
Judy Baxter — she’s the Eden Prairie head coach. She’s taught me a lot about how to break specific pieces of teaching a skill down. She’s helped me figure out how to keep a drill fun but challenging, has related to me on many levels, and has given much encouragement over the years. Janet Holdsworth — she’s the U of M head coach — as I have played with her and by talking with others she has coached, it is clear that she meets every player where they are at, she has also given me many drills and ideas as to how to teach the game, and built programs that I model today.
What are your goals with the program?
I want to grow the program. I want it to be something players want to work hard to be on but also something they look to as a fun way to enjoy their athletic experience. I want Woodbury to be the hub of the East Side of the Twin Cities Girls Lacrosse growth — that’s why we’re hosting the first ever full-field summer games for high school players.
What’s your favorite sports memory?
My favorite sports memory is with my high school lacrosse team. We were all brand new to the sport and we played in a ponding basin that was super wet the entire season. One time it rained so hard and we all ended up slipping and falling in the mud. You’d go to catch the ball and it would fling out due to the rain. It was frustrating at first, but after we all understood that it was out of our control we started to laugh about it. I just remember being invigorated by the silliness of it all and the team-ness we felt having to triumph through the weather.
Another memory is trying out for the USA team. This was an incredible memory as well. Being that lacrosse was in its infant stages while I was in high school I did not have the opportunity to play on any “elite” teams. In April 2010 I decided I was going to tryout for the USA team — as that was my only option for elite teams now that I’m an “older graduate” or a post-collegiate as they like to call it. I trained as much as I could, flew out to Maryland with a fellow post-collegiate player, got our USA pinnies and were surrounded with the best players in the nation. It was an amazing experience and one that I will not forget easily. I learned a lot of the things I am teaching to the team today — things like boxing out on the draws, continuous offense and defense and more stick techniques. It’s like football and soccer out east — I went to the Women’s Lacrosse NCAA playoff championships while I was there and the entire stadium was packed full — it was awesome!
What do you like to do off the field?
I like to joke around and laugh while being with friends and family because I know how hard life can be but want to enjoy as much of it as I can. I play other sports too, sing/play instruments and cook.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Right now my favorite TV show is Parenthood. It’s serious, funny, and teaches realistic daily life lessons.
What are your favorite sports teams? (besides your own)
The Woodbury boys lacrosse team. It’s amazing to see them move the ball — they are so quick and aggressive. I like seeing them work together as a team — you can tell they know their plays and I really get a lot of ideas watching them play and/or practice for drills and ways to teach different skills in the girls game. Also, the Twins because baseball was the first sport I ever played and the Twins will always be the first team I looked up to. Plus who could not like Joe Mauer? And the Vikings because I love seeing the similarities between football and lacrosse and seeing Brett Favre drop step, read the field, and connect with a teammate down the line.
Who’s your favorite athlete?
Michael Jordan. I know it’s old school but he was an incredible athlete, worked hard to get that way, played with sportsmanship, and had integrity off the court as well. One of my others is Chris Carter — he really was so fast at getting down the field, great at being able to read and react to plays, and caught the ball with some amazing moves. Plus he had integrity and seemed to always give credit to those who deserved it.
What advice do you have for young players?
Get comfortable with your stick. Throw the ball up to yourself and catch it all around your body. Play wall ball as much as possible. This is the essential part to growing the sport in the years to come — getting young players used to catching and passing with a stick and the comfortableness of it being an extension of your body. Set small goals for yourself and work at achieving them each day!