NEWBERG, Ore. – Natalie Harrington, a former women's lacrosse high school All-American and star player at NCAA Division I Fresno State University, has been named as the head coach for the new women's lacrosse program at George Fox University, which will play its first season in the spring of 2014 as the school's 16th intercollegiate sport.
Harrington hails from Oregon City, Ore., where she played for four years under coach Dara Kramer at Oregon City High School. In leading the team to the Oregon 6A state championship in 2009, she was named the title game's Most Valuable Player, and was later a candidate for the Oregon Sports Award's Johnny Carpenter High School Athlete of the Year.
At Fresno State, Harrington was a two-time team captain while playing at various times as an attacker, midfielder, and defender. She was named the Bulldogs' Player of the Year as a junior and Attacker of the Year as a senior. Graduating this past May, she earned her bachelor of arts degree in Communications.
Harrington served at numerous lacrosse clinics for Fresno State working with elementary, middle, and high school girls, as well as at various lacrosse camps and activities around the Central Valley of California. She was also active in the community, working as a member of the "Big Heroes, Little Heroes" mentoring program and interacting with patients at sporting events sponsored by the Central California Children's Hospital.
In the summer a year ago, Harrington taught at the Lacrosse Northwest camp in Oregon, and directed the Clackamas Lacrosse Youth Camp for girls in June. In July 2012, she taught at both the Stanford University High School Camp and the Stanford Elite Camp for advanced high school players and Division I prospects.
George Fox will be the fourth member of the Northwest Conference, an NCAA Division III league, to sponsor intercollegiate lacrosse, joining Linfield College, Pacific University of Oregon, and the University of Puget Sound. There is no official NWC champion in lacrosse because a minimum of seven teams is required for a conference championship.
Harrington anticipates about 15-17 players for fall practices and the spring season, adding that "I won't have a lot of time to recruit for this first year, coming in so late, but the ones we know of who have indicated an interest in playing all have lacrosse experience, so we'll be better than some might expect this first year. I'm used to new programs, though; I was in the first recruiting class ever at Fresno State."
With this being her first team coaching experience, Harrington admits that she will draw on the various styles of coaches for whom she has played and with whom she has worked to develop her own brand.
"I have learned a lot from every coach with whom I have ever been associated," Harrington admits. "My former coaches from the East Coast really gave me a perspective on lacrosse and how it is played, people like Carlee Buck from Limestone College and Lauren Schmidt from the University of California and all my coaches at Fresno State. The 'East Coast' style is a more aggressive, physical style of play, and I want those of us out here learn to play that way. Amy Bokker at the Stanford camps and with the Women's National USA Team helped me get my foot in the door. And Coach Kramer, of course, has been an amazing mentor throughout the years."
Kramer says of Harrington, "We always hear about ways coaches inspire their players, but every once in a while, a coach is lucky enough to find inspiration from a special player. Natalie was one of those players for me. She jumped right onto varsity as a freshman and never looked back, becoming our leading scorer, captain, First Team All-State, and state championship MVP along the way. Most importantly, she continually motivated everyone around her to step up and give more than they thought they could give in every practice and every game. She just has this fire in her that is so evident and so contagious. She's genuine, passionate, loyal, and so much fun to be around.
"Natalie has been coaching at our youth camp since she was a sophomore in high school, and she's just a natural. She knows how to break things down and get right on the level where her players need to learn. I think she will be a perfect fit for George Fox; she knows exactly what it's like to be a part of a fledgling college program. She is going to be a phenomenal coach, and Fox lacrosse will be off to a great start with her at the helm."
Echoing those words, Taylor says of the university's newest coach, "Natalie's energy, enthusiasm, and lacrosse mentality make her a perfect fit for a startup program like ours. Her lacrosse credentials are impeccable, having come from one of the best high school programs in the state and then going on to a stellar career at a major college. We believe she will be a strong ambassador for George Fox lacrosse around the state, the conference, and throughout Division III."
Harrington is a published author of the children's fantasy books, "Griffin's Calling" and "Griffin's Temptation", both released under the pen name of N.R. Rose by Tate Publishing. Her third book, "Griffin's Legacy", is due out in August 2013.
George Fox University, Oregon's nationally recognized Christian university, currently sponsors 15 varsity sports and will soon be adding two more. The Bruins compete in soccer, cross country, basketball, track and field, tennis and golf for both men and women, baseball for men, and softball and volleyball for women. Women's lacrosse will debut in the spring of 2014, followed by the return of football in the fall of 2014 for the first time since 1968.