The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

Natalie Hughes’ headshot.

Girls Lacrosse Coach Comes Back to Her Roots

What if a team could completely change their atmosphere all in one season? Although it seems like the plot of a classic underdog sports movie, it is what Fluvanna County High School’s Girls Lacrosse program is trying to do during the spring 2024 season.

FCHS’s Girls Lacrosse team is hoping to turn around their 3-12 record from last season, and instead have a comeback for the spring 2024 season. With a new head coach, Natalie Hughes, this goal is not far from the team’s reach.

Hughes has had lacrosse in her life for a long time. She played her high school career at FCHS, where she learned how to truly love the sport and how to become a star player. She ended up playing Division III lacrosse at Ferrum College in southwest Virginia, and was assistant coach for the FCHS Girls Lacrosse team during the 2022-2023 spring season. As a coach, she relies on lessons learned from her father while still a player.

“When I played for Fluvanna, my late father was my coach. He fueled my love for this sport and instilled so much valuable information during my time as an athlete that I get to now share as a coach. I love that I am able to fill his footsteps on the same field that he once coached me on,” said Hughes.

Hughes has many life lessons and previous experiences she’s ready to share with her team. Players have expressed that when Hughes makes a point in practice, usually when introducing a new habit she wants her team to pick up on, she adds a story from her past when she played. These, often cautionary, stories could deal with issues as little as jewelry and what playing with it on could end up like, or as big as the importance of protection given by mouth guards and the horrors she has seen if players don’t use them.

Confidence is key when it comes to sports, and that is one of the main things Coach Hughes hopes for her players to embark on.

“I think the area I really want to see growth in this season is the confidence of all of our players,” said Hughes. “I want our girls to have a sense of pride within themselves and amongst the team.”

This emphasis on confidence, something that carries off the field and into everyday life proves that Hughes cares deeply about her players, not only as athletes, but as people.

“Having confidence, pride, and accountability in both practices and in games will help build team morale this season. Feelings that they will not only carry out onto the field, but also into their lives outside of FCHS,” said Hughes.

Another benefit of Hughes’ experience in lacrosse is she knows what the tempo of a team should be. Hughes is ready for fast-paced, efficient practices with new skills for her team to focus on.

“There’s going to be a familiar change in tempo in our offensive plays, defensive tactics, and clears. Changes that may seem ‘new’ to the team that I think they will really like,” said Hughes.

This change in tempo is an echo of her time as a player, since she still has her playbook from her high school and college career, which she is inspired by, and is planning on using this season. Hughes is looking forward to upping the pace of her team, sharing the information she’s learned from past coaches, and truly growing her girls as rounded players. She hopes that the change in tempo will be evident in games and lead the team to a successful season.

Former players are starting to feel the difference on the practice field, with many loving the new atmosphere. A new atmosphere is hard to adjust to, but Hughes is making it easy and comfortable for all.

“I can already feel the change of pace in which we practice and the stricter atmosphere. We run a lot more than we used to and I can tell it’s a big change for a lot of us,” said sophomore Marley Rochester.

Girls Lacrosse has their first scrimmage Feb. 29 at home against James Monroe High School. This scrimmage is varsity only, and will start at 6 p.m. For future games and scrimmages, JV plays at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 7:00 p.m. with games typically on Mondays and Fridays.

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