Susan Stuart-Elliott

Susan Stuart-Elliott ’89

head lacrosse coach
Colorado College

The adrenaline of reaching goals with her Heron teammates set a path in motion for Susan Stuart-Elliott ’89, now the head lacrosse coach at Colorado College, where she passes down her favorite lessons and shares new ones with her players. We ask the lifelong Heron:

Q: How have you evolved as a coach?

A: “When I was playing soccer at William Smith, Head Coach Aliceann Wilber P’12 once said to me, ‘You need to become a student of the game.’ She always had the best lines.

Her point was, I wasn’t making smart decisions. I needed to study what was going on around me. I wasn’t a good soccer player, but that helped me as a lacrosse player, and I never forgot that. I’m always trying to learn, watching other sports to see how to translate what works. If you don’t adapt, you’re not doing a good job as a coach. You should always be evolving your own philosophy, looking at what other people are doing, trying different things to get out of the box. Our game changes every other year.

In the age we live in, with everything right there on your phone, we become pretty insular, and I find myself telling the players, ‘Get outside of yourself. The world is bigger than us.’ We’re trying to find the strength of the team by everyone doing their job. The power of the team is what becomes unbeatable, and that translates to your worldview.

From Aliceann and former Head Coach of William Smith Lacrosse Pat Genovese P'01, P'03, P'05, P'08, I also learned that good coaching takes compassion. Anyone who has played for either of them, you knew you were loved by those coaches, no matter how many sprints they made you do. There was a sense of family, and I’ve really made that central to how we’ve built our program.”

To Rally A Team

As Colorado College’s first and only varsity head coach, Susan Stuart- Elliott ’89 has established the Tigers lacrosse team as a perennial contender for an NCAA Division III playoff bid and a national championship, leading the team to the round of 16 this spring.

During her 23 seasons, her teams have made nine NCAA Tournament appearances, six of them consecutive from 2002 through 2007. Under her leadership, the Tigers also posted the biggest comeback in the tournament’s history when in 2007 they overcame a 9-0 deficit to defeat Nazareth College in triple overtime. In addition to her coaching duties, she served as the strength and conditioning coach for the Tigers’ entire athletic department until 2012.

While earning her bachelor’s degree in English and religious studies, Stuart-Elliott became one of the top goalies in William Smith lacrosse history, finishing her career on the team with 421 saves, a .629 save percentage and a 7.29 goals against average. In her first season as a starter, she backstopped William Smith all the way to the 1988 NCAA championship game. During her senior year, she led the Herons to the NCAA semifinals, earning a spot on the All-Tournament team on her way to first team All-America and All-State accolades.

The first William Smith player to earn a spot on the national lacrosse team, Stuart-Elliott played for Team USA from 1989 to 1995. She has remained engaged in the international sport with Team Canada, as starting goalie in the 1997 and 2001 World Cup tournaments, and as an assistant coach during the World Cup in 2005 and in 2013, when the team won the silver medal.

Stuart-Elliott came to Colorado College in 1995 after spending the previous three years as a graduate assistant coach at James Madison University, where she earned her master’s degree in kinesiology.

Since 2001, the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association has recognized Stuart-Elliott as West Region Coach of the Year six times. Among her many accolades, Stuart- Elliott was inducted into the Heron Hall of Fame in 2007. –Andrew Wickenden ’09


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