Behind the Whistle: Three Questions for Rachael Bragg


This story initially appeared on Behind the Whistle, the official blog of the IWLCA, and is being republished with permission from the organization. Rachael Bragg is the head coach at Transylvania University.

Editor’s Note: From time to time we will feature a short Q&A with an IWLCA member coach. The format will be one question about lacrosse, one question about life, and one fun question.

1. Describe the characteristics of the ideal Division III women’s lacrosse student-athlete and why they are important.

Grit: This characteristic encompasses a student-athlete’s heart, determination, hustle and drive. It pushes you to get through tough situations whether on the field, in the classroom or in life. Having grit can be the determining factor to how hard you push yourself in the weight room, to convince your teammates you’re capable of winning the one-goal game with one minute left, or to motivate you to do better on your next exam because you know the last grade you got wasn’t your best. It’s a characteristic that allows that internal motivation to win every day, even on some of the hardest days. As young adults, student-athletes go through a lot of changes and challenges during their college years. Grit allows you to push through them and to find your inner strength.

Passion: Having a love for the game because being a Division III student-athlete isn’t easy. As coaches, we demand a lot of our players in all aspects of their lives, and some days players aren’t going to like it. But passion allows student-athletes to remember their why, their love of the game and their reasoning for choosing the Division III experience in the first place.

Willingness to Invest: This characteristic embodies a player’s “buy in” mentality. A student-athlete must be willing to invest in the college or university’s atmosphere, their education, the team’s culture and their teammates. Their college experience is their first big investment in themselves and figuring out their future.

2. What do you think is the best thing a young athlete can do to develop their leadership skills through team sports?

In order for a student-athlete to best develop their leadership skills, they need to remember that the heart of leadership is serving others.

There is no task “too big” for one player. You always have your teammates’ backs and have a “we before me” mentality. Never be afraid to ask questions, and any day is an opportunity to learn and grow. Lastly, to best serve others, you must take care of yourself, mentally, physically and emotionally.

3. You are stuck in an elevator for three hours by yourself ... but you have your favorite book in your bag! What book is it, and why is it your favorite?

I’m claustrophobic, so this wouldn’t be my idea of a fun time, but if I had no choice and had to be stuck for three hours, the book I would be reading is Sum It Up, by Pat Summitt, former Tennessee women’s basketball coach.

Summitt is one of my favorite coaches of all time. I grew up watching her coach the Lady Vols and saw her exude passion for her team and the sport. Obviously, she was one of the most successful basketball coaches, but reading her book allowed me to see a different side to what we do. We wear so many hats as coaches, and this book was one of the first that I read to allow me to see just how important each one of those hats are ... more than the X’s and O’s.

If you’re a basketball fan or just a Pat Summitt fan, I highly recommend it.


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