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Student-coach gets her point across to high school team

Editor’s Note: This story was written when Isabel Lowry was a junior. She is now a senior.

Isabel Lowry paced the sideline while she watched the lacrosse team she coached put their hard work into motion. In practices, Lowry drilled the players on cradling, a way to maintain better control of the ball. Now, during the game, she watched the players moving their sticks back-and-forth, practicing the technique just as she showed them. Lowry could see the team’s improvement and was excited for the future.

Lowry, a junior biochemistry major from Pittsburgh, found her home coaching the lacrosse team at William Henry Harrison High School in West Lafayette, just a few miles from Purdue’s campus.

“I played lacrosse for seven years back home, and when I came to Purdue, I started on the club lacrosse team,” Lowry said.

Isabel Lowry on a lacrosse field Isabel Lowry, a junior biochemistry major from Pittsburgh, found a way to continue her love for lacrosse by coaching a local high school team. Along the way, Lowry also says she connected with the community. Photo by Sami DeLey.

But, after the pandemic hit during her freshman year, the team didn’t play or travel much. Lowry wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue playing, but still had a passion for the game.

“I saw something in our club lacrosse GroupMe for an assistant coaching position, and since I still wanted to be involved in lacrosse, I took the position,” Lowry said.

She started coaching, just thinking it would be something to fill a void and take up some of her time. She soon found out coaching the team would come to mean much more to her.

“At the beginning, it was really difficult, because I was only a year older than some of the girls,” she stated. “As I started getting closer with the girls on the team, I started wanting to help more and watch them succeed.”

As time went on, she found herself attending practices multiple times a week and became very invested in the team.

“My first couple practices, I was a little shy and didn’t want to overstep the head coach at the time,” Lowry said. “Shortly after, the head coach asked me to step up, and I started coming up with drills and eventually, I was running the practices myself.”

When the players realized the value of what she was telling them, like cradling the ball, the team began seeing her more like a coach. Lowry described a time when she really felt like she was making an impact.

It was a close, one-point game and the opposing team was making mean comments. For the first time, the players on her team came to Lowry to talk about their frustrations. In that moment, Lowry said she felt she was making more of an impact on the players than just teaching them practical lacrosse skills.

“During that game, I felt like the girls really trusted me and wanted my advice,” she said. “I felt relatable to the girls, and I think the girls felt like they could talk to me about things I had been through first-hand.”

Lowry’s hard work did not go unnoticed, and school leaders saw her dedication on and off the field.

“They asked me to step up as head coach this year, so I’m now in the head coaching role,” she said.

Lowry said she is excited for the opportunity to influence the lacrosse team at a new level. All the while, Lowry was always busy with her studies at Purdue. With her new head coach role, it’ll be even busier when lacrosse season starts. But Lowry said she is undeterred.

“I like being busy, because it helps me get tasks completed,” she said. “If I know I need to be at practice after school gets out, I’ll make sure I have everything done.”

Lowry’s own love for playing lacrosse has become a passion for teaching others the sport. As a result, she said she has found unexpected and meaningful connections.

“I felt a lot more involved in the community when I started coaching,” she said. “After COVID, it was difficult to find something that wasn’t just Zoom meetings and I’m glad I found a sense of belonging.”

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