Nov. 13, 2008
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Senior Lauren Gillam (Acworth, Ga.) has been elected by her peers to serve as Navy's team captain for the 2009 women's lacrosse season.
"We are thrilled to have Lauren lead this year's team," said Navy head coach Cindy Timchal. "She is well-respected in the locker room, she works hard, she's very approachable if players have problems or concerns and her goal, above-all, is to win.
"We have terrific team chemistry and Lauren, undoubtedly, has played a major part in facilitating that."
In 2008, Gillam, a starting defender from Acworth, Ga., helped the Midshipmen women to establish an NCAA record for the most wins by a first-year program (13). She played in 16 of 17 games, picked up 10 ground balls and forced six turnovers for the Patriot League's least scored upon defense (10.53 GAA).
"I am very honored obviously that my teammates voted me as captain," said Gillam. "It's exciting and I am looking forward to the challenge that comes with it both on- and off-the-field. I love my team, I love the girls I play with and I know that looking after them is my first priority."
Navy brings back seven of its top-10 scorers from the nation's second-highest scoring offense in 2008.
Navysports.com recently caught up with Gillam, just the second player to hold the captaincy in Midshipmen's DI tenure.
The Gillam File
Lauren Elizabeth Gillam
Senior * 5-6 * Defense
Acworth, Ga. / Harrison HS
Major: International Relations
***First off, what was your reaction when you found out your teammates voted you as captain?
It was very exciting. I know it was one of those things where the team wasn't necessarily looking for the best player. They were looking for more of a leader off the field. And that's where I will put an extra emphasis. I understand how important it is to take care of the girls, to look after them and make sure they know they have someone they can come to. And I am not alone in that, all of our first-class have taken on that mentoring role.
***Now that you've wrapped up the fall season, how excited are you about this year's team?
A starting defender, Gillam played in 16 of 17 games a year ago.
You've had a chance to get back out on the field, you've fared against some quality opponents and the newcomers have had a chance to get some on-field experience under their belts. What can you tell me about the 2009 squad? I am so pumped. I think we made our mark setting the record for the best season by a team in its inaugural season.
This group of freshmen that have come in have really raised the level of play. We probably have four or five newcomers that will start this year.
We are still young, but we will continue to build and move forward. I think we are going to do some great things. Our goal is to win the Patriot League championship and then to be a threat in the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, we first will work towards that first goal against what will be a very competitive conference.
***Heading into the program's second varsity season, how much more comfortable is the team on and off the field?
It's been like night and day. Last year, we were still a fledgling program. Everything was new and we were still sort of forming our identity. This year's team is totally different. The chemistry and our make-up are just fantastic. Now, we are a well-oiled machine.
We all communicate with each other. I meet with the coaches at least once a week and we talk about what's going on with the team in the hall and discuss any issues the team might have. I think we are all a lot more comfortable now that we have a year under our belts.
*** It's obviously an exciting time for the Navy women's lacrosse program. Before moving forward, let's start with how you got here. What brought you to the Naval Academy?
I am from kind of a small town in Georgia. My high school was pretty big - about 500 students in my senior class. Most of the people I went to school with tend to just stay in Georgia. I think all except four or five people from my graduating class stayed within a three-hour radius of my high school.
I really wanted something different, a challenge, something new. My dad was a Naval aviator. He flew A6s - he didn't go to the Academy, but one day he brought up the idea of coming here.
I looked into it more and the more I saw, the more I kind of liked it. The honor, the courage, the commitment. The ideals that the Naval Academy stands for really resonated with me. I like the experience of being away from home. I love the opportunities we are afforded to travel and also just the challenge that comes along with being a Midshipman.
***With your family still in Georgia, do they ever get a chance to come up and see you play during the year?
They do. My dad is a Delta pilot now so we fly for free. It works really nicely. They come up here fairly often. I have three younger siblings so sometimes it's hard for everyone to get on the same page with them always playing different sports all the time. I know my little brother, who's 10, absolutely loves everything about this place. He just can't get enough of it when he visits!
***What's something people would be surprised to learn about this team? Do you have any special traditions or any pregame rituals?
We love to have dance parties. We always have an iPod going in the locker room. Last season, prior to games we would usually go out and throw for about a half hour and then go back into the locker room and have a dance party. We'd then go back out and do our warm ups before we play.
Our team definitely has a bunch of really talented dancers. I think its kind of a way to calm any nerves before gametime. We all enjoy hanging out and having fun together.
***The team obviously appears to get along very well together. Do you think the closeness of the squad will help translate into further successes on the field?
I love spending times with the girls on the team. They are some of my best friends at the Academy. Earlier this fall, we all went down to the Duke football game together and stayed at one of the girls' houses. We've kind of developed a sisterhood. In the locker room and on the field it's a really comfortable and friendly atmosphere.
On top of that, we are fortunate to be led by a world-class coaching staff. Cindy Timchal of course is one of the best coaches ever in the sport. Allison (Valentino) was an All-American at Loyola and then coached at Duke, Kristen Waagbo was an All-American who came from Duke as well, and of course, Kelly Coppedge, who was a three-time All-American at Maryland and has won a national championship.
Between our chemistry, the talented newcomers and the coaches - we definitely have the recipe for success in 2009.
*** GO NAVY ! ***