Caitlin Moore stood on the sidelines of University of Mary Washington’s Battleground Complex at a recent Friday afternoon lacrosse practice. She confidently surveyed the 27 athletes in front of her.
Preparing for game day with her whistle poised, the UMW women’s lacrosse coach studied her team, encouraging them as they ran plays until they looked seamless, breaking only for instructions and pep talks where all eyes were glued to their energized mentor.
The next day, the team would go on to beat their opponent 22 to six.
Moore’s accomplishments as an undergraduate student at UMW combined with her new “all in” motto as a coach, give motivation to the women’s lacrosse team, evident in the team’s success on the field and their focus in practice.
A two-time alumna who received All-America status her senior year, Moore was UMW’s career points leader and record-holder for points and assists both in a single season and in a single game.
Her two degrees from UMW –a bachelor’s in business administration in 2008 and an MBA in 2012 – equip Moore with the tools to help her team flourish.
“Sports teams, like all businesses, are organizations that have a need to accomplish a set of clearly stated goals,” Moore said. “There are well-understood performance measurements that are applied to the people involved with achieving those goals, in our case, coaches and players.”
The success of her team, like in the business world, will depend on how the dynamics of the team are managed.
At her first practice with Moore, senior midfielder Maggie Nunn remembers leaving practice thinking that “everything was on pace.” The tempo that Moore keeps in practice, said Nunn, is similar to the reality of a game.
Moore also places extra responsibility on the players by asking them to arrive early to warm up before she arrives.
“She has made us more accountable,” said Nunn.
Moore strives to promote the team motto, “all in,” both in practice and in game play.
“It’s our expectation that each player always brings her ‘A game.’ The team really takes this to heart. I have seen it not only on game day, but in every aspect of our preparation for the season,” said Moore.
The team is well on their way to the Capital Athletic Conference tournaments, with their wins doubling their losses.
Facing a difficult back-and-forth game against Roanoke College this semester, UMW finished with a win that they worked hard for.
“Roanoke is the type of team that can easily take advantage of lapses in play,” Moore explained. “After a halftime review of our performance, our team really rallied, eventually caught up, took the lead and hung on for a one goal win.”
This win showed how much Moore’s leadership strategies impacted the team’s play, said Nunn.
In another game against Southern Virginia University, after scoring twice in the first minute, Moore utilized all of her team, including defenders who rarely get the chance to score, and ended the game with an 18-2 victory.
Nunn called the game a “team win,” which involved everyone in the game and set a good example for the players.
As a freshman, Nunn first met Moore as an assistant to then-Coach Dana Hall, Moore’s predecessor.
Then just “Caitlin” to Nunn, Moore asked a lot of the players, but also gained their respect.
“She is passionate about lacrosse, life and Mary Washington,” Hall said. “She is a great role model and leader for young women of today and the future.”
As an assistant, Moore studied the game and brought insight to the lacrosse program, paving the way for her to take the helm four years later.
“We talked a lot about strategies and new ideas and also what worked for each person to be successful. She always was ready to talk lacrosse,” said Hall.
As a successful individual player, Moore was all about the team as a UMW undergrad, Hall said.
“She was unselfish and made her teammates look good and play to their highest potential,” Hall said.
For Moore, Hall is one of her mentors who always pushed her to become a leader.
“Dana Hall was a constant source of support and knowledgeable advice,” said Moore. “Dana helped me to grow as a person and player on and off the field.”
In her new role as head coach, with her experiences as a student guiding her, Moore focuses on making sure her players excel in class, on the field and with each other.
“I am dedicated to making sure that the educational experience as well as the development and mentorship of players receive paramount attention,” said Moore. “Ultimately, we want our student-athletes to be academically successful, great teammates for each other and ambassadors for our program, the school and the sport of women’s lacrosse.”