In her time at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, Laurie Merian was a four-year letter winner in lacrosse, gained first team status in the Conference Carolina and was named the lacrosse team MVP in her sophomore year.
Although she had tremendous success in college, Merian followed a similar path that many recent college graduates experience post-graduation. Upon graduating from Belmont Abbey, she had little idea what she was going to do with her life.
The unfamiliar territory led her back to her collegiate lacrosse coach and her dad, who both nudged her in the direction of coaching. Merian was hired as the head coach for Alma College in 2011. This was also Alma’s first year as a program. She eventually led the Scots to two MIAA championship appearances.
In 2014, Merian joined the coaching staff at the University of Detroit Mercy, a Division I school. After two seasons, she was promoted to head coach of the program. During her tenure, Merian helped the team post a 16-19 record, break 11 team records and finish 21st in DI in points per game (20.44).
All of Merian’s prior coaching experience led her to the job at Albion. She saw it as an opportunity to help build an already successful program as well as spend more time with her family.
“The time commitment that DI expects, it was just taking a lot from my family” said Merian. “I was getting to the point where I didn’t want to miss all of the little moments with them.”
The transition from a DI program to a Division III program brings a unique set of rules that forces coaches to adapt. Merian has been required to make a few adjustments, especially during the preseason. “The biggest adjustment [from DI to DIII] would be the amount of time that I get with the players. I am used to getting a lot of time with them” said Merian.
The NCAA restricts the number of practice hours for student-athletes during the preseason period in DIII competition. This requires teams to make the most of the time that they are given.
As for this year’s team, Merian has set high expectations and goals. “I expect to win a MIAA conference championship and the [NCAA] tournament championship,” said Merian. She believes that this year’s team has the talent, ability and drive to achieve the goals that have been set out for them.
Achieving these high expectations will require a lot of work. Merian has been pleased with the hard work and overall atmosphere of the team thus far.
“These are honestly the hardest working girls I’ve ever coached, so that was a great surprise to come into,” she said.
Merian is excited about the existing winning culture that this team possesses. The women are primed for another shot at the MIAA championship. They most recently won the MIAA tournament in 2015 and finished with the best record in the conference (8-0) in 2016. Although the Briton’s first official game won’t be played until this spring, the team is looking forward to another big year on the field.