GREENWICH — Natural athletic ability was going to carry Caitlin Young to a college career.
Versatility, as well as being in the right place at the right time, has brought the former Wilton High School star so much more.
Young is in the middle of her first season as Greenwich’s girls lacrosse coach. The Cardinals are 7-4 and have the fifth best record in the league where Young once excelled.
By all accounts, her debut has played to rave reviews for a program itching to take the next step back to being a consistent title contender.
“I’m really excited; it has been great,” Young said. “I feel like the coaching aspect has been the easiest. Being a role model for these kids and making sure they are leaving the field good people and making good decisions. High school is a very pivotal time for young female athletes.”
It certainly was for the 5-11 Young, who as a senior was an All-FCIAC basketball player at a time when the league was loaded with outstanding centers.
Young was being recruited for basketball, but was discovered at a lacrosse camp she decided to attend with some Wilton teammates right after the end of her junior year. North Carolina called to ask about her interest, Young recalled, on July 3. Four days later she was a Tar Heel.
“I was kind of pretty lucky,” Young said. “Lacrosse was always my for-fun sport. I always tell my kids I did it the complete wrong way. I knew a little about the school and the sport, and my thought process was if I had the opportunity to get the education at North Carolina… I really started loving lacrosse. I started playing club with my teammates. It was all new and fun.”
Young said her success on the basketball court expedited her development in lacrosse.
That’s why I’m a huge proponent of multi-sport athletes,” she said. “I’m pretty sure the only reason I was recruited is they could see I had some athletic ability. From basketball I had the footwork and anticipation skills. I was super raw.”
Young is the classic example of someone getting a foot — on in this case, stick — in the door and wedging it open. She was a member of three Final Four teams at North Carolina, but red-shirted her junior year after injuring her ankle.
After graduating, she worked a summer camp with Laura Field, the associate head coach at Fairfield University. The Stags had an open spot on the roster, and Young had both a year of eligibility and the desire to attend graduate school. Young ended up leading the nation in caused turnovers.
Young soon became immersed in the area lacrosse community. She was a graduate assistant for the Stags for three years before becoming an assistant last year for New Canaan’s Kristin Woods. Young was also the girls lacrosse director at Chelsea Piers and is currently the director, recruiting coordinator and 2019 coach for the SoundCrosse Lacrosse Club girls program.
When the Greenwich job opened up at the end of last season, Young decided there was still room to add to her resume.
“I was at New Canaan last spring and I enjoyed that level and wanted to get back into coaching higher-level kids, and the job was available,” Young said. “I kind of put my name in and it worked out. Greenwich has a ton of talent and a ton of support. I want to get involved with that youth program and make it a lacrosse family.”
At 28, Young is one of the youngest coaches in the FCIAC, in any sport.
“It has been both me getting used to them and them getting used to me,” Young said. “I knew a few of the kids before, and even if we were friendly there is that line. I’m the coach and I had to make sure that line is clear.”
Young said she kept a one-goal win over Wilton last month and a one-goal loss on Tuesday to New Canaan in perspective.
Of the return to her alma mater, Young said, “It was fun to go back, but it was really about the girls and us as a team. It was our first big game and I think that was more important.”
Young has crammed a lot of lacrosse into the last decade, and though she didn’t express it directly, it is obvious she is hoping to use her accomplishments as an advantage.
“Some of my background helps,” Young said. “They look at me like I know what I’m talking about. I want to get Greenwich back in the mix. Greenwich was an absolute powerhouse when I was playing. Getting them back at that level would be great.”