WD3 Notes: Bates' Hot Start Fueled by Husband-Wife Duo
When Bates then-recruit Moriah Greenstein walked into coach Brett Allen's office for the first time, she noticed a photo of Allen, his wife and their newborn child on his desk.
She didn't think much of it — until Allen went into further detail.
"He explained that he and his wife just had a baby, and his wife actually was the assistant coach at the time," said Greenstein, now a senior. "It gave them a little twist than everyone else."
After playing and coaching at Middlebury for six seasons, Heidi Allen joined her husband in 2009 to help coach the Bobcats. Failing to break even without a winning record in the past four seasons, the Allens have flipped the script, leading No. 10 Bates to a 6-0 record to start 2016, including an 8-7 upset over perennial power Amherst, a team that has made 11 NCAA tournament appearances and 15 NESCAC tournament berths.
They aren't the only husband-wife coaching tandem in college lacrosse, but the concept is still unique to many friends and family, who always ask what they do for their careers.
"'I coach the women's lacrosse team at Bates," Heidi Allen's response would be, which prompts a follow up question about her husband's profession. "He's the head coach of the women's lacrosse team at Bates.' They immediately are shocked and say, 'Wow, how does that work?'"
Prior to then-Heidi Howard's transition to Bates, she and Brett Allen were rivals as their teams competed against each other in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
It wasn't until the summer of 2008 that the two connected at Elite 180, a camp organized by Division III coaches across New England. Heidi Allen credits legendary Middlebury coach Missy Foote for hiring her as an assistant and starting the chain reaction that led her to meeting her future husband. Heidi and Brett Allen, one of the only male coaches at the camp, immediately hit it off, and in just four short months, they were engaged.
"We kind of knew," Brett Allen said. "Being that we were both busy during the year – she was at Middlebury and I was at Bates – and we were both in our early 30s, we knew what we were looking for."
After the engagement, Heidi Allen departed Vermont to become a volunteer coach for her husband while working full-time at the Maine college. There were married in December 2009, and after the birth of their first child, Brooks, in 2011, Brett promoted his wife to associate head coach.
"Obviously, we're in the same profession, but I don't want to take his job," Heidi Alled joked. "To me, if I'm putting in the work, associate head coach just made sense. Right, Brett?"
"Yes, that's absolutely right," he said.
Now, Brett Allen sees his wife as a co-head coach, rather than an associate, because coaching with her gives him an upper hand when it comes to communication.
"We both know each other so well that I can help her ... and she helps me," he said. "Any coaching staff does that, but because we're married, I feel like we know ourselves better."
Since 2009, Bates has put together a 29-32 record and qualified for six NESCAC tournaments. With teams like Amherst, Middlebury and Trinity on the schedule each year, the Bobcats have had their hands full.
However, the 2016 season has proved to be different for unbeaten Bates. Greenstein, who leads the Bobcats with 16 goals and 11 assists, said the win over Amherst was a statement that Bates has arrived. The Purple and White now sit one spot behind Bates in the Nike/Lacrosse Magazine Top 20.
"That was my first time beating Amherst, but I think it was really exciting for all of us," Greenstein said. "Every team is different every year, which is probably what people are saying about us, but we're just excited to be competing with them and that we were able to come out with a win."
The Bobcats are also led by 2015 IWLCA first-team All-American and four-year starting goalie Hannah Jeffrey, who currently ranks third in Division III with a 65.2 save percentage. Jeffrey knows that to continue their success, they must build momentum off their upset victory.
"The most important thing is consistency," Jeffrey said. "We're definitely in a position to do that, but every game is a new game and every team is a new team. If we just play consistent and play our game, we will hopefully be successful."
While their coaches are married, Greenstein and Jeffrey barely notice. When the whistle blows, Heidi Allen feels the same way. However, even she can't ignore how special it is to be coaching with her husband.
"We rarely show affection on the field, but that moment, let's say a big win, I look at him and hug him and I say, 'Wow, we did this together," she said. "There's no one I'd rather be doing this with.'"
Salisbury got the best of Trinity on Tuesday in a rematch of the Division III title games from 2012-14. (Risley Sports Photography)
Salisbury Tops Trinity
In a rematch of the NCAA championship games from 2012-14, the Sea Gulls downed Trinity 9-6 in Clermont, Fla., on Tuesday. Ariana Maxwell scored a team-high five goals to boost Salisbury to a key non-conference win.
The Sea Gulls pushed its lead to 8-2 with less than 24 minutes remaining, but the Bantoms rallied to cut the deficit to three with goals by Allie Barrett, Kiley Coffey and Clare Lyne. Maxwell responded with the final goal of the game despite a last-minute tally by Trinity's Emma Malicki.
Gettysburg Still Unbeaten
Gettysburg quietly remains undefeated after sweeping No. 7 Salisbury 10-8 and a quality Washington and Lee team 10-3. The Bullets have now beaten two ranked teams this season, with its first coming against then-No. 14 Messiah on Feb. 20, and one squad that received votes this week (Montclair State).
Katie Landry led the way with a combined team-high five points against the Sea Gulls and the Generals. Another test awaits Saturday, as the Bullets will travel to face No. 6 TCNJ. With a win, they might move even closer to Division III's elite.
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