Over the past couple of weeks, Horseheads graduate and former division one girls lacrosse player Shelby Davis got the opportunity of a lifetime, to go to the 2017 FIL Rathbones Women's Lacrosse World Cup in England. The second year head coach led Germany to a 5-2 overall record at the World Cup after taking over the program as the head coach last July.
The Leader was able to ask Shelby a couple of questions about her experience with the team and Blue Raider roots.
The Leader: How did you come across the offer to coach the German national team?
Shelby Davis: Last year I did a master's at Durham University (Durham, England), where I was scholarship athlete for the university's lacrosse team, and ended up being a player-coach very early into the season. One of my teammates at Durham was on the German National team. As a player, I joined her at a few fun tournaments in Germany. During this time I met the assistant coach for the national team. She put me in contact with the head coach with the expectation to come a join a camp, as a coach, in February of 2016... excited to broaden my coaching experience, I happily accepted the offer.
From this camp in February, there was discussion around me joining the team as a defensive coach with indication around the (former) head coach resigning and me taking over the program (as head coach). As these discussions became more concrete we began a 3 month hand over process to become the head coach, where I continued with the team as the defensive coach leading up to the announcement of me taking over the program in July 2016.
TL: How much of a culture shock was it to go to Germany and coach the girls?
SD: There are tendencies and personality traits that are common and specific to Germans that require a small adaptation of my coaching or organizing. It continues to be a learning curve of recognizing those aspects and catering my coaching style or delivery to best suit their learning.
Thankfully, all of the players are fluent in English, so language has been a minimal concern in the transition to coaching. Our assistant attacking coach and goalie coach are both German and coach mainly in German - it is a great combination to express ideas and concepts in two languages to fully cover all aspects that might not be said as effectively in one or the other language (this is equally as true for team talks).
TL: How do you think your time at Horseheads prepared you for this next challenge?
SD: My time at Horseheads, which seems both like yesterday and so long ago... shaped me in many ways. Where I am now took many steps and without any part of my past, I would not be where I am right now.
During my time at Horseheads, I was pushed and encouraged to perform at a level I was never quite confident I was capable of performing at in high school. I played JV as an 8th grader and transitioned to varsity as a freshman; these experiences were beneficial from an athletic point of view, but also shaped my maturity and passion for the sport. This was the beginning of my grit development - it was a challenge to persevere to reach a level of fitness/skill/mental ability to perform at the level that was expected of me.
Horseheads hold their athletes to a standard of athleticism, while also instilling the importance of maintaining a high standard to academics. Retrospectively, I found the balance because I had to and with little conscious thought; these skills set the foundation for how I was going to cope with being a division 1 student-athlete, moving to England to a coach a high school team, unintentionally becoming a player-coach at Durham university, or coaching in a World Cup... these skills began at Horseheads and continue to develop along my journey.