Julie Myers: Walk softly, carry a big (lacrosse) stick
The pink Lacoste shirt, shorts, and kicky pink flip-flops somehow don't seem to square with the fact that Julie Myers is a jock– and a wunderkind in women's lacrosse.
Myers became head coach at UVA in 1995 at age 26. "I didn't know I was going to end up head coach so quickly," she says. "At every step, I was in the right place at the right time."
Sitting in her third-floor office in the McCue Center, with its mesmerizing view of cranes at work on the basketball arena across the street, Myers has hardly had time to bask in the afterglow of kicking Princeton's Ivy derrière to win the NCAA lacrosse championship last month.
The national victory is especially sweet because the Cavs lost to Princeton not only earlier this year but also in last year's title game. Myers, pregnant then, wondered if she could have one celebratory beer, but when UVA lost, that was no longer an issue. This year, the champagne could flow.
It wasn't Myers' first NCAA title. She already had two– as a player and as an assistant coach. And she sits in the top 10 of all-time winning lacrosse coaches.
Before Myers came to UVA as an undergrad, she played both lacrosse and that other skirt-wearing sport, field hockey, in her native Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. "I grew up in sports," says this third of seven children.
The downside to being coach is that she can't just hop into a pick-up game because her players, she claims, play much better than she ever did. "To maintain credibility," she says, "I don't scrimmage with them."
When not coaching the champs, she's into being a mom, trying to leave early during the summer to spend time with her three year old and 11 month old and "act like a normal person."
For a person who clearly loves her job, Myers admits there's very little down time. She's barely through winning the title before it's time to go recruit players, coach summer camps– and then it's fall again. "It never really stops," she says.
And Myers won't be able to rest on her laurels. Athletic director Craig Littlepage wants UVA to haul in 70 ACC titles and 12 NCAA titles over the next 10 years. "I think that's within reason," says Myers. "We got six this year."
Besides, "I don't look at it as pressure as much as desire," says the ever-competitive Myers.
The lacrosse un-savvy may want to know, what's with those little skirts? They're called kilts, Myers explains, and yes, the players' wear tights– shorts– under them so that their underpants are not exposed. "You really don't know anything about lacrosse, do you?" Myers asks a visitor.
Lacrosse may have the image of an elitist sport, but Myers says it's more a middle class one: Most of her players have a stay-at-home parent, and only three have divorced parents.
So any shootings or shoplifting among her players? She laughs. "It's a pretty clean sport."
What brought you here? I wanted to go to UVA since I can remember. I was offered a small grant in aid to come to UVA to get my education and to play field hockey and lacrosse.
What's worst about living here? 29 North
Favorite hangout? UVA stadiums on game day... any sport, any season
Most overrated virtue? Being thrifty. I'm a spender through and through.
What would people be surprised to know about you? I don't fear bugs, rodents, or snakes.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I could allow myself more time to relax and enjoy quality time with my family and friends. I spread myself too thin and am constantly on the move.
What accomplishment are you proudest of? My affiliation with a successful lacrosse program and athletic department at a great university.
What do people find most annoying about you? My inability to sit still. My need for cleanliness and order. My Pollyanna attitude.
Whom do you admire? Jane Miller– a great mentor and role model; Larry Brown– able to create success everywhere, and John Wooden– personal philosophy and expectations of success.
Favorite book? Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose - Dr. Seuss
What subject causes you to rant? Fair weather fans. I think you should stick with your team through thick or thin and find ways to support and encourage.
What thrills you about life in the 21st century? Ability to stay connected no matter where you are. Speed at which you can do so many things.
What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? The idea that I can be Googled.
What do you drive? [Mercedes-Benz] E320 wagon
What's in your car CD player right now? Team mix of hip hop...Jay Z, Biggie, etc.
What's your next journey? 29 North. Professionally– to repeat in 2005. Personally– watching my kids grow up.
What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? Sneaking out of my house late night to see my high school boyfriend only to get back to the house with the alarm set, and no way in without waking up my parents.
What do you regret? Not setting a bedtime for my three-year-old daughter. She's a night owl.
Favorite comfort food? Milk Duds
What's always in your refrigerator? Classic Coke and cream for my coffee
Must-see TV? Sports Center
Favorite cartoon? Disney's Mulan
Describe a perfect day. A flat, windless morning run on a clear day down in Duck, North Carolina. My kids sleep until 7am. After coffee, the family heads to the beach and spends the day building sand castles, taking walks, and playing in the waves. We finish our day poolside, take an outside shower, and head to the Blue Point Restaurant for dinner and drinks.
Walter Mitty fantasy? Winning an Olympic gold medal, and standing on the podium with my teammates as our national anthem plays
Who'd play you in the movie? Mariel Hemingway– she has long arms, and my husband likes her.
Most embarrassing moment? I was coaching at a clinic in Atlanta and staying in a UVA alumnus' basement apartment. About midnight, the toilet overflowed. I mean really overflowed. By the time I got out of the shower, the bathroom floor was completely flooded and water was quickly leaking into the bedroom. I had to shut off the water and grab really nice towels to clean it all up. It was a huge mess. The next morning I had to wash all six towels and ask for a plunger. Mortifying.
Best advice you ever got? Work hard and see things through to the end...however long that may be.
Favorite bumper sticker? Virginia Women's Lacrosse 2004 NCAA Champions. They should be made soon!
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO