Westwood’s Sarah Biron successful for Johns Hopkins’ lacrosse
Sarah Biron lost a total of nine games in four years at Westwood High. It’s not just that she doesn’t like to lose — she doesn’t know how to lose.
In her freshman season on the nationally recognized lacrosse program at Johns Hopkins, the Blue Jays matched Biron’s career loss total in a single spring.
While Johns Hopkins collected wins over five ranked foes, narrowly missing out on an NCAA Division 1 tournament bid, the Blue Jays finished 9-9.
“I definitely got a good hunk of humble pie,” said Biron, who was the only freshman to appear in all 18 games for the program.
“It was an adjustment, but I learned so much. I don’t think I would have wanted a freshman season to go any other way.”
Of course, playing for a team like Westwood, which spent half of the season or more winning games by double digits, was much different from playing one of the toughest schedules in Division 1 college lacrosse.
“I was like, ‘OK, this is the real world; you have to step up your game,” Biron said. “At Westwood we barely played defense. My defense improved so much. Every win was such a big win and it was a change of pace.
“I love summer, but I’m ready to go back. I played my first summer league game. We have this league in Milton, all Mass Elite alumni. So I want to get the jersey on again and go out there.”
While Biron can’t turn the clocks ahead and race back to Hopkins just yet, she’s been working on a new skill this summer: coaching.
At the women’s national tournament in Long Island Memorial Day weekend, Biron was a last-minute substitute coach for Lower-New England Team 5.
With her dad, Scott — the varsity girls’ coach at Acton-Boxborough — as a mentor, Biron’s team won the Mohawk division.
Her dad’s e-mail inbox was flooded with messages.
“They all kept saying, ‘Your daughter was unbelievable with my kid,’” Scott Biron said. “I had a father there from San Francisco to see his daughter for one day, and he’s on the plane flying back using Wi-Fi to e-mail me how impressed he was with Sarah.
“I’ve said all along, when you live in a house with coaches you gain a certain aspect of the game. You get no sympathy when you get home if things don’t go right, but you also learn it’s not easy. And I think she sees that.”
While fellow Westwood alum Meredith Frank took over at Notre Dame of Hingham last year as a 23-year-old with just a single year of coaching experience as a graduate assistant at her alma mater, Northwestern, her younger sister, Alex, was recently hired as an assistant coach at Boston College after enjoying a similarly successful career at the Illinois school.
Biron left Westwood High last spring with a similar reputation. She finished her career with 234 goals and 103 assists, including 119 points her senior season, and was the 2011 Globe Player of the Year.
Meredith Frank’s Cougars got a chance at her mother Leslie Frank’s Westwood Wolverines in the Division 1 North semifinals this year, ultimately losing, 18-8. But Biron thinks that game really opened some eyes — including her own.
“What Meredith did with her team made everyone say, ‘Hmm . . . I wonder if Westwood is going to lose this here,’” Biron said. “Obviously, it’s scary, being on the sidelines to see two great teams. But that’s just so inspiring to see how many girls were able to take steps.
“Who knows, there might be five Westwoods in five years.”
And Biron could be coaching one of those teams. At least work ethic shouldn’t be a question. Aside from playing in a Tuesday night league with former Mass Elite players, she’s been training this summer.
And not just shooting against a wall — which, of course, she does do.
She does defensive drills. Alone.
“Basically, I imagine someone is there,” she said. “I use football lines — the five and the 10 — and try to imagine the girls in front of me. I even close my eyes to do it. Keeping my body low, my hands out in front of me, I don’t even use a stick. Shuffling back and forth, side-to-side to maintain the attacker where I want her in a 5-yard radius.
“I’m always trying to work on my foot speed, dragging out cones and using those. That stuff you can do by yourself and become an amazing defender within a month and a half.”
Biron has been working mostly for local camps this summer, training kids from second to 12th grade. She said she tries to bring a lot of energy, which has never been a problem for her on the lacrosse field.
And while she’s only 19 and still has three years left at Hopkins to carve out an impressive collegiate career, she’s already decided coaching is in her future. She loves the game too much to ever leave.
“I always figure that if I can show someone how passionate I am about something, they’ll feel that passion, too,” Biron said. “All I want is to see improvement in players. Athletics gave me such an amazing opportunity and to see young girls become successful and be a college athlete — that would really fire me up.”
Alex Frank (inset) was hired at BC just months after graduating from Northwestern, where she was a three-time All-American.
The former standout at Westwood High, where she won back-to-back state titles playing for her mother, Leslie, Frank was a two-time captain at Northwestern, which is the three-time defending NCAA Division 1 champion. She finished her career with 57 goals and 77 assists, also ranking second all-time at Northwestern in career-caused turnovers and fifth all-time in draw controls.
“The women’s lacrosse program will benefit greatly from Alex Frank joining the coaching staff,” coach Acacia Walker said in a statement. “Alex was not only an incredible lacrosse player but is a selfless leader. Her enthusiasm, dedication, and knowledge of the game will help take our program to the next level.’’
Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.