When Ricky Fried took the reins as head coach of the women’s lacrosse program in June, he inherited a program that has climbed into the national spotlight as a perennial championship contender.

Being handed a team that has seen the NCAA Final Four three times in the past four years – including two trips to the Championship game – was a far cry from the team his predecessor, Kim Simons, took over in 1994.

For the team, the selection of Fried as head coach marks the latest step in a decade of change that has brought the Hoyas nationwide attention.

For Fried, it marks the beginning of a new era.

“The culture of the team is to look forward, not to look backward, and not to worry about mistakes,” Fried said. “Not to focus on what we’ve done, whether it’s good or bad, but to look forward and see what we’re going to do.”

Fried was promoted to head coach early this summer after spending two years as an assistant coach with the Hoyas, including last year as associate head coach.

Simons resigned her on-field duties at the conclusion of the season to spend more time with her husband and two young sons. She later accepted the position of associate director of athletics for sports administration, which Fried said allows her to work on what’s best for the women’s lacrosse team – and other Georgetown athletic teams – on a big-picture level.

“She’s downstairs kind of hidden away a little, so I don’t know how much the girls see her,” Fried said from his office on the second floor of McDonough Gymnasium. “I’m sure she’ll have some advice for me, some opinions to give me, but she respects the new era, so to speak. She’s excited for what she’s doing and excited for where the team is.”

In his role, Fried intends to work with the team at the micro level, focusing on the nitty-gritty aspects of play.

“Our styles will vary a little. Kim [Simons] built the program. She started with basically nothing. Now we have athletes that are at a higher level than when she started, so the difference is going to be what we’re doing on the field,” Fried said. “There are some Xs and Os that are going to be focused on now that may not have been able to be focused on in the past.”

When Simons took over the program in the fall of 1995, the Hoyas appeared firmly mired in mediocrity. Last season, the team finished 13-5, posting its fifth consecutive undefeated conference schedule.

Fried says he will look to players who have experience and have influenced the team’s success in recent years. The team’s seven seniors, all of whom contributed to last year’s Final Four appearance, top that list. Fried already classified their efforts this season as “tremendous.”

“The three captains have helped me tremendously. All three of them have played, have been there and know what they’re doing. It’s a nice position for me to be in,” Fried said.

Fried has plenty of experience in his own right to draw on.

He graduated from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County in 1988, where he earned MVP honors and All-American status as a midfielder. After graduation, Fried helped coach at UMBC while playing professionally in Philadelphia and later Baltimore from 1989 to 1997. Fried also coached at the Gilman School in Baltimore for several years before becoming the assistant coach at Johns Hopkins University.

He joined the Hoyas’ coaching staff after serving nine years as assistant coach for the women’s lacrosse team at Johns Hopkins University. There, he helped transition the team from Division III to Division I and eventually into the top 20 rankings.

Fried calls his transition into women’s lacrosse “strictly accidental.”

The all-boys Gilman School, Fried explained, made a rule that coaches must also be on the school’s faculty, and Fried was working outside the school at the time. The wife of the coach he was working for at the Gilman School, however, offered him an assistant coaching position when she took over the top women’s spot at Johns Hopkins in 1994.

“I don’t think the male-female issue is an issue,” Fried said of coaching female teams as a male coach. “This is my twelfth season coaching women, so they don’t – how do I say this so I don’t sound stupid – they don’t see me as a guy, they just see me as a coach.”

Gender aside, if Simons took over a team mired in mediocrity a decade ago, Fried assumes control of one stagnated short of greatness. Despite several appearances in the Final Four and the Championship game, the national title has thus far remained elusive for the Hoyas. With a new coach and the dawn of a new era, the Hoyas hope to change that.

Some things, however, will remain the same.

“The things that have defined Georgetown in the past are going to continue to define us – work ethic, teamwork, leadership. Those things have to remain a constant,” Fried said. “When we play together, we’re pretty damn good. In the past, we’ve had some superstars that could carry the team when things weren’t necessarily going well, but now we realize that we have a group of people that, when we play together on both ends of the field, are pretty tough to stop.”

At the same time, Fried said it is important that both he and the team enjoy the season. As important as teamwork and winning are, he said, “we want to make sure that while we’re doing that, we’re relaxed, we’re having fun, we’re enjoying the moment. I have enjoyed it and continue to enjoy it. I don’t really see it as a job so much as I see it as something that I do every day.”

As head coach, Fried plans to blend some of the old with some of the new. While the women’s lacrosse program has taken major steps forward in the past decade, he looks to start a new era defined not by a change in the coaching staff but by the attainment of that elusive national title.

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