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Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: Make a Difference

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Flowers photo

Recently I experienced a sudden and tragic loss of a very significant person (HC) in my life. She was a kind-hearted and gentle soul whose unconditional guidance was not only extremely influential to me, but life changing.

HC valued making a difference in people's lives. She was extremely instrumental in my personal and professional growth, and I am grateful for her many words of wisdom and encouragement that I continue to draw from each and every day. I am comforted by the thought that I will benefit from her shared knowledge and strength throughout the rest of my life journey. I was blessed to have experienced her gift and her difference.

Today, I honor HC and the others in my life that have had a significant impact on my development as a person and a coach.

Make a difference. Change a life. It matters.

This entry is in loving memory of HC.

Coach Ulehla

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: The Road Less Traveled

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There's a good chance you've already seen this video ...

If not, you may be living under a rock. Ha-ha, just kidding. But seriously, if you haven't seen it already, it is well worth a couple minutes of your time.

Kid President seems to be everywhere. A very good friend of mine sent me his "Pep Talk" a couple weeks ago and since then it has seemingly gone viral. He's now popping up universally -- Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and even cracking the national news circuit. But what exactly is it about Mr. Kid President that has us all so enamored with his inspirational words of wisdom?

I have to admit, I love this kid's pep talk. Something about it connects with me and motivates me. Perhaps it's his innocent optimism or jubilant words of encouragement. It could be his cheerful outlook on life, or his obvious determination to make a difference. But whatever IT is, IT got me thinking, "What am I doing that is leading to AWESOME?!"

Building a program is a lot like taking the road less traveled -- for everyone involved -- from coaches, to players, to administration to support staff. We all chose to head down a path not many have set foot on before -- we chose left when most others went right. And yes, as Kid President so articulately put it, it will be difficult at times and there might be rocks and thorns and glass on our journey, but in the end it is all worth it because it's a road that will lead to AWESOMENESS.

And who doesn't want to be AWESOME?! Maybe that's why everyone is watching Kid President's Pep Talk. Because deep down we all want to be awesome; we don't want to be boring and we want to make a difference.

Team One and Michigan women's lacrosse has a dream and we are going to keep going, keep going, keep going and keep going until we reach that dream. And then when that happens, we'll go get a better dream that leads to even more awesomeness.

Ultimately though, in life, as Kid President said, we are all on the same team and we hope you will join us on our journey!

Go Blue!

Coach Valore

With the turning of the last page in the 2012 calendar and the start of the New Year, I couldn't help but get excited knowing this year would be the year that TEAM ONE will arrive on campus. It also got me thinking about what the word TEAM means to me and how I am going to convey that message to the group of young women we have all coming together in September to form the first Michigan women's lacrosse TEAM. This quote does a good job of summing up how I feel about THE TEAM: "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team."

Lacrosse

Recently, I have been watching a lot of basketball games on TV. Basketball is similar to lacrosse in many ways. It's my favorite sport to watch, but as of late I have been watching basketball games from a coach's perspective and looking at and analyzing different strategies, game plans, adjustments made based on how the game is developing, coaching styles, etc. It probably goes without saying that I've watched many of the Michigan basketball games thus far, both men and women. The women are off to an amazing 14-2 start and earned a top 25 ranking in the AP Poll, and the men are currently ranked No. 5 in the nation. Although there is a lot of season left, it's been quite an exciting year thus far for the Maize and Blue. While it's fun to watch all that talent out there on the floor -- among both coaches and players -- what has really resonated with me most is the heart of the group of individuals that make up this year's squads ... THE TEAM.

The women had a change in coaching staff this year and with that always comes a big adjustment for players and coaches alike. With just a few short months to implement their system, the women's staff has done a tremendous job of preparing their team for success and managing to translate a new style of off-court teaching to on-court wins in a very short amount of time. They are winning games because they are playing as a TEAM; they are all on the same page.

If you listen to commentary for the men's games, you will often hear about how much they like each other, how well they play together, or the fun they have out there together on the court. When you watch them out on the floor, they are unselfish in their play. When you hear each one of them speak, they are always talking about their teammates and how great they are and circling back discussion to others -- to THE TEAM. They are a TEAM in every sense of the word. And while they are all extremely skilled basketball players with an enormous amount of talent, they are winning in the way they are right now due in large part to the fact that they are playing together as a TEAM. With such a young squad, it's not an easy task to get everyone in sync while playing at the same level, but thus far they have been able to do just that.

