Janine Tucker Celebrates 300th Win By Thanking Players, Coaches and Mentors


Even over 48 hours after the final whistle blew in Johns Hopkins’ win over Penn State, Janine Tucker’s cheeks still hurt from how much time she’d spent smiling in the last few days.

The Blue Jays’ 13-11 upset of the then-No. 13 Nittany Lions on April 18 was the 300th win of Tucker’s career, granting her entrance into a club that only eight others in NCAA Division I history have joined.

It was a moment 28 years in the making. Tucker took over as Hopkins’ head coach in 1993, named in charge of both the women’s lacrosse and field hockey programs at a time when the Blue Jays were in Division III and all the varsity women’s teams shared a single locker room.

Since then, she’s become the face of the lacrosse program, helping it make the jump to Division I in 1999 and to the Big Ten in 2017. Tucker has helmed 24 winning seasons and eight NCAA tournament appearances. That this win came with this year’s team specifically made the achievement all the more special.

“In my 28 years, I’ve never asked as much of a group of young women as I’ve asked of this team, and never did it have anything to do with getting 300 wins,” Tucker said. “It was just all of the logistics and demands and sacrifices that these young women have made across the board with the craziness of this season. I’ve really reflected on that.”

Tucker’s two previous milestone wins had come in exciting fashion — No. 100 on March 1, 2001, against a ranked George Mason team and No. 200 with a 12-7 win at UMBC on April 13, 2011 — and No. 300 was no different. Hopkins had a chance at collecting the landmark win against in-state rival Maryland on April 14 but fell just short of an upset when the Terrapins scored the game-winner with less than a minute to play.

So the Blue Jays’ eyes turned to a weekend road trip to Penn State, a team they’d beaten two weeks earlier but always posed a threat, especially late in the regular season. After a back-and-forth first frame, Hopkins rallied in the second, scoring three straight goals to come back from a 9-8 deficit and hold on to a lead to give its coach the long-awaited No. 300 — and a celebratory ice bath.

“We’re watching the clock go down and I’m like, ‘God, I’m so proud of these kids. I’m so incredibly grateful and proud.’ And then boom, I got knocked out of my little blackout moment and all this cold water hit me,” Tucker recalled. “It was just relief and joy.”

Tucker deflected the spotlight of the occasion toward the coaches and players she’s worked with over close to the last three decades. It’s a long list of former and current assistants, other program staffers and the hundreds of players who’ve worn Hopkins’ blue and white under Tucker’s watch.

One of its most notable names is the late Diane Geppi-Aikens, the longtime Loyola coach who gave Tucker her first coaching job in 1990 and encouraged her to accept the head position at Hopkins. It also features the likes of Sue Stahl (Old Dominion), Carole Kleinfelder (Harvard), Jane Miller (Virginia) and Cindy Timchal (Maryland/Navy), legends of the women’s lacrosse sphere who welcomed Tucker into their circles.

“These coaches were just such icons, and I will never forget how they took me in, and they could not have been nicer to a younger coach coming in,” she said. “And then [Geppi-Aikens] really did instill in me that the game is going to evolve, and you can have your fundamental beliefs, but you absolutely have to evolve with it.”

After Sunday’s win, Tucker’s current staff handed her a six-page document — headlined with one of the program’s favorite hashtags, #inCTwetrust — listing all 300 of those wins from her career. It starts with No. 1, a 14-5 win against Salisbury State on March 15, 1994, well before all of her players on this year’s squad were even born.

That packet of pages took Tucker on a journey back through all the growth and evolution she’s witnessed in the game the last 28 years. She still remembers working with Geppi-Aikens to push for the introduction of restraining lines, and she vividly recalls taking Hopkins to Hawaii in 2006 and Houston in 2015 for the first Division I women’s lacrosse games in either of those places.

With two regular season games remaining and the postseason still ahead, the Blue Jays still have time to add to that list this year. The printout stretches all the way to win No. 299 in 2021 — Tucker wrote in the scoreline for No. 300 on her own, but she was quick to acknowledge that she hasn’t made this journey or this accomplishment alone.

“I’m so grateful for the, you know, Janine got her 300th win. But that is so far from the truth,” she said. “It was the hundreds of women’s lacrosse players, and the incredible staff members that truly just over 28 years have made me look really good. They’re just everything.”

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