If it seems like the Riverside girls lacrosse team is learning on the job, it’s probably because their head coach is as well.
Alexa Marshall has lived in North Carolina for nine months. She departed her hometown of Monroe, N.J. to take graduate courses at Duke for her Master’s Degree in Teaching. She’s also serving her internship at Riverside, where she taught history last fall.
She’s been the head coach of the Pirates for all of nine weeks.
“It’s been a pretty quick turnaround,” said Marshall.
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It’s also her first varsity coaching job, after serving as a head coach for various JV teams and private club squads in her old stomping grounds. She learned of the Riverside opening from her teaching mentor, Rebecca Stone, who directed Marshall to Pirates athletic trainer Sarah Bell.
Marshall, who was a rower in high school and college, coached lacrosse in private leagues in Apex last July.
“At first, I told them I didn’t have the time,” said Marshall. “I’m a student. But the team needed a coach and I was excited about it.”
While Marshall is new to North Carolina, some of the Riverside players are new to lacrosse.
“A lot of our girls just haven’t played the game before,” Marshall said. “Our first couple of games were spent trying to figure out where to put ourselves on the field.”
In order for Marshall to juggle the load of high school coaching while attending graduate school, Riverside is forced to practice before classes begin. That means practices at 6:45 a.m., three times a week.
“I think it’s been good,” said Marshall. “I think it’s helped with team bonding having to do that together as a bunch of high school kids, because it’s not what normally what you’re asked to do. I think it’s made them stronger because it shows how much they want to be here.”
Practices themselves carry a transition. The Pirates work out on a half field. The field in Linny Wrenn Stadium is reserved only for game days and houses two other teams in the spring.
Marshall has applied for various teaching jobs around Durham as she finishes her Master’s. Until then, she and the Riverside team will continue to grow together.
“We’re definitely building it,” said Marshall. “Our hope is it continues to grow. Next year, potentially, we have a stronger team.”