It's true, "Together Everyone Achieves More" and this doesn't happen by simply playing with each other, but player together, playing as a TEAM. The 2013 edition of the men's team refers to this as "WE ON" (When Everyone Operates N'Sync). Well said.

It may sound like a simple task to accomplish: to work together as a TEAM, but just because you are called a TEAM doesn't mean you play like one. As we look to build the first women's lacrosse team here at Michigan, the strength of TEAM ONE will be each individual member. The strength of each member will be TEAM ONE.

We can't wait to get started!

Coach Valore

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: There's No Place Like Home

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Ulehla Christmas tree

Happy Holidays everyone!

Right now I am with my family in Los Angeles, California, having a wonderful time. The verse below from "Home for the Holidays" sums up this time of year for me ...

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays,
'Cause no matter how far away you roam -
If you want to be happy in a million ways,
For the holidays - you can't beat home, sweet home!

Wishing you all a memorable New Year's Eve -- be safe. I'll see you next year!

Coach Ulehla

The holidays have arrived and everyone at Michigan has caught the holiday spirit bug. Campus has an added feeling of joyfulness outside of its usual warmth and happiness. Lights are strung generously throughout U-M's campus and Ann Arbor, casting a warm glow that envelops you while you walk along the busy streets of downtown. And people gather for celebrations of each other and life while sharing an optimistic anticipation for the New Year.

It's a great time of the year and a special time at Michigan.

Santa

This week we had our annual Michigan Athletic Department holiday party. It's a really fun event for all of the Athletic Department team members and their families and serves as a great way to celebrate the season with our own Michigan family. With the Big House as the host venue, you can't ask for a better back drop - it's always special to be up in the Jack Roth Club overlooking the majestic Michigan football field!

At this year's party, we had the opportunity to take special holiday themed photos on the "M" of the football field to remember the night, two of Santa's reindeer greeted us at the door (yes, live reindeer!), a photo booth inside captured some of the joyous moments of the night (keep an eye out for our Michigan women's lacrosse holiday card on Facebook!) and of course some energetic dancing capped off the evening just right. While a special appearance by Santa himself was a big hit for the kids, they also enjoyed the holiday face-painting and perhaps the biggest highlight of their night was the chocolate desert fountain (well, okay it was a big hit for us adults too!) What kid (or big kid like us) wouldn't want their favorite deserts smothered in chocolate?!

But while the heart of the holidays involves celebration and merriment, it also embraces the spirit of giving and benevolence and I am thrilled that Michigan Athletics recently announced a partnership with the Special Olympics. Service and charity is certainly something we focus on at U-M all year long, but this new relationship with the Special Olympics is a timely commitment to the spirit of giving. I'm looking forward to working with aspiring young athletes and getting involved with all of the wonderful events that come from this partnership. First up ... the "WOW!" experience of the Polar Plunge! (I think for this event I might just cheer on those very brave jumpers from the sidelines!)

I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful holiday season filled with joy, cheer, laughter and love and I wish you and yours a very happy New Year. See you in 2013!

Coach Valore

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: Team One Makes History

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Hello from sunny and warm Naples, Florida!

Our staff is currently down in the Sunshine State for our annual IWLCA meetings, and we will cap off the week recruiting at the last tournament of the fall -- the President's Cup. We've spent the past two weekends of November out on the lacrosse fields, and after a pretty chilly start to fall recruiting, the beautiful Florida weather will serve as a great way to recharge our batteries while watching some fantastic lacrosse.

After Florida, I'll be heading back to New Jersey for a couple days to spend time with family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday. I'm looking forward to enjoying a little down time and really excited to head up to Madison Square Garden the nights before and after Thanksgiving to see the Michigan men's basketball team in action in the NIT Season Tip-Off! There's nothing like college hoops in the Big Apple ... GO BLUE!

This week is a big week for our program as TEAM ONE will ink their way into the history books with the signing of their National Letters of Intent, and we couldn't be more excited! In the next couple of months, we will be celebrating each member of TEAM ONE with a special highlight on our website, and we can't wait to share with you what makes each and every member of TEAM ONE special. Congratulations to all of our U-M pioneers -- we are so proud of you and the best is yet to come!

It's hard to believe that fall will soon be in the rearview mirror and the holiday season is just around the corner, but what a great time of year this is! There sure is a lot to be thankful for, and for me the opportunity to be a part of building this lacrosse program here at Michigan is one of them! I would like to take this time to wish you a very warm, wonderful and joyous Thanksgiving filled with meaningful time spent with family and friends and, of course, delicious food!

