An Independent School • Grades 5-12
Embrace the challenge
Embrace the challenge

by Chris Hartley, director of athletics

I am coaching again! With our boys lacrosse program head making a late-breaking decision to pursue a professional opportunity, I decided to step up and coach Lakeside's boys varsity lacrosse team this spring. In many ways, it's a return to my roots: I coached lacrosse from 1992 to 2015, at Lakeside and four prior schools.

Since deciding to take on this role, I have experienced several different emotions. The dominant feeling is excitement: I cannot wait to get back out on the field. I love teaching, coaching, and playing lacrosse. I have also felt anxious. While I have only been away from coaching for a few years, I know I will be a bit rusty. And I am stepping into a team that was expecting a different coach. Even though I'll strive to keep things consistent from previous years, students will experience a different style.

This is an experience that will challenge me. And I'm embracing that challenge – because every day, I ask our coaches and our student-athletes to challenge themselves. When we rise to a challenge, we have an opportunity to grow and learn.

For coaches – including myself! – embracing the challenge means being agile: researching best practices, including new approaches, drills, and strategies; connecting with peers and colleagues to create a support system; and being intentional about everything we do. It also means seeking to understand and support each individual student on the team, as an athlete and as a Lakeside student. I ask this of every coach at Lakeside, and I look forward to modeling it. Our students deserve nothing less.

Students are also asked to embrace challenge. Their coaches expect them to get better every day. There is the physical challenge of getting in the best shape possible in order to compete at a high level; the coordination challenge to improve sport-specific skills, which means making mistakes and learning from them during practices; and the challenge of building trusting relationships so that teams are high functioning. None of these challenges are easy. Meeting them takes dedication, perseverance, and a desire to put the team first. But I believe that embracing and overcoming these challenges helps create mindsets that lead to success well beyond Lakeside.

While I am excited to create a great experience for the boys in lacrosse, I'm aware it will prevent me from being a presence at other spring sports' practices and competitions. I am saddened by this. My favorite part of being director of athletics is watching and supporting our athletes and coaches at work – whether through providing guidance and feedback or simply cheering on the teams.

I was able to commit to coaching this spring because of the incredible staff of Lakeside Athletics. Assistant Director of Athletics Bird Newland will represent Lakeside Athletics at away competitions and will observe practices on- and off-campus, providing feedback to our coaches. Assistant Director of Athletics Mike Lengel will continue to oversee the Middle School athletics program, as well as create infographics and video. He will also be a bigger presence for Upper School teams; you will likely see him at lots of competitions. Our intern Madison Farley, who is working on a master's in athletic leadership from University of Washington, will manage all home events and be present for competitions.

I wish all of the spring teams a great season! And I look forward to sharing the experiences of practicing in cold rain, celebrating wins and success, and finding ways to move through defeat. We will all be embracing the challenge.

Go Lions!

Chris Hartley is Lakeside's director of athletics. You can reach him at and 206-440-2754.