Behind the Whistle: Three Questions for Kelsey Howard


This story initially appeared on Behind the Whistle, the official blog of the IWLCA, and is being republished with permission from the organization. Kelsey Howard is an assistant coach at Colby College.

[Editor’s Note: From time to time we will feature a short Q&A with an IWLCA member coach. The format will be one question about lacrosse, one question about life and one fun question.]

1. Besides actual lacrosse skills, what are the most important “intangibles” you look for in student-athletes you are recruiting?

When recruiting student-athletes, it is one thing to have good lacrosse players, but lacrosse skills can be easier taught than things like hard work or commitment. So, for me, the intangibles I am looking for, in no particular order, are positive attitude, grit, commitment, team-fiirst attitude and respect.

Positive attitude to me means trying to make the best of every situation. Grit, which is passion and perseverance — do you love the sport, and are you willing to keep pushing through to make yourself a better teammate, a better leader or a better lacrosse player through all the obstacles we will inevitably face? Commitment, meaning you are committed to bettering yourself and the team you play for on and off the field. Team-first attitude is making sure that you put the team’s best interest first, even if that means you need to make a personal decision about your own life to better the team. And respect encompasses respecting your teammates, your coaches, your opponents, the refs and most importantly, yourself.

2. What is the best advice you’ve ever received, and how have you applied it to your own life?

I recently went to Hawaii and heard the tale of Mokoli’i Island. It is said that a goddess passed through the Kualoa area one day when a large lizard chased and fought her. She overcame the lizard despite being smaller and weaker. Mokoli’I Island is said to be the tip of the lizard’s tail that came off in battle. The lesson of this tale, and advice I have received from others in my life, is that we all face obstacles. But we have two choices: (1) to let them overcome us, and (2) fight and prove to ourselves that we are stronger than we think, even if that means we must ask for help to overcome our obstacles.

The last couple of years have proved to have a fair share of challenges, and there have been many days when I have needed to take a step back and assess what the real obstacles are in my life and figure out how I am going to overcome them. This is definitely a work in progress, but I am working to continually find the best in every situation and face the challenges head on. 

3. You have an unlimited budget at the grocery store to purchase enough food for a dinner party with any five guests. What’s on the menu, and who are you inviting?

Oh boy! What I wouldn’t do to have an unlimited budget at the grocery store these days! My meal of choice would definitely be chicken piccata served over angel hair pasta with a side salad with chopped cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, avocado and feta, with a balsamic dressing. And dessert, the best part of the meal, would be chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream.

And the guests that I would love to have at dinner with me are John Madden, because I am a football fan and he seemed to make everyone laugh and smile no matter where he was or what he was talking about. Adele, so we can trade the meal for an in-person performance. Kobe Bryant, for his words of wisdom on what it takes to be the best in whatever you do. Betty White, for her lessons on how to stay young for as long as you can. And Simone Biles, for the Olympian she is, but also for being so young and still influencing so many as she overcomes her own obstacles! I know there are so many others I probably could list to have dinner with, but these are the five I would want right now.

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