Behind the Bricks: First in a regular series that shares the stories behind the inscribed bricks that adorn the Henry A. Rosenberg Jr. Promenade at the new US Lacrosse Headquarters.

A post-lunch walk on the Henry A. Rosenberg Jr. Promenade, which joins the east entrance of our new offices in the IWLCA Building to the bleachers of Tierney Field here, often helps stave off an afternoon food coma.

Look down and notice the hundreds of inscribed bricks on the concourse, donated by the lacrosse community in support of the National Campaign for Lacrosse, which resulted in part in the brilliant new facility I get to call my workplace everyday. The bricks honor — in far fewer characters than Twitter would permit — teams, players, leaders, and memories made in the lengthy history of lacrosse.

I didn’t get far on one such stroll when I noticed a brick in honor of “Coach El.” I could not take another step before I saw another, then another, and yet another. I started counting — 22 in one row not far from midfield seats. By my count at least, no other individual or team represents the subject of as many bricks.

“We wanted to give Coach El the recognition she deserves,” said Nancy Senich, a mother of three girls in the McLean (Va.) Youth Lacrosse community program and the Pride travel program. “It was fitting to honor her on that promenade for contributions not only to lacrosse, but to our girls.”

Coach El is Eleanor Gollob, a former eight-year commissioner of McLean Youth Lacrosse and the founder of Pride. She played lacrosse and ice hockey at Princeton, earning the university’s top female athlete award in 1990. She and her husband, David, moved to McLean in 1998, and she immediately put her passion for coaching lacrosse and developing girls to work.

As participation continued to grow — David Gollob estimated more than 400 girls will play in McLean this season — demand for a higher level of competition increased. Coach El founded what ultimately became the Pride travel club, incorporating in 2013. I met her June 17-19 when Pride made a worthwhile eight-hour drive to Lebanon, Ohio, where it won the U15 Division of the US Lacrosse Midwest Summer Splash.

“I’ve been coaching these girls for most of the last three years, and I’ve seen their quality of play improve,” Coach El said after the gold-medal game that clinched Pride’s automatic bid to the US Lacrosse National Championships a month later. “It was exciting to come to a US Lacrosse event against these strong teams and play our best lacrosse.”

That Coach El at that time mentioned player development now comes as no surprise to me, having since learned she has been part of a volunteer group of youth coaches that has contributed to the development and test-implementation of concepts in the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model.

Coach El

Development of girls, both on and off the field, has remained a passion for Coach El, in part since observing mostly male coaches involved in the higher levels of club soccer, in which daughter Jill Gollob participated prior to playing lacrosse. Coach El sought to have strong female role models for girls in both the McLean Youth and Pride organizations, and the results have taken hold.

“The girls have evolved as players and as confident young women, and that’s what I love about El’s program,” Senich said. “It is highly competitive, but it’s also compassionate. It fosters confidence and maturity in these young women, and it’s been a good bedrock for them as they go into the middle school and high school transition.”

Senich, who played as a kid in South Jersey and remains a fan of lacrosse, wanted a way to honor Coach El, and Senich discussed just that with Catherine Hoffberger of the US Lacrosse Foundation staff when the two met at a summer 2015 tournament. With the capital campaign underway, Senich rallied the McLean community to participate in fundraising, leading to the bricks honoring Coach El and former McLean Youth Lacrosse executive director David Morris.

“There are a lot of unsung coaches out there, and this is a great way to honor them,” Senich said.

David Gollob has had the opportunity to watch his wife’s influence on Jill, a Yale commit, and the other families in the McLean area.

“The parents might say she’s bigger than life, loud on field with energy, excitement and fun,” he said. “The girls love being competitive and they’ve had success, but they also have water balloon tosses at Friday practices. That makes girls say this is a fun sport with fun people, something I want to spend time doing.”

That’s what makes Coach El a keystone, not only on a promenade at a stadium, but for the sport as a whole.

Honor Your Coach or Team at US Lacrosse

Space remains available for you to donate an inscribed brick to honor an important lacrosse figure or team in your life. Thousands of visitors are expected at the new Tierney Field and National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2017.

Learn More