The Heller sisters and Kayla Downey have shipped off to college. Those three studletes pushed West Babylon to a near upset win in the 2019 Suffolk County Finals. Almost tying the game with seconds remaining, the Eagles fell short to eventual State Champs ESM by just a goal. With the big three gone, a new crop of young talent will need to step-up if Coach Colleen Kilgus’ West Babylon Eagles plan on seeking revenge in Suffolk Class B. Coach Kilgus is more than just a coach. She’s an important figure in the lives of so many young women in West Babylon. For nearly a decade, Coach K has adopted her father’s all-encompassing coaching style and brought it to West Bab. For her, she wants to leave a lasting impression on the girls she coaches. Teaching them the game of lacrosse is just part of the big picture. The LILJ got a chance to interview Coach Kilgus, and we share some insight from one of Long Island’s top young coaches below.
Q: What is your lacrosse background?
I played at Wantagh for Bobbi Colavita. Then I went onto the George Washington University and played there for four years.
Q; Why did you decide to get into coaching?
I’ve been around the coaching world since I was young. My father was the Nassau Community College wrestling coach and I spent many afternoons down in his wrestling room. My dad inspired me because I loved how all his wrestlers just looked up to him. To this day, wrestlers still tell me how my dad was like a father to them, I learned to share him. He has won countless national championships and changed many young male lives, I want to be just like him!
Q; Who is going to have to step up this year now that the Heller sisters and Kayla Downey graduated?
We definitely have some big shoes to fill. Year after year we have been so lucky to have produced so many super stars. The younger girls have learned that it’s their time to step up. We have still have some more Downeys left! (Lacey Downey Ellie Downey), Olivia Downey, Emma Blloshmi, the Russell’s sisters, Alyssa Apuzzo, Marisa Moran, to just name a few. And of course we are returning our senior goalie Kayla Lanzotti!
Q: Are there any teams you have coached that have stood out more than others?
I am going onto my 11th year coaching at West Babylon. I honestly can’t say that there is one team that stood out because each team was so special to me, and I loved the relationships built each year. Too many great memories from each team!
Q: What has been your favorite memory from coaching?
I have so many! Most of my favorite memories come from getting to really know the girls and spending time with them. They become my family, we are always together! One of our classic moments though, had to be our last game of our 2013 season, we were playing the undefeated Ward Melville Patriots. It was being filmed for News Channel 12, and it one hell of a game. We ended up winning, but it cost Sam Apuzzo her front tooth, the team had to stop the game and search for her lost chipped tooth on the grass. It was quite the memory!
Q: What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?
We have a young team but we are excited to show everyone who we are. We obviously lost a lot but the younger girls are hungry. I think that will really drive our team this year. We’ve learned a lot over the years, and we still have our eyes on winning a championship.
Q: What’s your motto?
We have this saying at West Babylon, we say, BYN.