University of Florida Lacrosse Coach Amanda O’Leary has had success as both a player and coach. Her drive and focus are apparent as she shouted out orders to her players during a March 2013 matchup against Ohio State University.
“Kitty [Cullen], move up! Who’s on number 24?!” yelled O’Leary.
Her competitive spirit is reflected in her resume as a coach, as well as a player. Before she took the helm of the Gators Lacrosse program that made it to the national semifinal in 2012, in only its third year of existence, the 2012 coach of the year by the women’s lacrosse website womenslax.com, was one of the best women’s lacrosse players of the 1980s. As a midfielder at Temple she was a two-time first team All-American and was the MVP of the 1988 NCAA championships. The Royersford, PA native said her experience as a midfielder helps her coach both offense and defense.
“As a former midfielder I understand what they’re going through and that they [the players] need to be proficient at both ends. We’ve had some great athletes that are able to play both ends and who are able to pull that off. I feel lucky that I’m able to coach people like that,” said O’Leary.
O’Leary, who was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2005 and a part of Lacrosse Magazine’s All-Century Women’s Lacrosse team, coached at Yale for 14 seasons before being hired as the first-ever Florida Lacrosse coach in 2007. UF’s lacrosse program did not officially start competition until 2010, making O’Leary’s class of 2013 the first graduating class in Florida lacrosse history. O’Leary said she could not be more proud to be part of the inaugural class of University of Florida lacrosse. She added the program wouldn’t be where it is right now without her supportive players.
“It’s a dream come true for me, when I first got here, not only just the support of the administration with the resources that were afforded, to be able to coach these players I have to credit a lot to them as well,” said O’Leary.
In addition to being a coach, O’Leary believes it’s important to support her players after their college careers and build a support system for them as they move forward in life.
“I want my legacy to be, regardless of winning championships, that when my players walk across that graduation stage, they can hug me and look and me and say ‘these were the best four years of my life,’ and if they can say that, I think I’ve done my job,” said O’Leary.
O’Leary and Gators fans both hope they can watch the players walk across the stage with national championship rings on their fingers. Until then, it’s hard to argue that O’Leary has been a fantastic fit for Florida Lacrosse.