Coach spotlight: Stephanie Mark, women’s lacrosse

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Stephanie Mark excels in her role as head coach to the Occidental women’s lacrosse team, serving as an inspiration to her athletes. Mark holds a record-setting amount of wins with the program and, since coming to Occidental four years ago, the team has made it as far as the semifinals in the SCIAC tournament each season. Through Mark’s program development based on accountability, resilience and dedication, combined with her continued guidance, the women’s lacrosse team is positioned for a successful season. Due to her record and the support and guidance she offers her athletes, The Weekly is spotlighting Mark as part of our series celebrating women coaches at Occidental.

The New Jersey native brings a plethora of lacrosse experience with her to the position; she was a four-year starting midfielder at Johns Hopkins and was voted “Unsung Hero” by her teammates. She led her team to three NCAA tournament appearances with a semifinals appearance in her final season.

In addition to personal experience, the dedication Mark shows her players each year encourages them to return to lacrosse with enthusiasm. She has not shied away from the task of coaching 20 athletes. She empowers her athletes by constructing a network of support and inclusivity.

“I think a coach’s job is to play a positive role in [their] transition from college to the real world, and really let them see that a lot of the life lessons you learn from being in a lacrosse program really transfer to real life,” Mark said.

She is unique and an exceptional presence in the lives of her players both on and off the field, according to team captain Rebecca Reese (senior).

Mark hopes to instill a sense of confidence in her athletes and a resilient mentality that can be applied both to lacrosse and career aspirations. She has observed the development of this sense of fortitude and self-assurance in her athletes throughout her years as head coach.

“Over the four years of college we see our athletes develop accountability, a willingness to speak up, self-confidence among peers and dedication to see things through,” Mark said.

Former team member Brita Loeb ’16 spoke on Mark’s supportive coaching style.

“Coach Steph has always been a fearless leader; a female role model who embodies strength, intelligence and perseverance,” Loeb said. “Through thoughtful leadership, Steph inspires her team to play with grit, achieve selfless goals and encourage one another to do their best. She fosters a team culture built on mutual respect, which in turn, empowers players to succeed.”

Mark’s dedication to the team has not gone unnoticed. Loeb spoke on Mark’s commitment to her as a person and student, and how this resulted in her feeling valued as more than an athlete. Mark continuously checks in on team members, asking questions about their friends, family and classes. Team member Georgia Arnold (sophomore) expressed her deep appreciation for Mark.

“She puts us before anything else, which is in itself empowering,” Arnold said. “She really encourages us to grow on and off the field, and always wants academics to come first and stresses that a lot. Overall, she’s just one hell of lady.”

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