GO BLUE!

Coach Valore

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: A Night to Remember

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Last week was pumpkin carving night. One problem, we had no pumpkins. One hour and three stops later we ventured into a Kroger grocery store, I mean pumpkin patch, and chose our blank, round, orange canvases. Not exactly the "pick out your pumpkin" experience we were looking for, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Perhaps next year we won't wait until October 30 to get into the Halloween spirit.

It was a crisp, windy, eerie night to create jack-o'-lanterns. Were they going to be a trick or a treat? The ritualistic evening went something like this...

Pumpkins

The hocus pocus began with each one of us terrorizing the Internet for the perfect ghostly image that would reflect our fury in one way or another. Travis chose Sparky, who is apparently a dog from the Halloween movie Frankenweenie, and Pam decided it was only proper to honor Gracie, a mysterious black stray cat who surreptitiously dwells in our backyard. I was thrilled to use this opportunity to celebrate Michigan PRIDE, so like any crazed Wolverine would do, I carved the block M for all the GO BLUE goons and goblins wondering in the spirited land of the Maize and Blue.

After preparing the dining room table we began operating on the big orange gourds. Hack, hack, saw, saw, hack, saw, hack and saw. It seemed as if all three of us embodied the accuracy of a lumberjack combined with the precision of a brain surgeon. I felt like a crazed artist, working madly for hours to complete my version of the "M"ona Lisa.

The final product was something special, at least to us. After we had the lighting ceremony, I couldn't help but want to scream, "It's alive, it's alive!"

The night before Halloween, otherwise known as mischief night (or Devil's night if you live in Michigan), was a memorable family event. A big thanks to Sparky, Gracie and "M" for making our evening so much fun -- it was spook-tacular!

Thankfully, I coach much better than I carve a pumpkin!

I hope you all experienced a hair-raising Halloween. I am sure it was a BOO-tastic evening.

Coach Ulehla

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: Fall is Time for Fun!

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What a fun couple of months it's been! September and October have been filled with campus visits -- both official and unofficial -- and we've had a blast. Football games in the Big House, Ice hockey games in the newly renovated Yost Arena, Wolverine tailgates, walking tours through campus on beautiful fall days where the changing leaves on trees light up the sidewalks, celebrating "Team One" with an official trip to campus and welcoming new prospective Wolverines for the first time to the wonderful place we call home.

With each visit this fall, our excitement for next September and the start of our women's lacrosse program has grown. It has given us great joy to spend time with the young women who will make up our first lacrosse team, and there's nothing better than to see the beaming smiles on their faces as we talk about the amazing journey ahead of us. A young group of girls who will be coming together to learn, grow, create and make history from the start is something truly special and unique.

And November is no less exciting as we'll kick off the month signing the first women's lacrosse players to program history! November is also a big recruiting month for us, so we'll be hitting the road nearly every weekend, and I'm excited to get back out there and watch some great lacrosse! The 11th month of the year also brings with it the 2012 edition of the IWLCA Convention in Naples, Fla. I'm looking forward to connecting with fellow coaches, getting caught up with everything going on in the sport of women's lacrosse, soaking up some of that warm Florida sun, and enjoying a great weekend of recruiting to top it all off!

It's hard to believe that summer is now in the rear view mirror and the holiday season is just around the corner, but what a great time of year this is! Before we know it, we will be ringing in 2013 -- the year of the arrival of TEAM ONE! For now, it's all about enjoying the process.

GO BLUE!

Coach Valore

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: Looking Forward to Team One

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It's a great day to be a Michigan Wolverine ...

I am exhausted, oops, I mean excited to update all of you Wolverine fans on the status of our first recruiting class set to arrive on campus next fall 2013 and compete for the Maize and Blue in the spring of 2014.

TEAM ONE consists of 28 individuals from 10 different states. I am especially proud of the diverse personalities, which mirror the many states we have represented from the East Coast to the West Coast. We worked hard compiling this group of individuals based equally on character and discipline, as well as athletic ability. Michigan values the meaning of the student-athlete and celebrates one's differences.

This is how the states break down: one from California, one from Connecticut, two from Illinois, three from Massachusetts, five from Maryland, three from Michigan, three from New Jersey, five from New York, four from Pennsylvania, and one from Texas.

