GV assistant lacrosse coach to lead Swiss National team


Courtesy / GVSU Lakers

Zack Goodrow, Staff Writer

One of the Grand Valley State University women’s lacrosse assistant coaches has been given an enormous opportunity.

Nora Boerger, a second year defensive coach on the team, is going to be the new head coach of the Swiss Women’s National Team. This will be Boerger’s second year coaching for the team, but her first at the helm. 

It’s been a long journey in Boerger’s athletic career in playing and coaching before she took over the Swiss team. Boerger’s experience with lacrosse and being a coach may have been non-traditional from other coaches in the game.

She went to college on a Division II basketball scholarship and played throughout her freshman year. However, during her sophomore year, her college added a new sport for students to play: lacrosse. She walked onto the team in its first year of creation and played strongly for the next three years.

After she graduated, she got a job at Ohio State and coached for the Buckeyes for two seasons as the director of operations. She then moved on to the University of Findlay as a defensive assistant and goalie coach. From there, she coached for Lenoir-Rhyne University, and helped the college win their first ever South Atlantic Conference regular season championship.  

“I didn’t spend my whole life playing lacrosse,” Boerger said. “I just spent most of my time being a three sport athlete and being heavily involved in basketball. I think the transition was very smooth to coaching lacrosse and now I’m just enjoying the journey.” 

Boerger’s journey then led her to GVSU, where she became the defensive coordinator for the team in 2018. Not only was it Boerger’s first year coaching with the team, it was head coach Mackenzie Lawler’s rookie season at GVSU as well. Lawler knew Boerger through one of her old coaching mentors from the University of Findlay. They knew each other from many different camps throughout the years, and when Lawler reached out to Boerger, she was eager to get started. 

“It was a great fit right from the start,” Lawler said. “It couldn’t have worked out any better than it did during our first season here together. Her style really compliments mine. I think we’re both very caring and energetic coaches. It was really great for me as a first year head coach to truly be able to trust her with our defensive unit. They had a very successful season last year.”

Success is a good word to summarize the lacrosse teams fortunes last year. The team went 14-4 for the season, and made it all the way to the GLIAC championship. However, the team lost to No. 11 University of Indianapolis 18-17 in overtime. Overtime in women’s lacrosse are sudden death, and after a Indianapolis score, the team was unable to rebuttal and lost the game on a heartbreaking note.  

The season was not over for Boerger, however, as she then traveled to Switzerland to be the associate head coach of the national team. One of Boerger’s previous bosses from a past university was named the head coach of the Swiss team. She then gave Boerger a call to become the new defensive coordinator for the team.

She has spent two very successful seasons with the team before being named the head coach for this year. During the Women’s European Lacrosse Championships in Israel, she assisted the team into winning the opening round against Spain 11-3. The team unfortunately fell to Norway and Austria in the semi finals. The team was very prosperous in 2019, Boerger has plans for the team as she begins her first season in command, whether in the game plan, players or the coaching staff. 

“I have a twin sister who coaches at Central Michigan University,” Boerger said. “We’ve brought her on as our offensive coordinator. I’m excited to see the things she’s going to bring to the team from an offensive standpoint. She’s a great coach with a lot of energy. Defensively we’ll make some changes here and there depending on who’s trying out or returning. We’ll see how the season goes.” 

For Boerger, the process of going to coach the Swiss team has been smooth. The coaches on her staff are very determined, hard working and know the sport, making this transition as easy as it can be.

GVSU comes first to Boerger when she’s here in the states, and her superiors are very supportive and letter her go and take care of things for the Swiss team when it is needed. All of these factors have made this experience a truly special one for Boerger. 

“The experience is great and it’s been awesome,” Boerger said. “It’s very different though. At the collegiate level everyone is younger and everyone overseas are adults. I think our youngest player is 25-years-old and they all have full time jobs. It’s a different dynamic and it’s a great experience and very rewarding. They all work very hard and we have a lot of fun.”

Boerger has plenty of fun at GVSU as well. Her players on the team love to be coached by her. She brings energy to the team alongside her experience. Her players and fellow coaches are also very happy for her and her amazing opportunity in Europe. 

“(Boerger) has made a huge difference for our team,” senior midfielder Megan Yoshida said. “We’ve had defensive coaches in the past, but she’s the first one that’s been specifically focused and locked in on our defensive unit. I think it’s awesome that’s she’s coaching the Swiss team. Not only does it amplify us because we all think we’re a little cooler because now we have an international coach, she’s also very proven and this position shows that she is one of the best out there. I’m very proud of her.” 

“I’m so excited for her,” Lawler said. “I know she had an amazing experience there last summer. It’s an amazing opportunity both for her to help grow the game of lacrosse internationally. Swiss lacrosse is very different from how it is here in the states. It’s also an amazing opportunity for her to help grow Grand Valley. You’re on a national stage, she has an opportunity to grow, and we’re all just so proud of her.” 

GVSU’s season starts Feb. 23 against Lake Erie college. They will continue to grow on their success from last season and hope to win the GLIAC championship this year. The Swiss national team will start playing games in the summer, and Boerger will be ready to push them towards a World Cup winning season.

Whether in the states or in Europe, both teams will have their marvelous coach and “hype man” on their sidelines. 

“Coach Nora is the biggest hype man on our squad,” Yoshida said. “She comes and runs out onto the field and gives people chest bumps and a bunch of crazy things. There’s always something going on with coach Nora, and we love it.”