June 30, 2011

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New Coach Ginger Miles Eager to "Start Writing That New Chapter" at Cal

by Clare Lochary | Laxmagazine.com

Ginger Miles is an East Coast laxer (from Maryland, went to Virginia) who’s found success on the West Coast (32-6 record in two seasons at DIII Claremont-McKenna-Scripps (Calif.)  College, a 2011 tournament bid that ended in a second-round loss to eventual champion Gettysburg). She’s raising her game to the next level now, with her first Division I head coaching job at Cal. The Bears had a rocky year, but Miles says the program is now secure and she plans to build the Bears up as a competitor in the MPSF.

What was it that attracted you to the job at Cal?
Personally, it was a position that was going to be next step in my professional career growth. I wanted to take over a program with a very solid foundation and a very tight-knit group of girls. The allure of Cal is fantastic – it’s a place where we’ll be able to attract the best athletes in the country.

Did you have any reservations about the position, given the tenuous position of Cal’s varsity status over the past year?
Obviously with the amount of money that’s been raised, the program has a very solid footing for the next seven to 10 years and I will be working very, very diligently to make sure we never find ourselves in the same position. We want the program stable long term. Obviously that was a concern I had going into the interview process but I’ve been assured by the athletic administration that they are committed to Cal lacrosse. Part of that is very evident with their high performance initiative. They’re not only building new facilities but restructuring how the athletic department functions, and going forward all the programs are going to be successful. I was really encouraged by the administration and all the wonderful, positive things I’ve heard from the other coaches. One thing I got from visiting campus, I thought everybody was really happy to be a Bear. It’s a family that I’m very happy to be joining.

How will you define success for Cal lacrosse in the coming year?
We would love, love to be able to compete with the top tier of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and get that AQ in the tournament and get that NCAA bid. The goal now is to dig our heels in and I know this is hardworking group of girls and obviously, they love Cal and they love playing lacrosse because they were willing to give up that DI opportunity after the program was cut. I’m walking into a group that’s committed, dedicated and resilient. We want to change the landscape of West Coast lacrosse. Building on my position at Claremont-McKenna, I love being on the forefront of that western movement and watching the sport grow. It’s so exciting to see more and more kids picking up sticks.

What sort of team do you want to put together? What kind of lacrosse do you like to see?
One of the reasons we’ve been so successful at CMS is because we have smart players. I like to engineer smart lacrosse. That’s the lacrosse we played at Virginia, and that’s what we played at CMS. Patterns, motions, defensive sets that allow our players to outthink their opponents, to allow players to be relatively active but with discipline and poise and composure that relies on their intelligence. Taking the smart path, making the right decision. I brand it as ‘smart lacrosse.’ It’s fun, it’s high paced and it takes advantage of other teams’ weaknesses.

How are you approaching the recruiting trail this summer?
Right now, it’s a matter of me coming in and getting a picture of what the 12s (ie, high schools graduating in 2012). The prior staff was in communications with a handful of athletes, and it’s imperative to get myself lopped in. We’re behind the eight ball but there’s tremendous talent out there, late bloomers and kids who slipped through the cracks.

You’re an East Coaster yourself, but you’ve been out on the West Coast for a few years now. Do you focus on getting players from hot bed areas, or are you looking close to home?
At CMS, I had a couple East Coasters sign up to make that transfer from East to West Coast. There are a number of athletes each year who grow up in cold areas and are looking for a change, or who have family or ties to the San Francisco area. There are those kids out that who will be attracted to all that the school and the athletic department have to offer. We are going to spend a good portion of our recruiting efforts focusing on the state of California. As lacrosse continues to grow in this state, we’re going to go after those kids very heavily. I think we’re going to be just fine, recruiting wise.

Are you familiar with any of the Cal players from recruiting?
I am familiar with some of the players thru recruiting. I haven’t gotten my hands on game film yet, but you can believe we’ll be popping in DVDs and getting popcorn and spending time with them. I know we’ve got a wonderful goalie, Megan McGuinness waiting in the wings, who I worked with at the Cal camp. I’m sure she’s going to step into Allie Shropshire’s shoes. As a goalie myself, I’m really looking forward to working with her. We’ve got a strong foundation.

Where are the players mentally at this point? They’ve had such a crazy year, with the program discontinued and then reinstated, and now a new coach.
I had the opportunity to interview with a handful of them and talked to some of the members of the old staff – [former assistant coach] Nikki Lieb and I were college roommates -- they’re really excited to have named someone and be able to move forward. What happened this past year happened, and there’s nothing that can be done to undo it. They’re ready to start writing that new chapter and turn the page and look forward. We have really great role models looking at Cal baseball, and seeing them rally together and the success of that team. [Note: Cal baseball was also slated for elimination in the same round of budget cuts as women’s lacrosse but a multi-team agreement, largely funded by Cal rugby alums, brought back both teams. Cal baseball finished 38-23 and qualified for the College World Series for the first time since 1992.]

Cal faced, and eventually lost to, Virginia in that College World Series. As a former Cavalier, who were you rooting for there?
That series was a tough one for me, but knowing my new allegiances, I’ll say, ‘Go Bears!’

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