The Occidental women’s lacrosse team has emerged as a SCIAC and NCAA Division-III powerhouse over the past two seasons. After the departure of former head coach Michele Uhlfelder this past off season, new head coach Stephanie Janice has built upon the strong foundation established over the program’s five-year history. Though the squad lost several seniors at the end of last year, the returning corps and the team’s newcomers have risen to the challenge under Janice’s tutelage, currently holding a 6-1 overall (6-0 SCIAC) record.
Janice moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast upon being offered the position of head coach, joining her fiancé and Caltech head baseball coach Matthew Mark in Southern California.
Born in New Jersey, Janice attended Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where she played Division-I lacrosse in the American Lacrosse Conference (ALC). Following her collegiate career as a student-athlete, she returned to NCAA lacrosse as a coach – first at Goucher College (Baltimore) and later at Allegheny College (Meadville, Penn.).
Director of Athletics Jaime Hoffman was intimately involved in the search for a new women’s lacrosse head coach after Uhlfelder’s departure. Following conversations with both Uhlfelder and Betsey Mitchell, former Director of Athletics at Allegheny College, Hoffman was confident in pursuing Janice.
“She was a phenomenal player at one of the top national powerhouse colleges for lacrosse,” Hoffman said. “She is a winner wherever she goes.”
Janice has enjoyed success in the sport throughout her career, both as a player and coach. However, her lacrosse experience up until her recent move to Los Angeles has been exclusively on the East Coast.
“It is exciting for me to come out here and help grow the sport,” Janice said. “People are enthusiastic because it is new. I have been so impressed with the SCIAC play. The athleticism is there.”
Janice also enjoys the perks of Los Angeles weather. In stark contrast to the East Coast, where the threat of snow and freezing temperatures frequently looms during the lacrosse season, the Southern California climate was welcomed by Janice with open arms.
“It is very impressive to not have to have any indoor practices in the gym,” Janice said. “I do not have to worry about frostbite. Our abilities to succeed in a short amount of time has been fostered by the weather. It is really amazing.”
Janice has also clicked with the Occidental community, more specifically her team.
“Oxy has such a campus feel, but the city is at your fingertips if you want it,” Janice said. “Everyone seems to be in a good mood all the time. I’ve also just been really impressed with my student-athletes. They are really motivated not only on the [lacrosse] field, but also in the classroom.”
The players have embraced the transition equally, backing Janice’s efforts with strong performances on game day. Captain defender Emily Fowler (senior) spoke highly of Janice’s coaching and relationship with the team.
“We had such a fresh start with her being new,” Fowler said. “She really embraced [the Occidental] mentality.”
Now, at the mid-way point of the 2014 season and with six wins under her belt, Janice wants to continue improving attendance at lacrosse games from both the on-campus and off-campus communities.
“I have been impressed with the vibe on campus and the good amount of spirit,” Janice said. “I want to keep garnering the excitement towards lacrosse.”
The Tigers were in action against North Central (Ill.) at the time of publication. The team hosts Pacific Lutheran today at 4 p.m. at Jack Kemp Stadium.