Shawnee's Zechman named top lacrosse coach

Janae Zechman
Janae Zechman
Posted: June 13, 2013

Standing on the field after the Tournament of Champions final, Glade and Shannon Nugent took a few moments to reflect on their senior season.

They talked about the adversity they had faced.

They talked about how their Shawnee girls' lacrosse team had grown closer through impossibly tough times.

They talked about their head coach, Janae Zechman - and when they did, the first thought that came to mind had nothing to do with lacrosse.

"One of the things I'll remember was how I always knew that I could go and talk to her anytime I wanted," Glade Nugent said of Zechman, this season's Inquirer Coach of the Year in South Jersey girls' lacrosse. "There were many times when I would go into her office just to talk to her about everything we were going through.

"Not even just things happening on the field - she was great with everything happening off the field, as well."

In a season that was one of the most successful in recent memory for Shawnee, it was off the field that Zechman had perhaps her greatest impact.

Zechman returned to the Renegades this year after missing a season during a maternity leave. Upon her return, she was tasked with helping her team cope with the unthinkable news that one of its players, Katie Kiernan, had brain cancer.

Zechman was instrumental in rallying the team, and the entire South Jersey lacrosse community, in support of Kiernan.

All the while, Zechman helped keep the Renegades together. She guided Shawnee to a 19-3 record, the program's first state championship since 1998, and an appearance in the Tournament of Champions final, in which Shawnee lost to otherworldly Moorestown, 11-5.

"I'm just so proud of the team because I think we far exceeded anyone's expectations of us this year," Zechman said. "We had our ups and downs, but these players made it worthwhile to come back to coaching after a year off, absolutely."


Contact Chris Melchiorre

at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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