PITTSFIELD -- Jenna Giardina was just like most of her players on the Pittsfield High School girls lacrosse team.
A three-sport athlete at Taconic, Giardina played soccer for four years at Franklin Pierce University, playing on teams that went 75-8-9 over her four years in school. Her first two years at Franklin Pierce, she played softball.
Going into her junior year, Giardina threw the school the proverbial changeup. Instead of going out for softball, she switched to lacrosse for her junior and senior seasons in 2007 and 2008. Giardina finished her varsity career with the Ravens playing lacrosse, and now she is coaching the Pittsfield and Taconic co-op team.
"I picked it up after spring break," said Giardina. "It was a blast. I fell in love with the sport up there."
And the 35 members of her team notice it.
"She really gets what it's like to start playing a new sport, once you've already been through playing other ones," said Pittsfield senior goalkeeper Molly Barbarotta, who has been playing the game since she was a freshman. "She gets playing and then realizing you don't like a sport and then jumping into something completely new after you've been trained for other things your entire life."
Giardina was a soccer standout at Franklin Pierce, playing on a team in 2007 that advanced to the NCAA Division II championship game.
She had 8 goals and 13 assists for the Ravens in her senior year and led her team with five game-winning goals. One of those five came in a 3-0 win over Bryant in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"She sees it from a college level, so she's bringing in more than somebody that only played in high school would know," said Pittsfield's Rebecca Schnopp. "We're all new. Lacrosse is such a new sport. It's really cool that she sort of joined it at the same time we did and we're all on the same level."
The new Pittsfield coach said she didn't get right on the field for Franklin Pierce coach Meighan Guiney-Allison. Giardina said that some of lacrosse was like soccer in that she was already in shape from running. It was the hand-eye coordination aspect of the sport that was different for her.
"Catching and cradling is really hard for a lot of people," she said.
Giardina is the third coach for the Pittsfield team in three years. Dani Gardino coached them last year after Taconic teacher Erin Maloy helped shepherd the team through its growth as a member of the Berkshire County Lacrosse Association's club league.
"Every coach we've had has played in college," said Barbarotta. "They all know drills that are really good and really helpful for all aspects of lacrosse."
"They all know different things," said Schnopp. "They teach us different things. She brings in the hard-core part of lacrosse. She has us work hard, but she also is making it really fun. That's what high school sports are about."
The new Pittsfield coach said that she wants to encourage her team to follow a path she took in lacrosse.
"I wasn't the best player out there," she said. "I tried to be the hardest-working person out there.
"The same work ethic I put into playing a game, I use to coach."
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