A brand-new program hit the Sun Devil campus this 2017 school year: A Women’s Division 1 Lacrosse team. The coaching staff of Arizona State University’s team is strong. Three women head up the team to keep things moving as one unit. One coach in particular, Ashley Bruns, is here to lead the program and girls with direction and comfort, just as she led her D1 team at University of Florida during its first year.
Bruns started playing lacrosse in the fourth grade in Ellicott City, Maryland. She was captain of her high school lacrosse team for two years when she decided to continue on as at the collegiate level. Turning down offers from colleges such as Duke, Boston College, Louisville, Delaware, Cornell and James Madison, she decided to spend her years on the University of Florida D1 Lacrosse team, far from home and family.
Bruns earned various awards such as National Rookie of the year, 4-year SEC and ALC honor roll and was named an All-American during her four years at Florida, just to name a few of the 63 awards she won. She pushed herself day in and day out to be the best at what she was doing. She became comfortable with being uncomfortable out of state, away from family, and fighting to be the best.
Her skill was incredible and distinguishable through many different awards, but what you cannot put on paper is the determination she had post college- to bring a group of ladies all together from across a nation to play as a unit.
“In order to bring girls from all over together, it is important to get to know who we are recruiting. I like to take the time to get to know the player as well as her family so that I am bring athletes that are aiming towards the same goals I have for the program,” Bruns said.
She is the piece missing that the team needed to create a unit. “I’ve known Coach Ash for 5 years and I know for a fact that if she hadn’t worked with me and pushed me to be better and work harder I wouldn’t be here at ASU,” Sophie Thomas said, a freshman on the ASU team said.
Bruns takes time during practice to talk with each girl, getting to know who they are outside of the sport. While getting to know the girls, she brings a unique style of coaching to the table. “As a former lacrosse player, I was a part of the very first program at the University of Florida. I chose to come to ASU because I wanted to be a part of another new and growing program.”
The program is new, but players are already expressing how thankful they are to have a coach like Bruns leading the team, no matter what day it may be. “She has a calm presence when our lives are hectic and she truly cares about all her players. She knows us all so well and it helps on the days when you don’t want to work or put in the extra time to have a coach who does know you be able to push you just enough to make you work hard without pushing you too hard,” Sophie Thomas, a freshman on the Arizona State University Women’s Lacrosse team.
No matter what age the players are, she takes the time to set aside coaching and put herself back in their shoes as players, like she once was.
“Coach Ashley makes it easy to be yourself around her and she motivates her players to work hard when the times get tough. She has also taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes and take risks because that’s the only way you will become a better player,” Sydney Boman said.
She expresses the importance of teaching the girls to “be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” while on the field in order to be a better, more well-rounded player.
“This plays a huge role in teaching athletes skills that they might have never seen before, giving them the ability to adapt to any situation on the field. It is important for my athletes to understand that they can accomplish anything as long as they have no limitations on the field,” Bruns said, explaining that this is how the players will grow and adapt on the field at this high level.
When Burns has a bit of time outside of the game of lacrosse, she enjoys to paint, horseback ride, spend time with family, and spend time with her two dogs; Bella Marie and Livy Grey.
Burns has lived and breathed lacrosse since she can remember and will continue to in hopes of developing a strong-minded group of girls at ASU. “I hope to give my athletes the confidence to compete at the highest level so that they can not only enjoy the sport they play, but also win,” just as she played at that very same level just a few short years ago.