LAX In Support

I received a couple of emails regarding Kelly Amonte Hiller (no hyphen!) recently. It turns out, for the umpteenth time this sports calendar season, yet another entity is having a “contest” to determine a winner.  Candidly, I hate these. They are usually veiled ploys by a brand to try and exploit a fan base (“Vote for your Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year” or “We want you to buy our Nissan feel like you have a vote in the Heisman”).  They seem like shallow attempts at an inauthentic social media strategy. However, this award WAS authentic. The National Association of Collegiate Women Administrators (NACWA) is the inner core of collegiate sports peers and insiders.  In commemoration of the landmark Title IX decision’s 40th anniversary they have logically decided to try and honor the trailblazers of the sport. They selected 25 finalists, one of which is no-brainer selection Kelly Amonte Hiller, the Northwestern women’s lacrosse head coach, whom Northwestern obviously nominated.

Each entrant has a YouTube video describing the candidate. Our very own “KAH” has her video below. The contest essentially is as simple as she who has the most YouTube views gets $9K for the nominating school.  Candidly, this seems pretty smalltime in the way of incentives. However, I was relieved they weren’t giving the entrant with the most votes the win as that would just be downright wrong (Considering $9K pays for about three weeks of a scholarship for a women’s lacrosse player, the incentive lacks quite a bit of teeth).  A couple of things provoked me to use today and this contest to write this post.

First, I’ve been “lax” in supporting women’s lacrosse or as it is often abbreviated “WLAX”.  The primary reason is knowledge of the sport.  I don’t know the rules and intricacies and have made a commitment to not try and be a poser. Sure, I get the very basics, but other than recapping scores and regurgitating box scores on this site to make it convenient one-stop NU shopping, I’m not adding value to the conversation. Recently, PRR, elected Taylor Thornton as the LTP Wildcat Player of the Week. The comments section, which is always enlightening to me, raised some great points. The one that really stuck with me was the need for an LTP contributor who knows the sport of lacrosse and is willing to write about it on LTP. If that last sentence provoked a “hey, that’s me!” then write me a note at and the gig is yours. Terrible pay (zero), but great benefits (you’ll be loved by the LTP readership). Indeed, it is clear this is an underserved element of NU sports content you want, so let’s fix it. Considering Memorial Day Weekend has added the knee-jerk mental image of “women’s lacrosse national championship” to your lexicon in addition to “backyard BBQ” now is the time.

Second, I’m simply fascinated by Kelly Amonte Hiller’s leadership. I want to do an entire business leadership program based on NU women’s lacrosse. The equivalent of getting a boot-strapped start-up with minimal funding and taking it to the top of both the Fortune 500 and Top 100 places to Work is the business analogy of what she’s done. And most intriguing to me maintains it year after year. I want to dig below the surface questions and easy we-know-that-answer of getting top talent equates to success. But how do you create drive and ambition to be number one year after year when it has been scientifically proven that mountain climbers die way more on the way down the peak than on the ascent.  How has she been able to withstand the loss of her assistant coaching staffs which take the Book of Kelly and then implement it as head coaches at programs around the country and she STILL beats them.   She fascinates me. If and when she gives me the time to ask these questions, she’s going to be sorry, because I have about 11,000 follow-up questions for her in what will be the most exhaustive interview she’s ever had! Several of you mentioned that fellow coaches like Fitz and Coach Carmody would be wise to really peel back the onion of her leadership to see if they can improve by learning from Kelly. I agree. However, I think I could learn a ton and so could you. That is what fascinates me about her.

Third, is timing. Legendary Tennessee head women’s basketball coach, Pat Summitt, formally stepped yesterday after 38 seasons and nearly 1100 wins to take on a new fight – Alzheimer’s. There are trailblazers and then there is Pat Summitt, who, I would argue is the single most impactful person since the adoption of Title IX. She helped turn women’s college basketball in to a revenue sport in certain college towns and was a major factor in the rise of television exposure for the sport. She is now hopefully going to take on a more important fight – Alzheimer’s -which I’m certain many of our readers have experienced in the connection to parents or grandparents. I’m fascinated to see what she can do for one of the more soul crushing diseases out there. I’m a huge advocate of the power of sports to impact societal change and my money is on Pat to make a big dent in this area. 

Kelly Amonte Hiller’s “trailblazer” quotient is going to go down in the same team photo as Pat Summitt. It is one thing to build an unprecedented dynasty for your school like she has by owning thte lion’s share of Northwestern’s national championships, but it is a whole different stratosphere when you can point to a single program being a major part of the expansion of the sport. Kelly has helped lacrosse continue to keep its stranglehold as the nation’s fastest growing sport and the popping up of high school girls’ lacrosse programs is as common a sight as political signs on front lawns in the Chicagoland area. Six national championships in seven years will help you become that beacon of inspiration that Northwestern and Kelly have become. So, be sure to take three minutes and pay tribute to her accomplishments and show your support for women’s lacrosse. The undefeated and #1 Wildcats host #5 Florida tomorrow at 1pm at Lakeside Field. For more info simply go to and check out the sweet home page dedicated to WLAX and this weekend’s important tilt.


Man, hardly a day goes by without some stoking of the seemingly resuscitated rivalry between Illinois and Northwestern. Now that the Illini have beaten NU in back-to-back seasons in football AND a new AD and new head football coach are clearly realizing that we’ve won the Chicago media over, the arrows continue to fly. There was an extremely pathetic post on this that I won’t even give credence to by naming or linking to, but I will direct you to Off Tackle Empire’s piece written by LTP reader “Chadnudj” who had an irreverant take on “Why Illini Can’t Have Nice Things that conjured up elements of NU blogging legend BYCTOM. Take a look here and enjoy. At the end of the day in order for the rivalry to really get to the next level, both teams need to be either “good” at the same time, or one of them has to be really good – as in top 15 level. Relevance is key.