If you needed a breath while reading that list then you just experienced how I would sum up my first year at the University of Michigan -- breathtaking!

These individuals will gather in Ann Arbor 11 months from now, when we will stand together for the first time as the Michigan women's lacrosse team, to begin our journey together. Bound by pride, character and determination, we will strive to be the best in every way. Perhaps then and only then, I will catch my breath.

Stay tuned ...

GO BLUE!

Coach Ulehla

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: A New Year of Firsts

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Fall has arrived at Michigan and the excitement on campus that only the waning summer warmth can bring is all around! Ann Arbor is buzzing with students, the streets have been transformed into an ever-flowing sea of maize & blue, and athletics are in full swing once again. It's impossible not to feel the energy that radiates from Michigan this time of year as the new season brings a new year of beginnings, a new year of challenges, a new year of successes and, of course, a new year of amazing experiences!

For women's lacrosse, the fall brings a new year of firsts -- the first two players of our 2013-14 team have arrived on campus, the first workouts and practices are upon us, the first official visits to Michigan will be taken, the first National Letter of Intent signing day will be held in November, and the first full women's lacrosse class (2013) will be announced. Of course, these are a just a few of the many new firsts we will encounter as we embark on the final year of preparation before the official debut of the inaugural University of Michigan women's lacrosse team. The journey continues and the road ahead leads to a new escalating sense of excitement!

Can you feel it? Just as it's hard to ignore the flood of optimism and hope that envelops campus this time of year, it's equally difficult not to notice the enthusiastic anticipation surrounding the upcoming addition of women's lacrosse to U-M's athletic lineup. This time next year our complete team will be in place and we will be off and running, encountering a new first each step of the way as we write chapter one of Team One in our very own history book.

This year will be a special one for Michigan women's lacrosse and I can't wait to share it with you through this blog! You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for a closer look at the women's lacrosse program each step of the way. I wish you a wonderful fall and GO BLUE!

Coach Valore

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: On the Road Again

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Whew. Where do I start? It's been quite a couple of months on the recruiting trail. My initial plan was to blog about the two trips I embarked on following California before heading out for a two-week visit of the Northeast. However, each time I sat down to update everyone on my recent travels, something came up and it wasn't until today (when I scheduled a good 30 consecutive minutes in my day) that I was able to finally sit down and write about all the exciting things that I've experienced in the last month on the road. I have been waiting patiently for the opportunity to share all the excitement with you!

After California, my recruiting travels took me to Texas, where I was able to watch some of the best teams in the state play while I was there. I enjoyed getting to know some of the high school coaches, and much like I felt in California, I was excited about the tremendous growth of the sport and the level of talent down there! The trip to Texas was extra fun and special for me because while I was there I was able to catch up with one of my best friends from college and her beautiful family who now live in Houston. Of course, she and I couldn't help but reminisce about all the good times we had playing lacrosse together!

Shortly after returning from Texas, I hopped on another plane, this time headed for Florida. While in Florida, I was able to see a number of top teams, many of them ranked nationally, as teams from near and far traveled south in search of some sun and warm temperatures during their spring break. I have to admit that I too enjoyed the 80-degree temperatures and even managed to fit in a quick trip to the beach after one morning of lacrosse! Much like my trips to California and Texas, while in Florida I was not only able to watch some very talented lacrosse players out on the field, but I also had the opportunity to meet with some very talented high school coaches, connect with them about their programs, and talk to them about our growing program here at Michigan! I really enjoy being able to get out there and let people know about all the great things going on with our program!

Most recently my recruiting travels brought me to the Northeast -- specifically, Connecticut, New York & Long Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Being a New Jersey native, I was looking forward to a trip home to visit some of the area's best high schools for lacrosse, as well as visit with family and friends. It was a long time out on the road but very productive! During this trip I was able to watch some of our future Wolverines in action playing with their high school teams. It was great fun and got me even more excited for when our players step foot on campus and out onto the field next fall!

With a good couple of weeks in the office, it's now time to hit the road again! Tomorrow morning I'm off once more to the Pa./N.J. area before heading to Maryland and eventually making my way up to Long Island for the 2012 Final Four and national tournament over Memorial Day weekend. Can't wait to check in after my trip and tell you all about my latest recruiting adventures!

GO BLUE!

