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hris Sailer will bring her Princeton women’s lacrosse team to US Lacrosse headquarters to play a four-team tournament to end the fall ball season Saturday, but that’s not the sole purpose of this visit. US Lacrosse will dedicate the Chris Sailer Trail, a walking path paved in honor of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame coach who is preparing for her 32nd season with the Tigers.

"> Chris Sailer Says She's Not Done Blazing Her Trail | USA Lacrosse Magazine

PHOTO BY KEVIN P. TUCKER

Princeton's Chris Sailer, the second-winningest coach in NCAA Division I women's lacrosse history, will be honored alongside 11 other trailblazers in the sport Saturday at US Lacrosse.

Chris Sailer Says She's Not Done Blazing Her Trail


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hris Sailer will bring her Princeton women’s lacrosse team to US Lacrosse headquarters to play a four-team tournament to end the fall ball season Saturday, but that’s not the sole purpose of this visit. US Lacrosse will dedicate the Chris Sailer Trail, a walking path paved in honor of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame coach who is preparing for her 32nd season with the Tigers.

“It’s an amazing honor,” Sailer said. “It’s incredibly humbling when you think about having a landmark that’s enduring.”

The naming honor comes from the generous support of Sailer’s former Princeton players and their families, but it is Sailer who says that she’s been the fortunate one.

“I consider myself so lucky to have been able to coach at Princeton all these years,” Sailer said. “It really is the perfect place for me, a place that’s been my home with the student-athletes I’ve been able to work with here and the families I’ve been able to get to know through my years coaching here.

“It’s just been a joy in my life. The assistant coaches I’ve worked with, the administrators, it’s just been the perfect place for me to be. We’ve been able to be successful and do things the right way. I’ve gotten a lot of honors, but that’s due to what my kids have done on the field of play and all the help I’ve gotten from my assistant coaches and support of administrators I’ve had over the years.”

Sailer is just as excited to share the moment with 11 former collegiate coaches who will be celebrated as trailblazers for the sport in expanding playing and coaching opportunities during the Title IX era. Pat Genovese, Tina Sloan Green, Caroline Haussermann, Kathy Heinze, Carole Kleinfelder, Gillian Rattray, Sue Stahl, Sue Tyler, Lanetta Ware, Marge Watson and Judy Wolstenholme will be recognized with plaques along the Chris Sailer Trail on Saturday.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled that that is happening,” said Sailer, who played for Kleinfelder at Harvard and believed in Princeton’s potential because of the Crimson’s success. “When I found out about the trail honor, I was a little reticent at first. But that piece of it, to honor those women who really led the way in developing the sport in the U.S., that was incredibly meaningful and impactful to me. I was so excited that their dedication would be held in conjunction with the trail dedication. It’s going to be such a great day for women’s lacrosse and the history of the game. I’m really excited for my team and my alums to learn about so many of the women who impacted me in my younger days and contributed so much to the game.”


“It’s why I’ve gravitated toward hiring Princeton graduates. You know how they were raised with the game.” — Fairfield coach Laura Field, a former All-American goalie at Princeton


There will be plenty of former Princeton players on hand Saturday to recognize Sailer’s contributions. The other three teams competing in the tournament are Fairfield and Villanova, which both have Princeton alumnae as head coaches, and the New York Athletic Club, which features several former Princeton players.

Laura Field is entering her 10th year as head coach at Fairfield. She was an All-American goalie who graduated from Princeton in 2000. The Stags are participating in the event instead of hosting their annual alumni weekend.

“Chris is an all-around legend,” Field said. “She represents all the good about this profession. Not just the way she coaches and as a tactical coach, but she has the ability to adjust to the times and certainly stay current. She has stayed relevant. It’s not easy to sustain that level for decades. The fact that she’s able to do that at an Ivy school is remarkable.”

One of Field’s former teammates, Julie (Shaner) Young, is a 2001 Princeton graduate and now headed into her seventh season as head coach at Villanova.

“I wanted to stay in coaching because of my experience [at Princeton] and how much I like competing at that level,” Young said. “I learned so much in college about the game. That was the highest level of coaching I had gotten.”

