Jenny Levy Reflects on Her Lacrosse Beginnings Ahead of Hall of Fame Induction

PHOTO BY NICK IERADI


On Saturday evening at the Grand Lodge in Cockeysville, Md., Jenny Levy will be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame as a truly great coach.

She has recorded a 373-117 record in 26 seasons at the University of North Carolina and has led the Tar Heels to NCAA national championships in 2013, 2016 and 2022.

In addition to her duties at UNC, Levy was the head coach of the 2022 U.S. women’s national team that became the first women’s national team to win a gold medal on home soil. The national team went undefeated this summer in Towson, Md., in the World Lacrosse Women’s Championship with her at the helm.

Levy was inducted previously into the USA Lacrosse Greater Baltimore Chapter Hall of Fame in 2010. 

Ahead of her induction into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Stone sat down with USA Lacrosse’s Paul Ohanian via Zoom to discuss her life in lacrosse. Below is an excerpt of their conversation.

Paul Ohanian: What was different about lacrosse from others that that you had played? What was it about lacrosse that continued to keep you involved?

Jenny Levy: Ah, so I played a lot of sports growing up — soccer, field hockey, basketball, tennis. I played in the neighborhood all the time, and I just loved how creative [lacrosse] was. I loved that you could be fast and run. I loved the transition game back then. It was a little different than it is today, but still fast. I just loved how fast and free flowing it was. And I remember sitting in school and smelling the fresh-cut grass and thinking, ‘Yep, it’s about to be lacrosse season.’ So, it’s just a really good memory for me.







Paul Ohanian: How did you get to North Carolina, and what was it like launching the program there?

Jenny Levy: So, I was at Georgetown. We were in field hockey season in the fall of 1994. And there had been a rumor that Carolina was going to have a varsity women’s lacrosse program. So, I was one of many that put my hat in the ring. I think I was one of four interviewed. I was definitely the underdog for the job. I was the only one that did not have head coaching experience at the time, and I’d never been to Chapel Hill. I came down and interviewed and was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to be the head coach by John Swofford, who was the AD at the time. And a month later, I moved down into Chapel Hill and actually lived in James Taylor’s old house, so my very first introduction to Chapel Hill was in the house that James Taylor grew up in, which was kind of a fun fact. And right around the corner from Dean Smith. But yeah, that was that. Didn’t feel like too long ago, but it was definitely 20 years ago now. And the rest has been a lot of hard work but a labor of love, for sure.

Paul Ohanian: What has lacrosse meant to your life as a whole?

Jenny Levy: I can’t imagine my life without lacrosse. My earliest memories that I have is with lacrosse. My friendships that I’ve had have been through lacrosse. My friends told me I’m really competitive, which I knew I was competitive. But I think I’m probably on the one end of the continuum of competitiveness. The personal growth, the collective growth of a team, the challenges that have been brought, whether it’s on field or off field, through injury, I’ve had a lot of people, fortunately, that just enjoying all the special moments, and it keeps the game of lacrosse simple. And so, it really grounds you in simplicity, but yet a lot of beauty, too. And all these little things that are wrapped up into the game of lacrosse and moments that you can learn from, that you grow from, and that just make your heart bigger. I just, I can’t imagine living life without lacrosse. It’s a big part of what I do. It’s a big part of my family. My husband played lacrosse, my kids play lacrosse. It’s an amazing game. And to see different groups take care of each other. More importantly, off the field, through good times and tough times. That resonates with me the most. When I see a team help a teammate go through a personal struggle, but it might be well after they’ve hung up the stick. And that, to me, is the most moving and rewarding thing that really touches me at the core.

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