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Women’s lacrosse: Assistant coach Jill Byers joins professional coaching staff

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OSU assistant coach Jill Byers during their game with the University of Cincinnati in the horseshoe on Sunday February 19. Credit: Courtesy of Walt Middleton

When the Ohio State women’s lacrosse team’s season concludes on Saturday, assistant coach Jill Byers will start her second season in the United Women’s Lacrosse League (UWLX). Byers was hired for the same role with the Long Island Sound in the middle of last week, OSU announced.

The move will not affect her status with the Buckeyes, as Long Island’s season runs from May 27 through Aug. 2. This is just the second season for the growing UWLX — which currently has four teams — giving Byers an opportunity to help grow the sport on a national level.

“I’m pumped. I’m so excited,” Byers said. “I’m blessed that (OSU coach Alexis Venechanos) is letting me do this … To be able to see the game at a different perspective and work with a bunch of great lacrosse minds within the staff and also kids that I’m coaching is going to be awesome to bring that back and have a wealth of new ideas.”

Byers will be coaching under Syracuse University coach Regy Thorpe and alongside Caitlin Defliese, who is also on staff at Syracuse. Byers and Defliese coached together when they were a part of a 17-win Stony Brook team in 2014 that made a run into the NCAA tournament.

“I think it is a bunch of really cool people that are going to be involved at the helm,” Byers said. “But then, also, the caliber of athlete that we get to work with is just inspiring and so exciting.”

Most of the games in the league coincide with many recruiting stops for high school players, which gives young athletes a chance to see the game at a professional level.

“Jill (Byers) is always trying to expand her horizon and learn new things,” Venechanos said. “She is such a student of the game. She’s watching different sports, and the reason why I say that is because she is always trying to make herself a better coach.”

The UWLX is headquartered in New England and has four franchises that are based in Baltimore, Boston, Long Island and Philadelphia. The Long Island Sound won the inaugural championship over the Boston Storm last year. Byers said her new team looks to continue to build on what they’ve already started.

“There’s only four teams right now,” Byers said. “But I hope it expands — it would be great for the sport. The games are going to be at these recruiting venues so to have little girls be able to go watch people play every single weekend at the highest level is just really inspiring.”

For now, Byers and the Buckeyes have one regular season game remaining against Johns Hopkins on Saturday at 10:45 a.m. in Columbus.

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