Rory Daly transitions from Novato team to coaching Redwood girls’ varsity lacrosse


Grace Bouton

Before 2009, Rory Daly had never played lacrosse, let alone coached it. However, when his niece’s Novato varsity lacrosse team needed a coach, Daly entered into the domain of the sport. Ten years later, the same Novato girls’ team who had three back-to-back losing seasons prior to Daly, were undefeated in MCAL and ranked first in the state and 12th in the nation, all under the leadership of Daly. Although he had an unconventional start to coaching, Daly has proved to be one of the top coaches in the state at both a high school and club level and has decided to bring his experience to Redwood this year.

Daly, however, is not taking over the Redwood girls’ varsity lacrosse without prior knowledge of the team. Not only has he coached as an opponent of this team of lady Giants for four years, but he also has coached the majority of the senior Redwood girls on a Bay Area club lacrosse team, Tenacity. According to Daly, though the club and high school games are different, this familiarity with the team is a benefit heading into the season.

“The high school game is a different animal. I’m with those girls two hours a day, six days a week, so you get to know the kids much better and you form a culture, whereas in club I’m with them one day a week for a couple of hours,” Daly said. “However, I know some strengths and some weaknesses of each of those girls and having that relationship with them already will make the transition for them and myself much easier.”

Caroline Soja, a senior on varsity lacrosse and past player of Coach Daly’s on Tenacity, believes that his knowledge of Redwood’s team as well as his dedication to coaching are factors that could finally help deliver an MCAL title to Redwood.

“The connection that he makes with each player is something you can’t find in other coaches. He always wants people to work hard but believes in team bonding and creating a positive culture which makes everyone feel comfortable,” Soja said.

According to Soja, Daly’s understanding of his players and the game in combination with his attitude help create a level of dedication in the team.

“He is able to understand how people play very quickly and is able to offer help and advice instantly. But the main thing is that he has such a good personality [so] that even though he makes the season really hard and has high expectations, he makes it worth it to the players,” Soja said.

According to Daly, finding a balance between the physically demanding side of the sport and the technical aspect is a difficult part of coaching that he’ll have to tackle at Redwood. However, with Stein, a workout program designed and administered by a local trainer starting in December, lacrosse players at Redwood are put through various pre-season cardiovascular and strength training circuits that often include exercises with TRX equipment. This extra level of fitness and strength entering the season makes that balance between working on skill and fitness easier for Daly to navigate, while also giving Redwood an advantage over other teams in early games.

“I think it’s extremely beneficial because it’s such a short season so you have a huge amount to pack into a small time. So if kids can come into the season in shape, I think that gives you a jump on most other programs where they have to take the first couple weeks to get into shape,” Daly said.

Junior Lauren French, a returning three-year varsity player, has not been previously coached by Daly, but his reputation at Novato and presence at Stein have made her optimistic for the season.

“He works the girls really hard in workouts and everybody has to be really committed to the sport. The girls there take it really seriously so we’re all going to have to step up our game. Also, because he’s so dedicated to the sport and he coached Novato, we know that he has a lot of potential,” French said.

According to Daly, even though it’s his first year at Redwood, he has high standards for the lady Giants going into this season.

“Without high expectations, I don’t think it’s worth doing, and high expectations aren’t solely on winning. I think there’s incredible talent at Redwood and my goal is to get them to buy into the system I run,” Daly said. “I‘ve played against this group of seniors for the past four years and I know what they’re capable of and I don’t think they’ve ever reached that full potential so I think a successful season would be getting the full potential out of the team this year.”

Having already achieved great success at Novato, Daly will begin his attempt to lead Redwood to that same success this spring with the lady Giants first game on Feb. 15 against Marin Academy.