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Coast Guard Vet Coonan to Steer BVT LAX

Sam Coonan admits the transition from running rescue missions on the ice-covered Great Lakes to teaching physics and coaching lacrosse at Blackstone Valley Tech was a little jarring.
She had to get used to driving in traffic again, for starters. There isn't much traffic in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., the isolated border town on the state's upper peninsula where she had been stationed for the past three years. But coaching the Beavers this spring has helped made the adjustment to civilian life a little easier.
"The kids are excited and optimistic, which is awesome," Coonan said. "We have a handful of freshmen who have never played, but they are athletic and picking it up."
Coonan, 28, has been playing lacrosse since she was a middle schooler growing up in Grafton. She competed against the boys until reaching high school, where she was part of the first lacrosse program at Grafton High. Coonan then played basketball and lacrosse for the United States Coast Guard Academy, graduating in 2012.
She was stationed in New Jersey for two years before being shipped off to the frigid Midwest. Coonan recalled missions involving law enforcement on the Great Lakes, countless search and rescue missions, dispatching resources for medical emergencies, and a two-week trip to secure a large freighter that ran aground right on the US/Canadian border.
"At one point they thought we were going to lose the ship," Coonan said. "A lot of people don't realize we inspect vessels. We have to make sure it's stable, lead salvage efforts, coordinate with Canada and a lot of our small boat stations, set up a safety a security zone to make are boaters are staying back, there is a lot that goes into it."
After five years in the Coast Guard, Coonan moved back home to Grafton and is pursuing her graduate degree at Northeastern. She said she has been enjoying coaching and jumped at the chance when offered the head coaching job with the girls' lacrosse team.
After all, coaching runs in the family. Her older sister Crystal coaches volleyball and softball at Advanced Math and Science Academy and leads the Abbey Kelley basketball team in the winter. Donna Coonan, Sam and Crystal's mother, is the assistant softball coach at AMSA and captured numerous titles as the volleyball coach at Sutton. Sam's father Barry Coonan is especially close by, serving as the BVT track and field coach.
Now Sam Coonan has a new mission. It doesn't involve breaking through the ice of Lake Superior, but it is both challenging and rewarding.
"I want us to make districts this year and have the girls start developing a more strategic approach the game," she said. "At the JV level, I am hoping we can start to develop their skills. It's been great working with the kids at BVT, and it's been a lot of fun."




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