Becoming a coach improved Temple lacrosse junior’s on-field play

Attacker and midfielder Olivia Thompson uses coaching younger players as a way to reflect on her game.

Junior attacker Olivia Thompson calls for a teammate during the Owls’ 8-15 loss against Florida on Saturday at Howarth Field. | DYLAN LONG / THE TEMPLE NEWS

While growing up, Olivia Thompson looked up to collegiate women’s lacrosse players who coached her during her time with the Check-Hers Elite Lacrosse Club. 

After her freshman season at Temple University, Thompson knew she wanted to coach with her youth club team based in Carroll County, Maryland. 

The junior attacker and midfielder wanted to be a role model to girls playing lacrosse while also honing her skills while away from Temple. 

Being a youth coach helps her view the game differently when she’s playing in college, Thompson said. She can reflect on her own game by correcting the mistakes of younger athletes and better understands the importance of communication with her teammates through her experience coaching.

Since becoming a coach, Thompson has gradually increased her production. Thompson scored 13 goals in 18 games during her first season and followed that with an 18-goal sophomore year. This year, Thompson is second on the team with 16 goals in 11 games.

“[Coaching] makes me think about things,” Thompson said. “So it points things out that I don’t even think about sometimes, just because I’m seeing from the opposite set of eyes.”

Last summer, Thompson was the assistant coach of the Check-Hers Elite 2024 Black Team, which is made up of girls trying to play Division I lacrosse following their 2024 high school graduation. 

Thompson shows great “energy” and brings a calming presence as a coach, said Jess Ohneiser, who coached the 2024 Black Team and is on Check-Hers Elite Board of Directors. 

Those traits were on display with Thompson and Ohneiser coached the team to a tournament win this summer, Ohneiser added.

“That was the first time our little team, and obviously her and I coaching together, have ever won the whole thing,” Ohneiser said. “It was a pretty close, stressful championship game, and she was just great on the sidelines with her energy and also just keeping the girls calm and focused.”

Thompson primarily worked with the attackers and has an ability to encourage the players, Ohneiser said.

“She wears the ‘player hat’ more than the ‘coaching hat’,” she added. “In a way, it’s somewhat helpful because she understands the mentality of the girls on the field, and she knows what it’s like to succeed and fail.”

Thompson plans to return to the 2024 Black Team this summer.

“I definitely have started to develop relationships, especially with the girls and other staff members there,” Thompson said. “Even though it’s just a summer thing, it’s nice being able to actually have a relationship with the girls, and you’re not just their coach.” 

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