After falling to Bethlehem in the Section II Final last spring, the team was hungry to get back, work hard, and fight to finally earn a Section II Championship.
"Losing in that Sectional final game, that's something you don't forget," said Shen Head Coach Heidi Ackerley. "Those feelings are still with them, and they are still with us as coaches. We are always looking to that next step. What can we change? What can we do better? How can we be better prepared? What do we need to do? It's constantly that mentality of thinking two, or three steps ahead."
Ackerley tried to pre...are her team early on for what could possibly transpire in the next few weeks in hopes of getting ahead of the planning and preparation part of the new season.
"You can't predict something like this, the time frame, or anything like that," said Ackerley. "I think they are in shock. Right there in the first week listening to the news and all the reports, it was really hard for them to comprehend what was really happening to them. Were they going to have a season? Is there going to be a modified type of a season? What does that look like?"
Ackerley and her team are in uncharted water as players, coaches, a program, as well as the section, state, and country. Through it all, Ackerley and her senior group are working towards the eventual start of the season, whenever that may be.
"We are in contact with them every single day," said Ackerly. "We send them workouts, individual plans based on positions to help with player development, keeping them in shape with a stick in their hand, and we have had four team facetime calls, where we get together on the phone and talk about lacrosse, talk about how things are going, and that has been the high light for them. Just to be able to connect and see us and have those conversations, it brightens up their day."
Ackerley admitted that the group messages and facetime calls with her team brighten up her day.
"It's different, right? It's a challenge," said Ackerley. "I miss the sports. I miss the kids. I miss the physical interaction and then coming into my office everyday and checking in. I'm doing okay, but I miss every aspect of it."
Shen graduated eight seniors from last years roster and return six juniors, now seniors, to the roster. The leadership crew consists of some seniors, but Ackerley and the coaching staff decide to go down a different road this year when determining the leaders of this years team.
"Our seniors are veterans. In these uncharted waters, it's hard to talk about who is actually going to lead this team," said Ackerley. "A change this year is that we decided to not go with captains. We are going to facilitate a leadership team, which didn't necessarily mean it was structured with seniors."
Some notable leaders have been returners have been Abby Danson, Grace Dechiro, Sarah Monroe, Lauren Pendergast, and Lauren Spiegel.
"For sure those kids have been stepping up and playing along with that senior role," said Ackerley. "Some standouts have been the underclassmen just being supportive and keeping the seniors heads up."
Ackerley and her coaching staff are keeping their team focused with workout packages and drills while the season is on hold. More importantly, the drills are focused on the girl's being separate and socially distanced.
"We send them YouTube videos so they see the physical workout and have the audio so there is no misinterpretation of what we expect and what they are supposed to achieve," said Ackerley. "I stress to them that they don't fall of the radar at this time of quarantine. They need to stay connected with each other, with their skills, and to stay healthy and stay fit, for when, and if, we do return back to school, day one starts that day. When school starts on whatever day, practice will resume and we pick right back up where we left off."
At the end of the day, Shen is going to Shen. Despite not being totally sure on the status of the season or when it will officially commence, Coach Ackerley can sleep comfortable at night knowing she has a talented group of girls ready to hit the field at any moment.
"We have a lot of great athletes and dual sport athletes," said Ackerley. "I have a lot of talent coming back. We have kids who are committed Division One players and a lot that are Division Two. Within this group, we have a lot of unfinished that we haven't forgotten about from last year."
Despite Shen's urge to come back and compete for a section title, Ackerley also feels more connected with Section II teams right now thanks to social media and the positivity on it. Instead of competing with one another at the moment, teams are being positive and helping one another at this hard time.
"You see the twitter posts out there and I think it is a matter of, we are all in the same boat right now," said Ackerley. "We are all facing the same challenges and I think as coaches in Section II, it's just a matter of us being there for one another and supporting each other. Whether it be posting pictures of our teams in the past or pumping each other up saying, 'Great Job, keep sharing skills' and things like that."
Shen is keeping a positive mindset. Whenever the season starts back up, whether it be April 19 or April 30, they will be ready to go as soon as the call is made. Shen wants to get back to that sectional final and will do anything in their power to get there.
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