By Justin Lafleur, Lehigh Sports Media Relations
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/3/15
Ability is only important if it’s utilized. Whether it’s on the lacrosse field, in the weight room or in the classroom, ability doesn’t always translate to success. More is needed.
Lehigh women’s lacrosse senior defender Kelly Scott has “more,” and there’s no better example than her work in the area of strength and conditioning.
“As much as lifting and speed are physically enduring, it’s more mental,” said Scott, of Ridge High (N.J.). “How mentally tough are you to get through the workout? That translates onto the field more than anything else. If you have the right mindset and you never give up, that carries a lot more weight than having the fastest 40 (yard dash time) or squatting the most weight.”
Scott doesn’t hold the team’s best numbers in the weight room, but she brings extra qualities that help not only herself, but also her teammates. She brings leadership and overall intelligence.
“I always think Kelly has worked hard, but lately, she’s really embraced the role of becoming one of the leaders on the team,” said strength and conditioning coach Eric Markovcy. “I’ve seen her evolve immensely over the last two years because she’s embraced this role of being a leader. We need people. to not just care about themselves, but also care about the success of the team. It’s huge to have another coach on the team and that’s what she’s become.”
Scott is small in stature and admitted to having some doubts coming to a Division I lacrosse program. She was nervous thinking about having to defend players standing much taller and bigger than her. Scott eventually turned that nervous energy into extra drive and motivation, knowing she’d need to work hard in the weight room to compensate for her size.
“Kelly Scott has transformed her body as an athlete in our program,” said Lehigh head coach Jill Redfern. “I wish I had a before and after photo. Kelly is able to match up against some of the nation’s top attackers as a result of her hard work in the weight room.”
“Growing up, I was the smallest girl on all my teams,” said Scott. “I also played basketball and soccer. I never had my height to my advantage, but it just made me work that much harder to be at the same level, if not better than, the other girls I played against.”
Scott has started, and had success, from Day 1 at Lehigh. She started all 16 games as a freshman, tallying 13 groundballs, 13 draw controls and four caused turnovers.
“It can be a little intimidating when you’re playing against these girls who have a foot on you and maybe 50 pounds sometimes… especially as a defender,” said Scott. “It’s not always easy, but you definitely get the confidence from your teammates and you need to have your own confidence and know that size doesn’t matter on the field. Again, that comes down to being mentally tough.”
Kelly has always embraced her work with Markovcy, but she admits it really “clicked” and went to another level her sophomore year.
“In high school, I never really lifted at all,” said Scott. “I just kind of relied on running and my endurance to get me through. Coming into Lehigh, I really underestimated the impact that lifting and speed training would have on my performance.
“Just having a year of experience, you start to get the hang of things, you know the workouts and you know some of the drills,” Scott continued. “Eric always mixes it up so you never really know what’s coming. I started to build my confidence a little more and become more vocal during my sophomore year. That translated into being more vocal during these workouts, pushing myself and trying to be competitive with my teammates. That’s how you get better.”
Through competition, Scott has continued to raise the bar for herself and her teammates. She continued to start every game while also being named team captain as a junior for her leadership, on and off the field. Kelly has really taken initiative over the past two seasons, creating a culture that breeds success.
“You need people who are going to be that vocal leader and you also need people who are going to lead by example,” said Markovcy. “It’s very rare that you get someone who has both, and that’s what Kelly has.”
An integral part of Scott’s success is using what she has. Her frame may be small, but her work ethic coupled with her smarts make her play like someone bigger.
“I want people to be as strong, as explosive and as fast as possible, but more importantly, I want them to be able to use those numbers on the field,” said Markovcy. “There’s often that guy or girl who will squat X amount, but they’ll only use a portion of it because they don’t have the toughness, the motivation and the confidence to be able to use it. Kelly squats a certain amount and she uses 100 percent of her ability. That’s all you can ask for.”
Markovcy even admitted that it would be interesting to find a way to calculate everyone’s numbers relative to their character – things like toughness, motivation and confidence (mentioned above).
“Testing is a little bit overrated sometimes because you can be a stud in a bubble, but are you going to be a stud once the whistle blows, once the lights are on?” said Markovcy.
Scott has thrived in Markovcy’s unique program, a program that doesn’t focus on raw numbers, but rather doing exercises that lead to success in one’s particular sport. Scott epitomizes what Markovcy hopes to accomplish.
“It’s a different kind of training (than most other places),” said Scott. “At Lehigh, it’s really nice to have another person (Eric) who’s just as close to you and the team, who knows what’s going on and pushes you just as hard as a coach would push you. You have that connection to the point where you don’t want to let them down, just like you don’t want to let your coach down. That makes you go a lot harder in the workouts.”
Markovcy is so well-regarded by the women’s lacrosse program that he’s listed as a coach on the team’s roster. Eric is integral to the team’s success.
“What Eric provides for our player development through the strength and speed curriculum is unparalleled,” said Redfern. “We say so often that Eric is simply the very best at what he does. Our athletes are incredibly fortunate that he is on our staff at Lehigh.”
“To have support and buy-in of a coach just validates everything we do,” said Eric. “When I’m with Jill’s program, I feel like I’m a women’s lacrosse coach. I’m not the strength and conditioning coach. It lets my voice resonate so much louder within the team and we can get more out of them because of that. We (women’s lacrosse and strength and conditioning) are like identical twins, not fraternal twins.”
Through Eric’s program, Kelly (and all the student-athletes) have learned skills that should translate to post-graduation success.
“How you take on workouts, how you go about day-to-day activities and your attitude on what you’re doing will translate into the real world,” said Scott, a math major and business minor. “Mostly, I think teamwork and being a team leader will have the biggest impact. Just knowing how to build relationships and knowing how to talk to a large group of girls and be motivating will definitely help me after graduation.”
Heading into her final semester at Lehigh, Scott has already secured a job. She’s going to work at American Express in the finance department in New York City. She interned there last summer and received an offer at the end of the internship.
Kelly’s time with the women’s lacrosse program has helped set her up for success. A team atmosphere mimics challenges one faces in life.
“Just learning to handle different obstacles and challenges and overcoming a lot within our team, it’s going to help me a lot once I graduate,” she said. “From my freshman to senior year, our team has had ups and downs; we’re doing really well this year.”
Eric’s goal of utilizing one’s ability is evident in all walks of life. Ability isn’t enough. Kelly once was intimidated by more imposing players, but Markovcy has helped build Scott’s mental game.
“Kelly knows that being strong and injury resistant is key to staying healthy and winning games,” said Redfern. “Strength and speed work is not naturally easy for Kelly, but she has learned to be the best. You need to make your strengths superior while simultaneously protecting your weaknesses.”
“Because of Eric’s workouts and Eric’s confidence in myself and my team, I look at being undersized as a challenge and I want to guard those girls who are twice my size because I know I can,” said Scott. “I can truly say that my mental toughness has increased just because of Eric getting in my face, really not letting me give up at any point and making every little thing a competition. Those small aspects really add up and translate to success.”