In Other News..

LTP Purple Ticket Challenge

We are stuck at 23 NEW season tickets on our march to get 200 by the home opener. I’m really looking to blow through that goal and am confident that you’ll continue to lobby friends to get tickets. When you do, share your story with me at and we’ll give you a shout out. Who’s got next?

Programming Alert…

I spoke with Under Armour yesterday and you’ll see a post on that on Monday. Also, Matt Alviti’s father, Jim, will be connecting with us shortly to provide a unique look at the four star QBs selection process. Fire away questions if you want me to ask.


  • LookGoodInPurple

    I’m actually heading to the game Saturday with my two daughters. Will bring my camera and send you a game summary, if you’d like LTP. Can’t commit to regularly contributing. 4 kids, a job, and my own WLAX coaching gig means that I would be sporadic at best.

    I do follow Inside Lacrosse and LaxPower forums. I can’t tell you how funny/ironic it is to be referred to as a Super Power or that school in \Evilston\. As a big NU sports fan, it simply warms my heart to see the school referred to like this!

    You have my email, LTP, if you’d like me to do it.

  • Icehockeycat

    Can Taylor play defensive back on the football team? I don’t mean this as a joke – she is an incredible athlete, good size (5-9) and her dad played QB in college and brother played ball at Penn. Maybe I watch too much ice hockey where women can compete with men up to the very highest levels (and some argue could play in the NHL if the NHL “cleaned up” a bit more with the outright dirty hits and head hunting), but I’d be very interested to see how she matches up…

    • LookGoodInPurple

      Definitely. She has the speed, size, and footwork to be good in any athletic pursuit.

    • AdamDG


    • wcgrad

      I bet she’d match up well. Because it is a position that relies on quickness and skill as opposed to brute strength, I don’t think that male players have as much of an inherent advantage other than maybe sheer size. (But then aren’t CBs usually among the smallest guys on the field anyway?)

      But for her own safety and general well-being, I wouldn’t want her on the field. I don’t doubt that every B1G coach would want to “ring her bell” at every opportunity. Given the amount of institutional sexism in football, I would expect that dirty hits on a female player would be dismissed as “well I guess women just aren’t as tough as men” instead of seen for what they are: outright dirty play directed at a player because of her gender. Any sanctions would be written off as “the officials are just protecting her because she’s a girl.”

      It would be an interesting coaching challenge to work with a mixed gender team – especially in football which is perceived as the epitome of “macho”. From a pure theater perspective, this would be great to watch. I’m less sure that it would be good for NU football, in total anyway.

  • cece

    great post on lax, LTP! and to think that this is the first year that the team has their own permanent locker room, it’s amazing what KAH has accomplished!

  • Philip Rossman-Reich

    On LTP’s point about the business applicability. I know Kate Drohan, the softball coach, has spoken to SESP classes in the past and students were blown away by her presentation and the philosophy she used to rebuild that program. I don’t remember if KAH does this type of presentation too, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    • Coach Roy

      You can probably go back further, but a lot of the success of Softball and even the other Women’s sports, has to be put on the Old Field Hockey teams, and the Drohan’s predecessor, Sharon Drysdale.

      Those teams stood out at NU during a time when only Fencing was the championship program – sad to say, back then only the Women were competitive.

  • Chasmo

    Supporters of UConn are trotting out the old complaint that all corrupt college programs do when punished for rules violations — “You’re punishing the kids on this team when the violations were committed by people who are no longer here.”
    What baloney.
    “We can’t send the murderer to jail because it will mean punishing his innocent kids by depriving them of a father and breadwinner.”
    “We can’t punish this corporation for its crimes because all the executives from that time have moved on to other jobs.”
    Few would accept those rationales but many fans do seem to buy into the fact that it would be wrong to punish college sports programs for offenses that happened in the past.

  • ncrmd

    How many other Division 1 head coaches have won 6 National Championships in any sport? I know John Wooden won more, and I am sure that there must be some others in the non-revenue sports.

  • Coach Roy

    Amonte Hiller’s leadership secret is pretty simple:
    1. Stay connected with your roots in New England and pick players that fit your system.
    2. Reach out to West of the Mississippi, where Women’s Lacrosse is a growing high school sport.
    3. Use some of the Boston Area hockey knowledge to create a different look for your attack.

    Then you have to inspire the team, she’s been there (at Maryland and now NU) and done that (a whole bunch of National Championships), and is developing new Lacrosse Coaches from the ranks of the Wildcats the way we’ve seldom seen in sports.

  • Icehockeycat

    Well, I think you hit the nail on the head on why more truly elite women athletes do not play on mens teams, or in mens sports. At the youth level, you do see some girls play football but stop right around high school. For ice hockey, they play on mens teams through high school (and even on some elite teams if the area does not have a womens hockey program) and do quite well. Even there, you do get the occasional clown wanting to ake her out, but my observations are that the truly skilled fit in and earn the respect of their team. It prepares them well when they go into the world – any women trying to achieve success at a high level in a mens profession will face the same attitude.
    Still, for Taylor, she would be on the small side as a DB, but would be able to handle her own I think. Now, would she really want to do it and is it good for her is a totally different topic; I’m just curious on how well she would match up. I think a lot better than many would suspect.

  • cece

    can’t we all just enjoy women’s sports? or to put it another way, why don’t we start thinking of a guy at NU who would be good on lax. sounds silly, right? because it is….we should just enjoy the sports as they are without thinking of, for example, how Taylor Thornton or any other woman playing for NU could be used on a team mostly made up of men. as if men are the gold standard.

    just watch women playing a sport and get into it.