“Lacrosse changed my life”

Girls lacrosse coaches share their love of the sport with players


Photo courtesy of Coach Brooke Kremer

Coaches Isabel Ward (left), Emma Sveen, and Brooke Kremer are three of the five girls lacrosse coaches.

Madeline Randa, Staff Writer

The varsity girls lacrosse team has five coaches, two who work at St. Pius X and three community coaches. Each has had their own unique life journey and the sport of lacrosse has been a vital part of it. One consistent theme among them all is the love for the girls. 

Coach Emma Sveen: “A lot of [the best of who I am] was learned on a lacrosse field.”

Head coach Emma Sveen has more than 15 years of experience playing and coaching lacrosse. She started playing when the sport was still relatively new to Colorado, where she grew up.

“I kind of started it for fun just to try something new and I loved it,” Sveen said.

She played in high school at Kent and on various club teams, then went on to play in college at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. After graduation, she played and coached in Norway for Team Oslo, which she led to the 2016 Norwegian National Championships. Following that, she played with the Norwegian National Team and was awarded the National MVP for Women’s Lacrosse by the Norwegian Lacrosse Association. 

She found her way to St. Pius X in 2020 through a friend. “She connected me with people that wound up getting in touch with Pius who needed a lacrosse coach,” said Sveen. 

She is currently a JD and MBA student at Emory. “I feel like I have a little bit of my student-athlete life back,” she said because when she’s not at school, she’s working with the lacrosse team. “I think that players would be surprised at just how much time we spend talking about the team, coaching, strategy, and planning the hours outside of practice.” 

Sveen said her life is very busy but, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Sveen learned the importance of time management from playing lacrosse and “learning how to time manage is kind of a lifetime endeavor,” she said. Time management is just one of many lessons she has learned  from playing lacrosse, which she tries to share with her players. Including, “how to work with other people on both how to lead them and be on a team where you’re not the leader, Conflict resolution, advocating for myself, the excitement of wins, and the disappointment of losses and turning that into something productive.” 

Coach Brooke Kremer: “It’s because of the girls.”

Coach Kremer was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She started to play lacrosse in seventh grade and played all the way through high school and college. After playing for Washington and Lee University, she didn’t play again until she started coaching for St. Pius in 2019 when her daughter, Katherine, was a freshman. 

Th JV team needed a coach, and she said, “One of my friends ratted me out” by telling the coaches she used to play.

She is a Regional Sales Manager for a toxicology lab. “Nobody ever dreams about growing up to be in toxicology, but it was the perfect job when my kids were little, and when they were in school here I could leave and pick up carpool and I could come to games,” Kremer said. The flexibility of it continues to benefit her because she spends an estimated 20 hours a week either at lacrosse practice or handling lacrosse-related issues. 

She said that the biggest struggle of coaching is “probably me getting [to practice] at 3:30 in the afternoon.” However, she makes the effort because “No matter what happens at work and if it’s a crummy day, it really lifts my spirit every time I come over here.”

Kremer loves to share her love of lacrosse with the team. “It is a great honor for me to be out here and work with you girls, and when I walk up and everybody says hi to me and gives me a hug, it just makes me feel so good,” she said. After all, “It’s because of the girls” that she puts in all of the extra time and work. 

Coach Jeff Buckalew: “We’re going to have a great season. There is too much talent to not.”

Despite his lack of experience playing lacrosse, Coach Jeff Buckalew is a vital part of the team. It’s fair to say that the team could not operate without his critical input and participation. He coordinates games, pre-game meals, uniforms, and equipment.

Buckalew is a wrestling coach and substitute teacher at St. Pius. He added lacrosse coaching to his plate four years ago when the program had a hard time finding someone. He said he sticks with it each year  “so that the team does not have to go through the yo-yoing back and forth that they did” with so many coaching changes year after year.

The game is growing on Buckalew. “I’m picking up more of the game,” he said. “I still don’t understand most of the calls.” Buckalew added that he thinks the team will have a great season and a run in the playoffs. “There is too much talent to not.”

Coach Scott Carter: “A bad day of playing lacrosse is better than a good day of doing anything else.”

Growing up in New York, Coach Carter lived and breathed lacrosse from a young age. He played lacrosse at Auburn University and was inducted into the Class of 2017 Southeastern Lacrosse Conference Hall of Fame. He has taught social studies at St. Pius since 1999 and he is the head coach for the swim and dive team. He also coached the boys lacrosse team for 13 years. 

After he finished at Auburn, Carter moved to Atlanta to begin his job search. When Centennial High School offered him a job coaching lacrosse, he accepted and has been coaching the sport ever since.

“When I first started coaching, it was about keeping that competitive edge, but as I’ve gotten older and mellowed out, it’s the relationships,” he said, adding that his favorite part about coaching “has got to be the relationships with the coaches.” The biggest lesson that Carter has learned through coaching is “that you cannot treat every player the same, as much as you want.”

Like the other coaches, Carter sees the sport as more than just a game but also about life. He attributes lacrosse to the way his life panned out. “If it wasn’t for lacrosse, I wouldn’t be where I am. Lacrosse kept me on the right path,” he said. 

Coach Isabel Ward: “Lacrosse is the reason why my life turned out the way that it did.”

Coach Isabel Ward has played lacrosse since the fifth grade. She played in high school at Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton, Florida and as a member of the inaugural women’s lacrosse team at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. Her main profession is a trauma nurse at Grady Hospital.

Handling both 12-hour shifts and lacrosse practice almost every day is not easy. “I just try to work on the weekends and be here on game days,” Ward said.

Ward’s former coaches have been huge role models in her life, and she hopes to share some of the lessons she learned from them. “I think team sports translate into real life in a big way,” said Ward. She added that “in my job, teamwork is a huge thing.”

The girls have taught her lessons of patience and given her new perspectives of the game as well as life. “It’s so rewarding. It takes me back to why I started playing,” Ward said about coaching. Lacrosse has been a staple in Ward’s life, and she is looking forward to continuing her journey with the team. 

You can catch these coaches and their players in action at home on Wednesday, April 19 at 6:30 pm when they take on Harrison before starting the playoffs.