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   March 27, 2008 Issue                                       

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New stick skippers for Mount, Springside

As the world around them comes into bloom this spring, the lacrosse teams at Mount St. Joseph Academy and Springside School are each looking for fresh growth under the care of a new head coach. Wyndmoor’s Lori Ehret has taken over the helm for the Mount Magic, while Mount Airy resident B.J. Zellers is now leading the Lions of Springside.

Originally from Delaware, Ehret played lacrosse and field hockey in high school, then went on to play hockey at the College of William and Mary. She has coached lacrosse on the middle school level at Penn Charter and at Episcopal Academy. She also works as a personal trainer, so you can expect to see a well-conditioned Magic squad.

Ehret’s two oldest daughters were multi-sport athletes at Penn Charter, where both played lacrosse. Whitney will graduate from Villanova in June, and Margaretha is a junior at Penn, where she is a mainstay on the field hockey team. It was Margaretha, in fact, who spotted the Mount’s ad for a lacrosse coach, and quickly told her mother.

A younger sibling, Emily, is in the seventh grade at Springfield Township Middle School, and plays lacrosse with both school and club teams.

So far, the Mounties’ new coach has found them, “very conscientious and very smart. There are some girls who are extremely experienced as it is, who play for good club teams like Ultimate and Fantastix. There’s a lot of talent there, there’s no doubt.”

Ehret said that a primary asset of the team is speed. “We’ve got a lot of speed, both on offense and defense. What we’re working on now is getting everything in sync, so that their skills catch up with their footspeed.”

A total of 55 girls originally tried out for the team, and that number has been trimmed to 35 members of the combined varsity and JV squad. Right now, Ehret is pretty much a one-man-band as the Mount’s coaching staff, since assistant coach Ruth Fricker, a holdover from the previous regime, is due to have a baby quite soon.

Zellers, Springside’s new mentor, grew up in Cherry Hill and was a standout in lacrosse and field hockey at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. While attending graduate school, she was an assistant coach for the hockey and lacrosse teams at Drexel University for two years.

After that Zellers entered the business world, and she recently retired from her post as vice president of a consumer products firm. She’s enjoying the opportunity to spend more time with her daughter, a third grader at Springside, as well as taking the helm of the school’s lacrosse squad.

Assessing her new team, she said, “There are a lot of seniors, and there’s a lot of skill there. I’ve gathered from a number of sources that confidence has been something of a problem in the past. One of the goals is to change the culture of the program, make them more intense and competitive, and work on mental preparedness.”

In this regard, she’s right in line with the overall approach being taken by first-year athletic director Sheila Pauley. Back in 2006, Zellers served on the Springside search committee which recommended Pauley as a candidate for the AD’s job.

Out of the 39 girls on the varsity and JV squads, there are nine seniors, seven of whom have been starting in the early scrimmages.

All of them, Zellers said, “have been good leaders and hard workers, and good role models for the younger girls.

“I think we’ve got pretty good balance up and down the field,” she went on. “We’ve got everybody contributing, instead of having just two or three players trying to carry the load.”

Lindsay Roth, a 2007 graduate of Swarthmore College, has joined the Lions as an assistant coach, and Zellers will also be getting part-time help from Kristin Gavin, a former University of Richmond player who is now in grad school at Temple.

It appears that Zellers’ Lions will not be testing their mettle against Ehret’s Mount Magic this spring. For the first time in many years, the near neighbors are not scheduled to play one another.