This afternoon, it was announced that Leslie Frank, who singlehandedly turned the girls’ lacrosse program at Westwood (Mass.) into a national powerhouse, is resigning.
Frank has won eight Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association championships since taking over in 1999, posting nearly 400 wins.
But she also helped transform the landscape of Massachusetts public-school girls’ lacrosse. In the late 1990s, the game was in shambles because of rules mandating soft helmets.
Many top recruits started attending New England Preparatory Schools Athletic Council (NEPSAC) schools, and coaches were recruiting heavily from the private schools.
But Frank and her Westwood program were determined, once the helmets came off, to develop a program based on skills and execution both on offense and defense.
Westwood got noticed when alumna Kristen Kjellman won two straight Tewaaraton trophies for being the finest NCAA women’s lacrosse player while at Northwestern. Since then, there has been a steady stream of Wolverines going to play at the Lakeside, including Ali Jacobs, Sara Harrington, and the coach’s daughters, Alex and Meredith.
It got to the point when the phenomenon was dubbed “Northwestwood.”
Two phenomena have occurred since Westwood came into prominence. One is that other New England states started to invest time and money into their public-school girls’ lacrosse teams. Lacrosse was not seen as an afterthought after hockey season ended.
But second, as Frank’s former players have graduated, they are coming back to Massachusetts and are opposing Frank on the field of play. This includes Kristin Igoe at Franklin (Mass.), Tanner Guarino at Holliston (Mass.), Katelyn Barry at Dover-Sherborn (Mass.), Erica Marrocco at Duxbury (Mass.), and Meredith Frank at Hingham Notre Dame (Mass.).
“It’s very hard to play against them,” the elder Frank tells Wicked Local Westwood.” I am inspired, but I feel like it’s just time sit back and watch the greatness in them that is ready to explode.”
And after 18 glorious seasons, why not?