Coaches regularly pull players aside in games or practices to discuss any number of matters, from expectations to clarifying roles or how to fix a mistake.
New Albany girls lacrosse coach Elaina Enich recalled how sophomore attacker Katie Kaucheck reversed roles with the coaching staff during a discussion of offensive plays in a preseason meeting, seeking to both understand her role better and remind them she could do more than was being asked.
“There was a conversation where she pulled us aside as coaches and said ‘hey, I understand that this is one of the positions I played in the past, but I want to play everywhere and make an impact on both ends of the field. Don’t restrict me,’ ” Enich said, chuckling. “She is one of those kids who is always looking to do more in whatever capacity. It makes us as coaches really try to develop the whole athlete and do things we might not have originally expected.
“We’re not going to handcuff her by any means.”
Kaucheck, who started most of her freshman year – scoring 20 goals and helping the Eagles to their second consecutive Division I state runner-up finish – simply was eager to help the team however she could before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the season.
“I was letting them know that if they needed me on defense, if someone was tired or if one of the midfielders was tired, I was more than willing to go over and switch positions with them to give them a break,” said Kaucheck, who plays midfielder in the Resolute club program. “If they needed me on the draw circle, I was more than willing to do that. I definitely embrace that; it’s nice to be able to play all three positions and get the feel for everything.”
Kaucheck held her own in the preseason last year but did not expect to start. She got her break early in the season during a spring break trip to Atlanta when an older starter fell ill and Kaucheck was called on to fill her role.
Enich, who helped New Albany to the 2013 Division II state championship, went on to play at Cincinnati and was an assistant coach with the Eagles the past two seasons under Dave Ferguson, was not surprised.
“You know who is coming up (through the program) and she was always a name who was tossed around,” Enich said. “It was apparent on the first day that she was going to be a huge impact and asset to the team. The kid never stops, whether it’s going from sport to sport or in practice. You just watch her and it’s effortless, anything she does, whether it’s a run or going through our drills. She is always one of our hardest-working kids on the field.”
Kaucheck was second-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division and honorable mention all-Region 1 last year on the heels of a solid basketball season in which she averaged 7.5 points, shot 45.2 percent from 3-point range and was named second-team all-OCC-Capital.
This winter, she tied for the team lead in points per game (7.6) and led the Eagles in rebounds (4.4) to earn second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Kaucheck expected nothing less than another deep postseason run in lacrosse, potentially including a third consecutive state championship meeting with Upper Arlington. The Eagles went 19-4 last year and lost to the Golden Bears 12-10 in the final, UA’s fifth state title in a row.
“We were a young team but we’d have brought something new to the program and had some extra motivation to go after a state championship based off what happened last year,” Kaucheck said. “We all were motivated to keep working and push everyone and just get better together.”