Think of them as a difficult-to-locate metal – or in the case of Katie Lamm, a rare breed – a previously untapped natural resource. And like most natural resources, they possess the power to make life as we know it better.
But because the timing still isn’t right, it may be that this rare metal will continue to go un-mined.
Locally, Katie Lamm is the poster-child for the final step in the evolution of female athletics in our society. She is a qualified woman who genuinely enjoys and wants to coach girls.
It appears highly unlikely that Lamm will become Elco’s next head girls’ soccer coach. What is truly disappointing about that is the fact that she might be the most qualified person for the position.
“I have not applied for the position, and I probably will not,” said Lamm recently during a telephone interview. “Near the end of the spring season I had to make a choice. Three years of being out of college, subbing (substitute teaching) allowed me to coach and have a flexible schedule.
“But I went back to school to be a physical therapist,” Lamm continued. “By next fall, I’ll be in the midst of my internship. Balancing (being a head coach and school) would be feasible, but difficult. I don’t know where I’m going to be. I don’t want to put the girls in that position.”
The Raiders’ head girls’ soccer position opened up last month when Lamm’s boss, Steve Keller resigned. Keller was named the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three coach of the year after guiding Elco to a 12-5 record, a section title and an quarterfinal appearance in the District Three Class AA postseason.
In his four years since taking over for Kirk Keppley, Keller’s Raiders went 57-30-1.
“Things went really well this season,” said Lamm, who served as Keller’s top assistant coach. “There were definitely high expectations going in. We knew what we had, and most people didn’t. We knew we had a good group to work with, players who had experience under their belt. We knew we had a good group of rising juniors. And the kids started the season looking at the future.
“We won the section for the first time since I was a freshman at Elco,” Lamm continued, “so we were happy about that. We battled the injury bug, but we had some kids who did a phenomenal job for us. We’re proud of what we accomplished.”
Not only did Lamm graduate from Elco, in 2005, she also substitute-teaches there. Lamm was a star for the Raiders during her playing days – as she was at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia -but she was always coached by men.
To observe the animated Lamm on the Raider sidelines, she is energetic, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and genuinely seems to foster a good rapport with her players.
“It really did occur to me,” said Lamm of the notion of becoming the Raiders’ first female head soccer coach. “But it was never a driving factor. It is what it is. I don’t look at it as a female head coach as much as wanting to give back to a program that gave so much to me.
“There was a different connection between me and the girls, and Coach Keller and the girls,” Lamm continued. “The conversations we had when we went on runs were conversations that Coach Keller would’ve never had with them. It is somewhat easier (a female coaching girls opposed to a male coaching girls), and as a female coach it’s still not easy. I am very passionate, which I think the girls respect.”
There is little question that the needs of female student-athletes are best served by female coaches. But for varying societal reasons, there just aren’t as many women head coaches as there are men.
“I have every intention of staying on in some capacity,” said Lamm. “But I am not going to be the head coach. If I had know earlier (about Keller’s resignation), I might have made a different decision. It was not an easy decision, because coming back and being the head coach at Elco has always been my dream.
“At some point, a career is going to be more beneficial to me than another job,” Lamm continued. “The (girls’ soccer) program is a part of me.”
Lamm would not rule out the possibility of becoming a head coach somewhere in the future, or at Elco for that matter. In fact, one is left with the distinct impression that it is one of her career goals.
“I would hope I’d be a good one,” said Lamm. “I’d like to think so. It’s a little intimidating to think about taking over something totally and making it your own. But I have enough foundational support that I think it would help. That would give me an advantage, plus I have connections in the Lancaster-Lebanon League. I’d like to think the girls would be on board. But it’s hyopothetical. It’s not going to happen.
“Oh my gosh, yes,” Lamm added. “A head coach is something I’d totally want to be in the future. It’s part of who I am. I’d love to be a head coach when the time is right. But I’m a person who very much has to give 100 percent all the time.”
While Lamm and Keller possess two different types of personalities and therefore two different coaching styles, each had a healthy respect for the other.
“We had a great relationship,” said Lamm. “We had two different coaching styles, but I thought we complemented each other. We served different roles. I’m the more vocal, adamant coach. He’s more of a laid-back coach. I was more of a drill sergeant.
“He (Keller) told myself and the JV coach about two or three weeks before the end of the season (that he was going to step aside),” Lamm continued. “We knew before the girls. I was kind of surprised, but kind of not surprised. We thought at some point he wanted to go on to other things. I totally respect his decision.”
“Steve did a fantastic job,” said Elco athletic director Doug Bohannon. “He’s a great guy to work with. He’s just a super person. It was difficult to go from the spring to fall (when the PIAA switched seasons). But he’s a professional. He’s so polite and so kind. He’s one of the good guys.”
The Raiders don’t appear to be in any particular hurry to fill the vacancy.
“We’re just going to open it up and follow the process we always do,” said Bohannon. “I don’t want to talk about anyone in particular.”
“I don’t think there’s much of a rush,” said Lamm. “I guess they’d (the administration) like to have someone by the end of the summer. I’d like to see it be someone on the inside of the program, or close to the program.”