Merritt Island (Fla.) Coaches Partners in (Fighting) Crime
|Merritt Island (Fla.) High girls' lacrosse coach Lisa Connors (right) and assistant Kate Pill are crime scene investigators for Brevard County.|
There is always a clue. Your fingerprints on your mouse or laptop are all Lisa Connors and Kate Pill need.
Best friends and crime scene investigators for the Brevard County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office, Connors and Pill continue to grow the game. They spearheaded the creation of the club women's team at West Virginia as students, and then led the move from club to FHSAA status for Merritt Island (Fla.) High, which this spring completed its first season of varsity competition.
Did you always know you wanted to do crime scene investigation?
KP: I always loved science, but I really liked the law side of things. Once I knew I could follow both of those interests, I just knew this is what I wanted to do. West Virginia has a great program on the hands-on aspects: photography, collecting evidence, documenting evidence. It was a perfect fit for me.
What do you like about CSI?
LC: You never know what it is that you have to work with, and you never know what you're going to get called to. I don't like monotony, so I wouldn't like going into an office and doing the same thing every day.
Does the team know about your day job?
KP: We're on call, so we'll show up in our work vehicles on occasion. They definitely think it's cool. They think we have the best job in the world.
How realistic are the TV shows?
LC: The basics are somewhat the same, but if you took anyone's day-to-day job and condensed it into an hour, it wouldn't be very close. We can't solve a crime in an hour, though I wish we could. And you definitely don't see a lot of the paperwork on TV.
KP: Some of the science in them is not untrue, and some of the facts are not untrue. But they definitely dramatize it. We don't have a screen that goes "match, match, match." And I don't drive a Hummer.
Ever think about doing CSI on TV?
KP: I'll leave the acting up to them. I'd rather do the real stuff. They tend to catch us in the news, but that's as far as I think I'll go.
When did you start playing lacrosse?
KP: When I was younger, my brother had been playing for years. There was a boys' youth program in Allentown, Pa., where I grew up, so I had been around the sport. But I was on the first team at my high school, starting in my sophomore year. So I was a part of that program's development as a player. When I went to West Virginia, I would have loved to continue playing. But they didn't have a team, even though West Virginia is right between Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey — all the traditional lacrosse hotbeds. So there were a ton of girls there who wanted to play, but they didn't have anywhere to play. They didn't have an outlet.
How did you start the club team at West Virginia?
LC: When West Virginia didn't have lacrosse, I decided to join the rowing team. I did that for two years, and it was fun, but it wasn't what I was looking for. A couple of us started talking on Facebook within a school group. We eventually got together to play on the side, and then we decided to start a team. We had a core group of five or six of us that really put the whole team together. We wrote up the paperwork and got everything going. It was a battle. That was a miserable process. For a bunch of college kids to figure out what paperwork you need — it's a nonprofit, but you still have to have a bank account and an address — it was really challenging. But we pieced it all together.
And you were able to do the same thing at Merritt Island?
KP: We knew would be able to pull it off if we were persistent enough. In high school, you don't know about all the political battles, or dealing with the school and working with them on the logistics. This year all the schools in Brevard County had a battle. We were mostly club teams, and then they passed a ruling that you couldn't be a club team associated with the school. Everyone got left out with no other teams to play. So we had to petition the school board to become FHSAA-certified. With the current economic times, the school board was leery, because they didn't want to support something they couldn't help fund. We had to prove to them that we could be completely self-funded.
How tough was that?
LC: It was a very long, hard-fought process. I've never been to so many school board meetings in my life, especially for not having kids. We were doing fundraisers. We were putting flyers out. We were doing anything and everything to make them realize that they were going to take something positive away from these kids that want to play the sport they love. We did odd jobs, car washes, cookie dough, whatever sales possible to help lower the costs. They hired us as coaches, but we declined pay. This isn't about the money.
A version of this article appears in the August issue of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 400,000-plus members today to start your subscription.