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Franklin - Local Town Pages

FHS’ Igoe Handled Canceled Season in Classy, Sensitive Fashion

Sep 02, 2020 11:26AM ● By KEN HAMWEY, Staff Sports Writer

With Covid-19 quashing hopes of a state tournament they’d have had a good chance of winning, Franklin Lacrosse, coached by Kristin Igoe, is learning to take each day as it comes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: At Local Town Pages deadline, neither Governor Baker nor the Department of Education had ruled on the status of interscholastic sports for the fall. 

Kristin Igoe has a wealth of experience in lacrosse.

The 30-year-old mother of two was a three-time Bay State Conference all-star at Framingham High where she helped the Flyers win two State championships. At Boston College, where she majored in bio-chemistry, the midfielder was an Atlantic Coast Conference all-star who played in the NCAA Tournament. After graduation, she took her game to a higher level, playing two seasons in the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League. 

Now in her eighth year as Franklin High’s girls’ lacrosse coach, Igoe has led the Panthers to three Sectional championships and three appearances in the State playoffs. Although her squad was unable to compete last spring because of the global pandemic, her teams have qualified for tourney play in all the seven seasons she’s coached.

And, as far as her daily work schedule goes, Igoe is a co-owner and instructor at Gold Star Lacrosse, a club organization that offers girls from grades 3-12 instruction in the sport and the ability to compete in tournaments and summer leagues.

About the only aspect that was lacking in Igoe’s expansive lacrosse background was how to coach while dealing with a virus that’s claimed thousands of lives. She wasn’t alone, because a vast majority of educators, even PHds, admit they never had pandemic training.

Igoe now has that experience. 

“There was no playbook on dealing with a pandemic but it’s being written now,’’ she  said. “We’re getting experience and adapting as we go. Hard decisions are being made, and they produce good and bad outcomes. Not everyone is pleased with all the decision-making, but the big picture is the health and safety of everyone — families, students, communities and the nation.’’

When in-school learning ended in March and spring sports were canceled, Igoe obviously was disappointed, but she was acutely aware of the severity of the situation. Her 2020 team was loaded with players who were skilled and experienced. Their goal was to get to the State title game and win it.

“Our team in 2019 had lots of freshmen and sophomores,’’ Igoe noted. “We lost only two seniors. So, our nucleus last spring would have had four seniors who were in the program all four years and a large group of experienced sophomores and juniors. There’s no doubt that team could have won a Sectional crown and competed for a State title. Unfortunately, they never got that chance.’’

What followed for Igoe was crucial — to soothe her players’ disappointment and to maintain communication with them.

“It was difficult for our seniors,’’ she said. “But I stressed to all the players that when they’re on a lacrosse field, they can’t control every aspect of the game. I focused on how a player has to concentrate on the moment. I also emphasized that lacrosse, or any sport, so often teaches life lessons. It can teach players how to overcome adversity. And, I emphasized that as they move forward in life, they’ll be tougher and stronger for dealing with this crisis.’’

Igoe’s communication skills get high marks for the way she contacted her players and buoyed their spirits.

“I stayed connected with the girls as much as I could,’’ she recalled. “We did a lot of Zoom chats and had a virtual Senior Night. The key was to be active with conversation, whether it was by phone or Zoom. Having a season canceled can dull one’s competitive nature and limit social development. Conversation can help one’s mental health. It was important to be encouraging and supportive going forward.’’

Igoe knew that her four seniors were “hurt the most’’ by the decision to eliminate athletics last spring, but she fully understood the effect it had on all the classes.

“The seniors were playing their final season at Franklin,’’ Igoe said. “We never got to vote, but all four of our seniors likely would have been captains. They lost their chance to compete and to display their leadership abilities. Juniors lost the opportunity to be seen by college coaches in hopes of getting a scholarship or financial aid. Freshmen and sophomores lost a chance to become varsity players and they lost a chance to build confidence. And, everyone lost the opportunity to improve and sharpen their skills.’’

Igoe’s work load at Gold Star Lacrosse was lighter during the spring, because club teams were unable to compete. The club organization, however, stepped up its activities as the State relaxed covid-19 restrictions.

“Our summer schedule started late, but we put together a summer league format that began in mid-July,’’ Igoe noted. “It was a five-game schedule of non-contact lacrosse. Some of my players competed. I couldn’t coach them, because of MIAA regulations, but the girls got the information, conducted sign-ups and coached themselves.’’

As far as continuing to play professionally, Igoe didn’t get the chance this year, because the WPLL canceled its season because of the pandemic. “The league was having some difficulty getting sponsors,’’ she said. “With finances presenting some problems, the league called off its season when the virus struck. I’m now 30 and I’ve decided to retire as a pro.’’

Fully aware that her players are working out and staying in shape, Igoe realizes that individual workouts aren’t always popular. “Not everyone likes to work out alone,’’ she said. “Some like to be with teammates and even have their coach around to motivate them. Usually, your best players are self-motivating but, when preparing for a season, you need your entire team on board.’’

Igoe’s extensive experience and advice no doubt have helped all her players who would have competed last spring. And, when the 2021 season arrives, hopefully a vaccine and advanced therapeutics will have conquered the virus. And, at that time, Igoe will be assembling her roster that will include “girls who have a dynamic work ethic, who are coachable and take advice, who have leadership qualities, a high lacrosse IQ, high character and who communicate well,” says Igoe.