Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/10/16
From Press Release
La Salle University named two additions to the women’s lacrosse staff this Tuesday. Allyson Heavens (Garnet Valley) and Ben Whitcraft will be joining the coaching staff as assistant coaches beginning in fall of 2016.
Heavens – the 2012 Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year – graduated from Penn State in May 2016 with a degree in kinesiology where she was a four year starter for the Nittany Lions and part of one of the most successful classes in the programs recent history. As a senior captain, she helped to lead her team to an NCAA Final Four, while also earning a Big Ten Championship in 2015 as a junior. Heavens further established her leadership role as a member of the Penn State Athletic Directors Leadership Institute.
“Ally left a huge impression on me from the first time I worked with her back in her high school days as a state champion at Garnet Valley and then as a student-athlete at Penn state. Ally is the total package for a young coach; she’s smart, eager, a hard worker and fiercely competitive. Ally will not only make an immediate impact on our current players, but she will be a huge asset in recruiting as she will help us attract top caliber student athletes with her personality and coaching style,” head coach Candace Taglianetti Bossell said. “Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her coaching style is definitely going to bring out the best in our team. She truly is one of the best young coaches out there and I feel very lucky to have her as a member of our La Salle family.”
In addition to her stellar playing career, she has also gained coaching experience at various camps and clubs such as SEPA, PA Express, Villanova and Penn State Lacrosse Camps. Currently she serves as a head coach for the Philly Blast Lacrosse Club in Villanova.
“Ally is one of the most prolific local players in recent years. Beyond her back to back high school state championships and college Final Four appearance, she is also an excellent role-model and certainly one of the most relentless competitors I ever coached,” said La Salle alumni Kate Henwood and Heaven’s former state championship coach at Garnet Valley. “Her knowledge of the game at an elite level coupled with her strong sense of community make her an excellent fit for the Blue and Gold. As an alumnus, I am eager to watch the Explorers thrive under her tutelage.”
At La Salle, Heavens will serve as the defensive coordinator, manage the midfield lines and draw units. She will also be the social media coordinator and a recruiting coordinator.
“Ally is a true competitor who has a passion for coaching,” Penn State head coach Missy Doherty said. “I’m so excited that she is beginning her coaching career at La Salle and I know she is going to do a fantastic job.”
Whitcraft joins the Explorers following his stint at Mercer University as the women’s lacrosse assistant where he served as the head goalkeeping coach. Under his guidance he helped the team to its first ever berth in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in 2016. His Mercer squad also finished second in the nation for groundballs per game. His main focus however, was in between the pipes and his goalkeeper was named First Team All-Conference, the first in school history and led the nation in saves per game.
Prior to serving as the assistant women’s coach he had a successful coaching career in the men’s game. He was the volunteer assistant for the Mercer University’s men’s program for two seasons and even stayed on for the 2016 season while also coaching the women’s team. While serving as the men’s assistant, Whitcraft worked under one of the most successful coaches in the game, Kyle Hannan, where he helped the team finish second in the Southern Conference.
“I am extremely excited about the addition of Ben Whitcraft to our staff. Anybody who meets Ben or has had the pleasure of working alongside him will agree that he has a passion for the game and his biggest strength is his ability to teach and help players to reach their fullest potential,” said Taglianetti Bossell. “Ben has left an impression on every program he has been a part of, specifically his goalkeepers. He is a student of the game, with an innovative lacrosse mind and while his specialty has been film breakdown and goaltending, I am looking forward to him expanding upon that role. There is no doubt Ben’s work ethic, dedication and commitment to excellence alongside his positive and calming approach will benefit our players.”
A former Division III head coach, Whitcraft gained invaluable experience in building and running his own program at Defiance College in Ohio. He also coached for Hendrix University in Arkansas as an assistant men’s lacrosse coach from 2011 to 2014 where he guided his goalie to lead the conference in save percentage. The communications major earned his degree from Marymount University in 2008, where he was a four-year starter who also earned the rare honor of being named captain as a freshman.
In addition to head goalie coach, Whitcraft will be a defensive coordinator for the Explorers’, as well as the head of scouting and also coordinating rides and clears and film exchange and breakdowns.
The new pair of assistant coaches will join Taglianetti and serve as vital factors in improving the Explorer’s performance for the upcoming year.
“Having the opportunity to add two coaches of Ally and Ben’s caliber to our staff is really exciting,” said Taglianetti Bossell. “We are fortunate to have them as part of the Explorer family and I can’t wait to get started.”
Tags: La Salle University