Coach Valore

Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog: Spring Has Sprung

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Spring is here and that means ... happy recruiting trails for me. My first stop before a long recruiting trip was a day trip to Grand Rapids, Mich. I was ready to get started. When I arrived at the facility just two hours northwest of Ann Arbor, I was excited to be in the state of Michigan recruiting for the University of Michigan. There was a sense of pride I felt while watching these two high school teams compete against each other. They were enjoying the true essence of the sport I hold so dear to my heart. I am happy to say that the spirit of lacrosse is in Michigan and only growing stronger. At halftime, I looked over to an adjacent field and got a thrill out of watching a team of local youth boys attempting to comprehend what their coaches (most likely parents) were saying as they tried to implement an offensive motion. These boys were tiny and couldn't have been older than 7. I love to see kids of all ages experiencing the joy that lacrosse offers. Hail to Michigan.

Next stop was the great state of Illinois in the suburbs of Chicago. As I drove past the city on my way to the high school, I was taken by the majestic beauty of the Chicago skyline. My day was filled with great lacrosse on what turned out to be a beautiful but chilly, windy day. The chill in the air was okay for me, because I got to sport all of my great Michigan adidas gear! Thank you Dave and Alec for taking care of me! BUT, I was texting with Jen who just happened to be in sunny warm Florida recruiting wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Hmmm, something is wrong with this picture. In the end, I experienced some competitive lacrosse and excellent athletes. Great job, Illinois. I was very impressed. These girls got game!

I woke up the next morning in the Iron City of Pittsburgh, Pa. I forgot what it felt like to drive on small, crowded roads. Over the hills and through the woods ... how do they get around when it snows?? I watched two teams battle it out on the field on a gorgeous evening. Is it me or are young girls getting quicker and faster? The competitive spirit is alive and well in western PA. That night, I enjoyed the city of Pittsburgh and an elaborate Italian meal ... so delicious. I was shocked by the cleanliness of the city, but where was everyone? It seemed like a ghost town. They must have gotten word that JENNYU was in town! The skyline was incredible with the river flowing freely below it. Kudos Pittsburgh!

New York, N.Y., here I come.

Oh, how I had missed the traffic, accent and classic NY road rage. Why do they keep honking at me?? I enjoyed two days in the madness watching some great lacrosse. Without a doubt NY develops some incredibly talented lacrosse players. I can't wait to go back and see more.

After a quick but wonderful night stay in Wilton, Conn., with my brother Tony and his family, I traveled up north to Albany. Three hours in the car and I found myself sitting at a high school field waiting to watch another two high school teams battle it out. This day I wish I had more Michigan gear; it was cold ... brrrrr! These two teams were quick, athletic and competitive. Girls lacrosse is alive and well in upstate NY. It was a very memorable way to end my trip.

On my flight back to Detroit, I reflected a bit. I love representing Michigan Lacrosse and can't wait to coach the young women who have made a commitment to join this fabulous journey of building our lacrosse program. There are many talented lacrosse players all over the country. I am so happy to have the opportunity to spend this spring traveling the states looking for those student-athletes that stand out among the rest as not only great players but also leaders in every way. It's an honor and privilege to wear the Blue and Maize.

Until next time, GO BLUE!

Coach U

Inside Michigan: Women's Lacrosse Coaches Blog

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It's March and in the lacrosse world that signals the start of the high school season. Without a team to coach this spring, we are getting a jump-start on the summer recruiting circuit and hitting the road in the search of the next future Wolverine for the Michigan women's lacrosse program!

The opportunity to get out and see high school games is not only a great chance to begin to scout players from all over the country, but it's also a great way to initiate connections between our coaching staff and high school coaches while continuing to spread the enthusiasm and excitement surrounding our inaugural women's lacrosse program at Michigan.

First stop on my recruiting calendar was California. The sport of lacrosse has grown tremendously over the past several years in California and it is continuing to develop at a pretty rapid pace. It was great to see and experience the excitement surrounding the sport in the state first-hand, and despite the "stormy" weather they experienced while I was out there, I was able to catch some great lacrosse. (Who would have thought that I would encounter below 60 degree temperatures, rain and wind in California while Ann Arbor was sunny, warm and in the mid-70s in March?!) While it was cold and at times quite wet, my experience in California was a good one.

Only three days to rest up in Ann Arbor until my next trip to Texas. Much like California, Texas has seen tremendous recent growth in the sport of lacrosse, and there are some fantastic players coming out of that state. I am looking forward to getting out there and watching some very talented high school lacrosse ... and hopefully doing so in warmer and drier weather conditions than I experienced in California!

GO BLUE!
JV