Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, July 16, 2019

AU’s youngest women’s lacrosse coach proves age is just a number

Jenna Petrucelli shares passion for lacrosse through mentorship

AU’s youngest women’s lacrosse coach proves age is just a number
Coach Jenna Petrucelli on the sideline against George Mason on Feb 27

Jenna Petrucelli, head coach of AU’s women’s lacrosse team, has exceeded the lacrosse community’s expectations as she finishes up her first season. At 26, she has worked her way up to become the youngest head coach of AU’s women’s lacrosse using her experience as a student-athlete and guidance from previous coaches.

Petrucelli started her career as an athlete at the University of Mary Washington, and she worked her way up to head coach of a Division I program in the span of four years. She spent her years honing her craft as an assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati and Bucknell University. Petrucelli had lots of on the field experience, but decided to go back to school to get her masters in Sports Management from the University of Florida in 2018.

“I got my masters in sports management to supplement the work I’m doing now,” Petrucelli said. 

Her love of lacrosse wasn’t always as strong as it is now. She struggled during her first three years of college with a coach that made her look at the sport in a negative light. It wasn’t until her senior year that a new coach helped her find a new love and passion for the sport. 

“I had a really negative experience with my first collegiate head coach and a really positive experience with the collegiate coach [Caitlin Moore, whom] ended my senior year,” Petrucelli said. “She ignited a fire in me that I felt really had burned out in my first three years.”

Petrucelli got into coaching because she wanted to give players the same experience that Coach Moore gave her.

“I looked back on that experience and just thought to myself, if I can get into coaching and do it the right way and be the type of coach that [Moore] was for me,” Petrucelli said. 

Moore knew from Petricelli’s time at Mary Washington that she had a knack for coaching from the way she interacted with players and her knowledge of lacrosse.

“Jenna’s passion for mentoring young women and teaching life lessons through the sport will set her teams up for success,” said Moore.

Throughout her coaching experiences, Petrucelli hasn’t forgotten about the importance of her education. During her two years a Bucknell, Petrucelli was an academic advisor and recruiting coordinator in addition to being an assistant coach. With the experience she gained at her previous jobs as a coach and former student athlete, she has been able to share her knowledge of lacrosse and being a student athlete to her players at AU. 

“I really value my education both previously and currently,” Petrucelli said. “I think important facet about who I am as a person and I'm really motivated in that respect. I'm really happy that it's still a part of the job that I'm doing right now.”

Although she is younger than most coaches, Petrucelli’s knowledge of lacrosse has helped her teach student-athletes how to adapt to the fast-changing game.

“I think my knowledge of the sport and the game is far beyond my chronological and my biological age,” Petrucelli said. “Being young and passionate about the sport can be an added advantage that you don’t find in people who have been in the industry for a long time because they tire and burn out since the game is changing at a fast pace and unable to keep up with it.”

hlevine@theeagleonline.com 


Never miss a story.

Get our weekly newsletter in your inbox.