Q & A With Coach: Heather Semelmacher - Women's Lacrosse

Heather Semelmacher (Photo by John Valenzuela)
Heather Semelmacher (Photo by John Valenzuela)

After a schedule heavy on non-conference opponents early in the season, head coach Heather Semelmacher and the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s lacrosse team have begun an important five-game stretch in SCIAC play that includes home games vs. Chapman and Pomona-Pitzer. Semelmacher is in her second season at the helm of the Athenas women’s lacrosse program, after three seasons as head coach of the State University of New York at New Paltz program. Despite the team’s busy schedule over the next few weeks, Semelmacher took a few minutes out of her schedule to talk about her time here in Southern California, what made her want to coach at CMS and how she likes to spend her time away from coaching.

You’re originally from New York, how has the transition been to Southern California living?

Heather Semelmacher:
Amazing, absolutely amazing! I love Southern California. I use to come out here a lot to coach elite field hockey in Palm Desert and I played out here in college. Also, it’s nice being able to coach the sport I love all year, without having to shovel snow off the field since the weather is so beautiful. I laugh at myself now when I complain about being cold here if I’m wearing one jacket and I look at the temperature and it’s 58 degrees outside. Often times on the East Coast we would play games in freezing conditions. I really do love Southern California.

What’s been your favorite part so far about living in Claremont and in Southern California?

I think my favorite parts of being here are the people and also the dynamics of my surroundings. There is so much to do here. I really enjoy being outdoors and I like mountain biking, trail running and going to the beach. It’s also nice to know that I am only an hour away from skiing which is something I did a lot back home. Also, everything tends to be so much more relaxed here which is something that I have had to adjust to with my New York personality. Often times, I’ve had to remind myself to slow down a little bit. More so than anything, my favorite part of being in Southern California is the people that I have met.

What made you want to coach here at CMS?

There were several things. When I first looked at CMS, there was so little turnover in the department with the exception of the women’s lacrosse program. When I found out why, it was mainly because the previous coaches were moving on to the Division I level. I had already been at the Division I level so I wanted to come back to a Division III program and the private school setting which is what my background mainly has been. To me, coming to such a prestigious school along with the type of student-athletes who attend school here made CMS an attractive place to coach. It also meant a lot to me to see how much of a family-oriented department it is here at CMS.

What type of student-athlete do you like to have on teams that you coach?

I’ll start with the athlete portion first. As far as what I am looking in a player, I want someone who is scrappy and is a player that goes after everything on the field. I always tell recruits, if you drop a pass, you’re not going to fall off our recruiting list, what matters is how you go after that dropped pass and how you tackle the failure that you just had. Do you redeem yourself or do you drag your head and make your teammates pick you up because that’s not what we want? I want someone who is going to go after every mistake that they make and want it so badly that they are going to finish everything they started. As far as the academic portion, we want someone who is strong academically so we don’t have to watch over them all the time with their classwork. All together, we are looking for a well-rounded student-athlete.

When you aren’t coaching lacrosse, what are your interests away from the sport?

Being outdoors is something that I love. I have two labs (Labrador Retrivers) so I enjoy hiking and also going to the beach. I definitely enjoy traveling and have done a lot of traveling so far. I’m looking to visit the Greek Islands, not this summer but the following summer. Also spending time with family and friends is important to me.

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