“Lacrosse is my happy place,” said Oyster River High School’s (ORHS) new girls lacrosse coach Kirstin Lang. This year Lang was hired by ORHS to replace the old girls lacrosse coach, Erin Murphy, who recently had a baby and could no longer commit to coaching. Lang comes from an extensive background of playing and coaching lacrosse, which she and many others feel will benefit the team. After playing Division I lacrosse at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), she picked up coaching for club and high school teams in the area and has spent the last four years coaching the UNH club lacrosse team. This year, the ORHS girls lacrosse roster is filled with many talented players and, with the new addition of Lang, they hope to have a competitive season.
Lang described her coaching philosophy as being “all about consistency, being a team, and working together.” However, with any new situation, there will need to be time for adjustment. She continued and said, “it doesn’t always happen overnight so I will say this: this group of girls is a very strong, talented group. My goal is to bring everyone together and to put them in a place where we’re going to work best on the field as a unit.”
Athletic director Andy Lathrop appreciates her philosophy and shared what stood out to him during the hiring process. “She brings a good background to the team and I like her because she’s firm, but she’s fair. I think that she will be someone that can really develop a good culture in the program,” he said.
The players noted Lang’s coaching to be slightly different from what they’ve been used to in the past. Player Waverly Oake-Libow (‘23) said, “there’s definitely a difference in personality with our new coach and our old coach. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but there’s a different attitude with the team atmosphere.” She elaborated on the attitude change and said, “this year is very focused and a lot more competitive. We’re here to play lacrosse and we’re here to get better.” Oake-Libow thinks this switch will be beneficial for the team, especially after losing a year to COVID-19 and then prioritizing connecting as a team and improving during last year’s season.
Co-Captain Tess Pueschel (‘22) agreed that the team will have to make some adjustments, especially with Lang coming from the UNH club team. Pueschel said, “I think that coming from the UNH club team is a big adjustment for us and for her. I think she does a really good job with keeping everybody under control [and] keeping people focused, but she also has a lot of new drills and plays that we haven’t necessarily [seen] before.” She also reflected on how having a new coach can make the adjustment for freshmen feel more comfortable. “When I was a freshman we had a brand new coach and I know that helped me a lot because I felt like we all went into it together. With the huge amount of freshmen we have, it’s probably really helpful [that] there’s new things for everybody,” she said.
In addition to coaching at UNH, Lang has also coached the junior varsity teams at both Portsmouth High School and Dover High School, as well as coaching at clubs like Houlagans, Lighthouse Lacrosse, and Cocheco Youth Lacrosse. She said, “I’ve done it all… but there’s something about high school. I think I was ready to return back to that.” Her coaching philosophy is also very influenced by her experiences. She said, “wherever [I’ve played] and wherever I’ve coached, I take a little piece of that and I bring it with me to the next team.”
Player Emy Przybylski (‘24) said, “it helps to have someone who really knows what they’re doing. Her skills and her knowledge about lacrosse [are] all going towards us which is making us better players.”
Having lived in the Durham area since college, Lang has ties within the Oyster River community. She’s known many of the girls since they were in middle school. She said, “I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to go back and start again at Oyster River. [It’s great] knowing so many of the girls in the community and seeing how far they’ve come.” She continued about how coaching them will be special to her and said, “I look at the girls and I think of myself when I was playing and when I was in their shoes. Ultimately it’s about having fun and loving the game.”
The season has only just begun, but Lang and the players seem optimistic about their success. Lathrop is pleased with the decision to hire her and said, “I think she’s in it for the long haul. She’s really bought into taking this program and running with it. I think she’ll do a great job.”
Make sure to go support the girls and their new coach at their first home game on April 11th vs. Merrimack Valley!