OKEMOS – Brandon Schwind spent the past five years making his mark on the boys lacrosse scene in mid-Michigan.
The former collegiate player, who played at Wittenberg University (Division III) in Springfield, Ohio, coached the Haslett boys team from 2012-13. After that, he went on to lead Michigan State’s men’s club lacrosse team for three seasons.
However, this year, for the first time in his coaching career, Schwind tried his hand on the girl’s side of things. And he ended up leading Okemos back to the Division 2 state semifinals.
“It was very different at first, but, like any sport, you learn the rules and move forward,” Schwind said of transitioning to the girls game, which slightly differentiates, in terms of rules, from the boys. “Between the two sports, the fundamentals are the same. It wasn’t too big of a transition once it got started.”
The Chiefs, who spent much of the season with a top-10 ranking, captured both the CAAC and regional title on their way to an 18-6 record. This year marked the team’s fifth straight trip to the state tournament.
Okemos’ head coaching position has been a revolving door in recent seasons. Schwind, the State Journal girls lacrosse coach of the year, became the program’s fourth coach in as many years, and he said his team’s determination to get to the state title game made his insertion into the program a smooth process.
“For the most part, it was a pretty easy transition,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s because they’re used to having a different coach each year. I’m not sure. But they’re all nice people, so it made it pretty easy.
“I think our seniors did a great job of buying in immediately. I think they knew they had goals to accomplish as a team, and they got on board.”
The Chiefs will lose a couple key pieces next season, including State Journal player of the year Angela Palmer, but bring back a sophomore class that played a key role in their success. Schwind believes this year laid the foundation for his program moving forward.
“They got experience this year and learned the system,” Schwind said. “I’m looking forward to how we start next season.
“We feel good about (what we accomplished) this season. …But the girls on the team are hungry and they want to do better.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.