Young starred in two sports at Princeton. She was a three-time team MVP and regional All-American in soccer as well as a three-time All-American in lacrosse. Young went on to play for the U.S. women’s lacrosse team before launching her own coaching career.

“My experience at Princeton was a family feeling,” Young said. “It was great to be around a group of girls working for a common goal. I learned a lot from my coaches and looked up to them. I’m trying to do what Chris did at Princeton.”

Coming out of Princeton, Field and Young originally coached against Sailer for Ivy League rivals Yale and Penn, respectively. Still, they remained connected to their former coach and mentor.

“No matter if you’re an opponent in or out of league, she’s always had an ear for us,” Field said. “If you don’t know how to do something, she has always been willing to share her knowledge base. … I’ve worked her camp for 20 years straight. She doesn’t forget about us. It’s why I’ve gravitated toward hiring Princeton graduates. You know how they were raised with the game.”








Sailer took over a downtrodden Princeton program before the 1987 season and quickly turned it into a winner. In her third season, the Tigers reached the final four.

“Things really changed when Chris was hired,” said Kristen (Mautner) Garlinghouse, who played on Sailer’s first three Princeton teams. “The team hadn’t had much success before her arrival, but that began to turn around relatively quickly. In my opinion, she’s not just a great game tactician, but she’s also a great motivator and a great mentor. She gets the best out of her players.”

Sailer’s three NCAA championships spanned two different decades. She has led Princeton teams to 24 NCAA tournament appearances and 13 Ivy League titles. She ranks second all-time among Division I coaches with 386 wins.

“Chris is the epitome of a good leader,” said Rachael (Becker) DeCecco, who won the Tewaaraton Award in 2003, the only defender in history to earn the honor. “It sounds cliché, but she understood each of us as individuals and understood what we each brought to a team and how to turn that into a successful group. … I’ve been on a lot of teams in my life. The teams that I was on when I played for Chris were really the true definition of team. It was a group that to this day still love each other and would drop everything for one another.”

DeCecco is the chief operations officer of the new Women’s Professional Lacrosse League. She stays in touch with Sailer and has sought her advice in this new endeavor.

“She serves as a role model for all of us even way after lacrosse has ended,” DeCecco said. “She’s still there for all of her players, which when you think about 30 years at Princeton is pretty amazing.”

Sailer is proud to see her former players stay in the sport. Since early in her coaching career, Sailer has been actively involved in championing the sport. She has served on numerous committees within the IWLCA, NCAA, US Lacrosse and the Tewaaraton Foundation.

“I really enjoyed being involved in those type of leadership positions…being able to really know what’s going on and trying to impact change in a positive way,” Sailer said. “I’ve served on a ton of committees. I really enjoy that piece and learning about the game from a different aspect. I’ve always thought giving back in that way and serving in that way is really important for a coach.”

Sailer Trail is one way that her former players and their families have given back in their appreciation of Sailer’s efforts. Garlinghouse will introduce Sailer on Saturday.

“She set an example by dedicating herself to more than just the Princeton program,” Garlinghouse said. “She worked to advance the game for girls at all levels. Many of her former players internalized that passion for the game. You can see the impact in the number of women who have stayed involved in the sport — former players who are coaching in college, coaching at the youth level, starting girls’ lacrosse programs, supporting Princeton women’s lacrosse and getting involved in the sport’s administration. There is an army of former players that have continued her example of dedication to the sport of lacrosse.”

Many from that army intend to be on hand to celebrate the dedication of Sailer Trail and recognize the contributions of a Hall of Fame coach who has laid a pathway to success and shows no signs of slowing down.

“I enjoy coaching,” Sailer said. “I love coming to work every day. I love being out on the field with my kids. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead and the recruits we have coming in. I see a lot more coaching days in my future.”




PHOTO BY MATT DASILVA

The first plaque on Chris Sailer Trail surrounding the field at US Lacrosse commemorates her "stunning record" and "lasting influence."


IWLCA TRAILBLAZERS

In addition to the dedication of Chris Sailer Trail, the IWLCA will recognize 11 trailblazers Saturday in dedication ceremony held at US Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md. Here’s a sneak peek at the plaques installed around the perimeter of the field.