After 25 years of coaching high school girls lacrosse in Baltimore, Wendy Kridel is ready for a new adventure.
The Bryn Mawr coach is headed to California this summer to become National Director for Tenacity 10, which runs girls lacrosse camps around the country and sponsors club teams in San Francisco. The company, part of Sherry Sports, LLC, was founded by one of Kridel's former Bryn Mawr players, Theresa Sherry.
Kridel leaves the Mawtians after 18 seasons as head coach, during which her teams were always competitive in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, winning the title in 2000 -- with a team that included Sherry, who went on to become a three-time All-American and win two national titles at Princeton.
"She's been working on me for a few years," Kridel said, "and I think the opportunity to get to grow the game of lacrosse in an area where it's still so new, there's so much opportunity and Theresa's been doing this for the last seven or eight years. She's so unbelievably repected out there and she has been doing all this lacrosse buinsess in the most respectable and upstanding way.
"I believe that she and I share such similar philosophies, which I guess makes sense because I coached her and because she wants me to work with her, but for me it creates such a new energy."
While the challenge ahead is exciting, telling the unhappy younger Mawrtians about her decision to leave wasn't easy.
"I said to them, 'First of all, I've been at Bryn Mawr as long as you've been alive, but I'm still young enough for another adventure,'" Kridel, 49, said. "And I said, 'Let that be a lesson to you. It's not that what I'm doing isn't fantastic, but I'm not sure at my age I'm ready to say this is all I'm going to do.' I keep trying to say to them, 'I'm not leaving your life. I'm just taking a new place in it.'"
For those who doubt that, Kridel said she keeps in touch with some players from all four of the schools where she has coached. Before the team dinner this spring, the Mawrtians reached out to former players and presented Kridel with a box of letters from many of them.
Kridel started her coaching career with a year at Owings Mills before moving to Roland Park for the 1991 season. She led the Reds to five straight championships in the Association of Independent Schools, the predecessor of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland, and went 64-5-3.
She moved on to Towson in 1997 and coached the Generals to the state Class 2A-1A championship -- still their only state title.
At Bryn Mawr, it took just three years for the Mawrtians to win the title, in the first year of the IAAM. After falling in the semifinals twice, they won the 2000 championship and went 20-1, falling only to No. 1 Mount Hebron, which became the juggernaut after Roland Park.
Kridel, a member of the US Lacrosse Greater Baltimore Chapter Hall of Fame, also coached the U.S. national team to three straight Federation of International Lacrosse Under-19 World Championships between 1999 and 2007. She is an assistant coach for this year's team, which will play for the championship in Edinburgh, Scotland, in July, joining head coach Kim Simons, who has been co-head coach with Kridel at Bryn Mawr the past 10 seasons.
Coaching with Sherry, whose programs also reach into Texas, will be Kridel's first foray into the club scene. As a Bryn Mawr coach and the school's athletic director, she chose to put all of her attention into the school rather than take on a club coaching role as many top high school lacrosse coaches have.
"I'll definitely be coaching, but it's a combination of things," Kridel said. "Theresa runs so much program already -- theres the club portion of it, where she's got over 600 kids in California that play for BearLax, then she's got close to 100 kids that play in Texas ... so we're managing all the teams. We run an extensive coaches' education program, a lot of consulting, running events, doing a lot of fundraising becuse we try to give out a lot of scholarships. Then I'll be assigned a region in California specifically [to oversee]."
With Kridel's departure, assistant athletic director Tina Steck will take over as AD in an interim capacity. Steck is also the Mawrtians' soccer coach.
On the lacrosse field, former Mawrtian Jordy Kirr will join the staff. If Simons elects to stay -- a decision she's putting off until after the Under-19 championships -- Kirr will be co-head coach. If Simons leaves, Kirr will be the head coach.
An assistant coach at Marquette for the past two seasons, Kirr was an All-Metro attacker who played for Kridel on the 2007 Under-19 team and then at Georgetown. A four-time All-Big East selection, she has also worked as an assistant high school coach at Loyola Academy in Illinois and at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes in Alexandria, Va.