New women’s lacrosse Coach, Rita Hunt, played lacrosse for three years in high school and has been coaching for 15, beginning coaching right after college graduation.
“I would have loved to play in college, “ Hunt shared, “but mine didn’t have a team. I’ve played in a few women’s leagues throughout the years but it’s not really the same.”
Prior to coming to Webster, Hunt coached at her alma mater, Parkway South. In addition to that position, she additionally coaches youth teams at Lou Fusz. She is a level three certified U.S. Lacrosse Coach and “continues to study all aspects of the game,” Hunt said.
Prior to this position, Hunt did not have a connection to Webster Groves or WGHS. Hunt shared she “didn’t know much about it (WGHS) at all and is still learning.” In fact, WGHS was the first high school coaching position that was suggested to Hunt to apply to.
Before the official cancellation of the MHSAA spring sports season, Hunt was still hopeful about the possibility of coming back, sharing the team’s and her own hopes and goals for the season.
“My hopes for this season were to connect with the team and establish a bond. It’s really hard coming from a school and team I had been involved with for 19 years and knowing the history and having established relationships to starting from scratch. I’m definitely an introvert so it takes me a lot longer to make those connections,” Hunt said.
“My first goal with any team is to like each other. When you care for people and genuinely like them, it’s easy to support one another and work together. Lacrosse is not a sport that you can be selfish at. You will burn yourself out no matter how good you are. It takes a village and I always try to build a strong and happy village,” Hunt said.
Regarding her final goal for the season, Hunt highlighted competition.
“Winning is lovely and always the hope, but I’m in it for the competition. I’ll take a good hard close game that resulted in a loss over a sloppy or boring win; it makes you learn more and try harder and I think that’s the ultimate goal,” said Hunt.
Although the team is not able to “win” right now, Hunt has taken creative measures to maintain team fitness, training and connection.
“I created a 30 Day Workout Challenge… Coach Mundwiller and Coach McDaniel post wall ball routines and stick tricks a couple times a week and we will be adding break down of lacrosse rules. It’s also difficult because I think many of the girls had their sticks in the locker room preparing to come back for spring break practices and we have been locked out. We have a Group Me to stay connected, but again with so much chaos I am not sure how much information is getting to them, but really, as long as they know they can talk to their teammates or coaches anytime it’s really fine; I just want them to be healthy physically and mentally.”
Although the team did not get to begin their season together, Hunt spoke on the initial team connection.
“I think the girls seemed very connected and supportive of one another. We had almost a 50/50 divide of newbies and experienced players and everyone just seemed to get along well; at least, that was my impression. Any drama or concerns seem to get squashed rather quickly, and the focus was more on positivity and how can we all be better,” Hunt said.
Regarding the support of the WGHS community and coaching staff, Hunt said, “Our coaching staff is amazing; the athletic department is amazing; the girls are amazing; their parents are amazing. I feel so much pride and support in such a short time. I am really grateful for such a great team.”
Additionally, this year’s team boasted six senior players who have had to miss out on their last season as a high school athlete including Quin Dolan, Gwen Acar, Maddie Pompey, Emma Allison, Sydney O’Brien and Nakaya Bratcher.
Regarding the senior players Hunt shared, “I think it’s absolutely awful. You work so hard for years and then not to be able to play your senior year. I know in the big scheme it’s just a bummer, but when you are in high school, and that’s all you have really experienced, it’s your whole world, and that’s crushing. None of us will forget it, especially the seniors.”
Finally, Hunt shared some wisdom for all high school athletes during this time.
“I would say try not to dwell in the negative and the ‘poor me’ attitude. Practice being grateful for the time you had and the memories you made. It’s okay to feel sad and bummed, let yourself feel. Process, and move forward. If sports teach us anything, it’s that when we are down we don’t stop, we pick ourselves up and keep going, and my hope is that you find tiny bits of happiness in all the suffering and make those your lasting memories,” Hunt said.
This will be Emily Stisser’s second year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.
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