Head Coach Carolyn Sumcizk Morales thinks that 2021 will be a success for her Locust Valley team. She has been involved with the sport all her life with a playing career for Long Island Yellow Jackets and coaching record spanning since her high school days. She puts emphasis on the fundamentals and “controlling the controllables”, which has seemingly paid off in recent years. The team went an impressive 11-5 in 2019 and only looks to improve next season. The coach made a hug milestone when her varsity team made the Conference C Championship for the first time in Locust Valley’s history. Now coaching alongside her sister in 2021, she expects much of the team’s talent to step up to the plate. In her recent interview with the LILJ, Coach Sumcizk Morales reflected on her playing and coaching career and what’s to come for Locust Valley.
Q: How did you get started coaching?
A: I first started coaching lacrosse when I was in high school. I would help out with our town’s PAL program and then once I finished my playing career with the Long Island Yellow Jackets I started coaching on the club scene. Ever since then, I have been involved in the game of lacrosse on multiple levels. Through my coaching experiences, I have realized that I have a love for developing the skills of the game and have found a home coaching youth and high school lacrosse.
Q: What are some of your main coaching philosophies?
A: Coaching a team of young ladies is so much more than just teaching them the skills and concepts needed to be successful on the field. It’s much more than the wins and loses. Yes, I want to be competitive, but I also want to make sure I am growing the game correctly. I put an emphasis on the fundamentals and conditioning during the off season so that the girls are ready for team concepts come the start of the spring season. While we are on the lacrosse field, I also pride myself on teaching these young ladies lifelong lessons. Through the game of lacrosse I am able to teach them how to persevere through tough situations, how hard work is important even when no one is looking, what it really means to be a team player, and how to hold each other accountable. One of my biggest motto’s in coaching is “We all make mistakes, but how do you respond to those mistakes? Do you hang your head and feel sorry for yourself or do you pick your head up and fight for what you lost? It’s all about controlling the controllables on and off of the field!” This is the biggest lesson that I try to teach everyone on the team.
Q: Do you have a favorite coaching moment?
A: It’s so hard to pick just one moment in my coaching career as my favorite. My favorite coaching moment was taking my team to Florida and creating memories that the girls will have for their rest of their lives.
Q: The team went 11-5 last season. How is the team preparing to have similar or even greater success in 2021?
A: The Falcons had a great season last year. This year in order to prepare the team, we put a greater emphasis on our off season training. The girls would come to open gym sessions twice a week so we could focus on fundamentals and conditioning in the early winter. As we started to approach the spring season, we started to break down program wide concepts in order to prepare the girls for the different systems we play. This made our transition into the spring season almost seamless. As we look to the 2021 season, I foresee us following the same procedures to help prepare the girls for a successful season. The more they can play together, the better they get to learn each other’s tendencies, the better they will play as one unit on the field.
Q: What does the cancellation of 2020 mean for the team and who do you expect to step up next season?
A: The cancellation of the 2020 season hit hard. We were off to a great start with our team and the girls put in so much work during the offseason. We had started to put in a new offense and had been fine tuning our team defense when all of a sudden the season was taken away. My heart breaks for our seniors, but I know they will continue to do great things as they start the next chapter of their lives.
When we do return to the lacrosse field next season we will rewind a little. The girls are continuing to keep their sticks in their hands and running while we are on this pause, but we will have to revamp our team concepts to meet the personalities of our new team next year. There will be a greater emphasis on team building activities so that the girls can get the mojo back. With being away from the field for so long, the girls will have to get used to how each other moves and what each other’s tendencies are again.
Q: What are you most excited for in 2021?
A: I am excited to complete a full season with my sister. We have dreamt of coaching together since we were in high school and this year the opportunity finally presented itself. I am excited to watch the girls take the field and play as one cohesive unit. Most importantly, I cannot wait to see the joy in the girls faces everyday while we are at practices and games.