South Charlotte

Coach wants to give girls a taste of her success

In 2008, Sasha Vedock was a senior all-state player for the Apex girls' lacrosse team, leading the Cougars to their second-straight state championship.

This season, Vedock again stepped onto the field with Apex in a state-championship girls' lacrosse game - but this time on the opposite side of the field.

Three years after leading the Cougars to a state title as a player, Vedock took Myers Park (15-4) to its first state title in just her second year of coaching. The Mustangs lost 24-3 on May 14 at Cary's WakeMed Soccer Park, but Vedock said it was more important Myers Park got to the title game.

"It was a great experience and I want Myers Park to have that experience," said Vedock, now a junior at UNC Charlotte.

Vedock, 22, grew up playing lacrosse in New York, but her family moved to the Raleigh area before her freshman year of high school. She played her first two years at Cary Green Hope, winning state titles both years. For her junior year, she moved to Apex, where she won two more titles.

The Raleigh area traditionally has had stronger high school lacrosse programs because of northern transplant coaches and players, said Vedock. She's trying to bring Myers Park's talent level even with the eastern teams.

"We're catching up, but we're not catching up fast enough," she said. Last year, Charlotte teams won the girls' (Charlotte Catholic) and boys' (Myers Park) championships, the first time the sport was sanctioned by the N.C. High School Athletic Association.

Vedock said last year's team was a mix of players who wanted to win and some who just wanted to play. She wanted to make them more aggressive and motivated to win. Myers Park made it to the quarterfinals last year before losing to Charlotte Catholic.

"The team goal this year was to go farther in the playoffs than we had before," said Vedock. "The fact they were able to push themselves to get to that goal and go beyond was huge."

Vedock was a tough, aggressive player, and she's the same kind of coach.

"As a player, I was always really hard on myself," she said. "I was the type of player that wanted a coach to kick my butt.

"If I believe that you are able to overcome this obstacle, I'm going to push you and push you and push you until you do," she said.

Haley Ellis, on the team since her freshman year, said Vedock is a tough coach but has pushed the team to get better.

"She's hardcore. She will run you into the ground," said Ellis, 18, a senior attacker. "If you can get past that and really listen to what she says, she knows what she's talking about."

Being close in age to the girls on the team, Vedock also can connect with the team off the field, said junior defender Mary Carlisle Crehore.

Vedock had the Mustangs play Apex earlier in the year - a 17-9 loss - so they could get used to tougher competition. The rivalry has turned into a respectful one, if not friendly, said Crehore.

Vedock played with many of the seniors on this year's Apex team when they were freshman. She also played against Apex coach Jennifer Flaherty when she was at Raleigh Athens Drive.

Apex is "just a good team, but unfortunately we don't have that competition here in the west," said Vedock. "I knew they were good and that's why I wanted Myers Park to play them."

The Apex fans remember Vedock and respect what she's doing at Myers Park. After the championship game, they gave Vedock an ovation.

Vedock wanted Myers Park to play in the championship so they could experience what it felt like.

"It was hard for me to make them understand how great of an experience it is," she said.

Now the Mustangs do. "For me, it was a really big honor to represent Myers Park there," said Crehore. "I have so much (motivation) now. ... I really, really want to go back again next year."

Ellis thinks more girls will be interested in playing lacrosse at Myers Park after this year. She also thinks players will be more interested in playing year-round to get better, something Vedock is pushing for.

In addition to going to school full time and coaching at Myers Park, Vedock also coaches the Queens Grant middle school lacrosse team. She says the key to her full schedule is time management.

"It's a balance," she said. "I enjoy it. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't."

Vedock is a history major and hopes to get into a graduate program at UNCC. That way, she said, she can continue to coach the girls, take the team to a few more state championships and possibly bring the first state title to Myers Park.