Amonte Hiller: 'The Moment That the Work Starts'


U.S. head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller told the 36 members of the U.S. training team, "You have to think about this moment as the moment that the work starts,”

The process started with more than 500 applicants. Just over 100 hundred of them were invited to tryouts. By Sunday afternoon, 36 of the nation’s best young women’s lacrosse players sat in their chairs at US Lacrosse headquarters as U.S. U19 Head Coach Kelly Amonte Hiller congratulated them for making the 2019 U.S. training team.

There were rightfully smiles everywhere, and a sense of accomplishment, but there’s much to be done.

“You have to think about this moment as the moment that the work starts,” Amonte Hiller said. “The work and the opportunity really starts, and the journey begins.”

In less than 365 days, the U.S. team will be playing in the 2019 Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s U19 World Championship in Peterborough, Ontario. The mission is clear — bring back the gold.

In 2015, Canada stunned the U.S. 9-8 in the gold medal game in Edinburgh, Scotland. The loss snapped a 35-game U.S. winning streak in U19 women’s international play that dated to 1995.

Three of Amonte Hiller’s Northwestern players — Selena Lasota, Danita Stroup and Lydia Sutton — played for the Canadian team. She felt joy for them, but also anguish for incoming Northwestern players Claire Quinn and Mallory Weisse, who played for the U.S. team.

It also brought back a familiar personal feeling.

Amonte Hiller, one of the most decorated players in the history of the sport and a National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee, had a disappointing end to her playing career when the U.S. lost to Australia in the 2005 World Cup championship game.

This past weekend was the first time she’s worn Team USA gear since that summer day over a decade ago.

“Just to have the USA jersey on again, even as a coach, it’s a special thing,”Amonte Hiller. “I feel a lot of fire to get this gold back for the United States. That’s kind of how I left my career, on a silver medal. My staff and myself just feel really motived to help the U.S. bring back the gold.”

That desire attracted her to the position and the tryout provided the first opportunity to see her vision for the team come to life.

“It was definitely a rigorous process,” Amonte Hiller said. “We put a lot of work in and to get from 500 to 100 was a really tough process. This weekend, it was fun to work with the players and coach them and see them compete in scrimmages.”

Down to the final scrimmage, Amonte Hiller and her staff were evaluating players for the final spots on the training team roster.

“Some of you guys fought back all day long and played a lot today, and showed incredible heart and that’s what really got you here,” Amonte Hiller told the assembled group. “You should be incredibly proud of yourselves.”

But, as she said, the work is just beginning. The team will hold training camps in October and January during the school year, followed by a series of training weekends leading up to the world championship next August.

Amonte Hiller and her staff still have more difficult decisions to make. Ultimately, the roster will be trimmed to the final 18 players that is the maximum allowed by FIL regulations.

But the journey will be worth it. Amonte Hiller has experienced it firsthand playing in three different World Cups in three different countries. The excitement was renewed last month as she watched the U.S. men’s team win a dramatic gold medal game against Canada. She plans on learning from that coaching staff, the past U19 women’s staff and the U.S. senior team staff as she gets ready for the world championship.

“It’s pretty cool to see what’s happening at US Lacrosse – the cohesiveness of the U.S. program, and to be a small part of that is a really special experience.”

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