When the Liberty women's lacrosse team plays at Gardner-Webb on Wednesday, they will see a familiar face to the program on the opposing sideline.
Gardner-Webb Head Lacrosse Coach Jill Krick is no stranger to Liberty University. The Bulldogs' second-year head coach played in 57 games for the Lady Flames from 2011-14 as a defender, making 47 starts.
Krick tallied a career-best 24 ground balls as a junior in 2014, which was tied for the fifth-most on the squad.
Krick graduated in May 2013 with a bachelor's degree in family and child development with a minor in psychology. She went on to earn a master's degree in human services: criminal justice from Liberty in 2014.
LibertyFlames.com had the opportunity to catch up with Krick prior to Wednesday's contest between Liberty and Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C.
Krick (left) in a Liberty uniform in 2013 and (right) with Liberty head coach Kelly Nangle.
Did you always envision yourself and aspire to coach lacrosse, or how did it happen that you became the coach at GWU?Krick: I did not always envision myself coaching lacrosse. I originally planned on going into some form of occupation in social work. But when the opportunity came up to get into coaching, I wanted to give it a try. Gardner-Webb has similar values to mine, and I felt welcomed when I was on campus. Coach Nangle was extremely influential during that time. She has been a great resource and support. I would not be where I am currently without her encouragement, advice and support.
What is the most rewarding part about coaching college lacrosse? Krick: I think the most rewarding thing about coaching is the relationships with the players. At the end of the day, the impact a coach gets to make on his or her players is one that not many people get to experience. It's also so rewarding when you have a player who has been working hard on a technique and skill and one day it clicks. I love seeing them excited.
What do you miss most about being at Liberty on the women's lacrosse team? Krick: I would have to say what I miss most about being on the Liberty women's lacrosse team is the relationships with my teammates, coaches and support staff. Being a part of a team, you have 25 to 30 sisters and are a part of a family. That is something special, that I didn't really cherish until after I graduated. Looking back, you realize how special the time is with your team. I got to be a part of an incredible organization.
What was the most important lesson or thing you learned from being at Liberty and on the lacrosse team? Krick: I learned a lot of lessons during my time at Liberty as a student-athlete, and I don't know if I learned one that was greater than the rest. I do think I learned how important relationships were and still are with my teammates, coaches and support staff. I learned once I graduated and got into the coaching profession how much goes on behind the scenes that as an athlete, you don't realize. I have much more respect for my coaching staff. Coach Nangle did a lot for our team and for me that I did not fully understand until I became a head coach.
Did your walk with the Lord grow in your time at Liberty? If so, how? Krick: My walk with the Lord did grow while I was at Liberty. Liberty has plenty of options for students to grow such as convocation, Wednesday night church, as well as the faculty. Something unique to Liberty is convocation. I think Liberty does a great job bringing in a lot of different speakers who challenge the student body. I also chose to go to Liberty because of its Christian atmosphere, to be challenged in my faith, and to grow while I was there. I knew it was a great opportunity for me. The team also had a team Bible study. It was cool to learn from our coaches and teammates, by growing together and being challenged by each other, not only athletically but also spiritually.
Have you had a chance to follow Liberty lacrosse since you left? Krick: I do actually follow Liberty since I have left. It helps that they are in the same conference (Big South) as us. But even if we were not in the same conference, I would still follow them closely. The current seniors were freshmen when I was getting my graduate degree and playing. It's crazy that they are seniors and almost graduated.
Do you stay in touch with your former teammates? Krick: I do stay in touch with former teammates. The bonds you build over those four years are so strong. We went through so much together. I believe you have a special bond even if you don't see each other often or get to catch up regularly.
What was it like coaching against Liberty last year, and what do you think it'll be like hosting Liberty this Wednesday at Gardner-Webb? Krick: It is great coaching against Liberty. I love that they are in our conference. It gives me a chance to get to see them once during the year. It is great they will be on GWU turf. Last year, it was odd being in the visitors' locker room and on the visitors' side of the field. That was new for me, but it was great getting to go back and coach against Coach Nangle. She is an incredible coach.
What was the Liberty Lacrosse Alumni Day experience like for you back in the fall? Krick: It was so fun. Coach Nangle put on a great banquet and alumni game. It was fun playing against the current team. This past year was the most alumni I believe that had ever attended. We had teammates come from all over (Texas, Canada, etc.), and it was so fun getting to see former teammates who I haven't seen in a while. Coach Nangle also expressed the future plans for the program and how that ties into her vision for Liberty women's lacrosse.