With Jen Dunbar in charge, Birmingham is taking their lacrosse team to new heights.
Dunbar has been the coach of Birmingham United Women’s Lacrosse team for the past nine seasons, However, she’s also planning on taking over the Birmingham Women’s middle school lacrosse team.
If that’s not enough on her plate, Dunbar plans to start a lacrosse team for 3rd and 4th grade girls in the near future.
“The earlier we can get a team going and compete with [other young teams in the state], the bettter,” Dunbar said.
It’s easy to think a lacrosse coach as motivated as Dunbar would have lived and breathed lacrosse since she was old enough to pick up a stick. But that’s not the case for Birmingham Women’s Varsity lacrosse coach.
Dunbar didn’t pick up the sport till her sophomore year of college. Lacrosse was the University of Ohio Wesleyan’s way of keeping Dunbar from transferring to a different college to play softball.
“They said to me, ‘Jen we’ll find you a sport to play’,” Dunbar said, “and that sport was lacrosse.”
She grew up playing most all team sports, participating in mainly basketball, softball and soccer. Surprisingly, lacrosse was a sport she grew up having no knowledge of.
“The first [lacrosse game] I played was the first game I ever saw,” Dunbar said.
Despite her beginner-level start, Dunbar improved in the sport quickly and became a starter fast. And in her junior and senior years, she became an all league player for her college team.
Dunbar’s success in the sport didn’t lead her to becoming a lacrosse coach right away.
People see her as a strong outgoing individual who enjoys her leadership position com but she had to adjust to being comfortable around a group of people.
“It took me a lot to get to the point I’m at now,” Dunbar said.
Graduating college in ’97 and overcoming her fears, Dunbar moved on to become the BWLAX Coach for the past ten seasons and counting.
She juggled coach of this college team as well as head coach of U of M’s women’s club team for the past three years.
However, Dunbar decided that she was a better high school coach and quit her job at U of M last year.
“It’s fun to see the maturation and progress of my players and watch them grow,” Dunbar said, “I love my high school kids.”
And her highschool kids love her, claiming she’s more of a friend than a coach. Dunbar’s strength is taking time to get to know each individual player.
Senior Hailee Schuele who has played on BWLAX since she was a freshman thinks of Dunbar as a good friend.
“She’s the bomb dot com,” Schuele said. “I’ve gotten to know her so well that Jen’s like a family friend now.”
Her coaching techniques inspire her players and help them to succeed.
“I’m really lucky to have her as a coach,” sophomore Jill Fischer said. “She inspires me to do well and go as hard as I can, give everything I’ve got.”
With her extra time, she opened up a warehouse for training, eventually calling it ‘Real Detroit Muscle’.
“Coaching and teaching are the two things I love,” Dunbar said. “I view my work as play.” Denbar’s determination and motivation helped her to be able to succeed in what she loves.
“Know that there is always something bigger than yourself,” Dunbar said. “Find what you love and persue it.”