Air Academy women's lacrosse coach Kali Maxwell never expected to become a head coach this early in her life. She is just two years removed from playing college lacrosse. However, Maxwell received a lot of support from players' parents, former coaches of hers and the school's athletic director, which helped her garner success as a rookie coach.
But like every first-year coach, Maxwell her "welcome to head coaching" moment, which happened when the Kadets took on the Mullen Mustangs on March 14, the second game of the season.
The teams went back-and-forth throughout the game. Air Academy saw its first-half two-goal lead starting to slip away in the second half. So, Maxwell wanted to regroup her team and called a timeout. Unfortunately for the Kadets, Maxwell didn't have one to call.
"I was used to the collegiate rules, so I thought we had more timeouts than we did," Maxwell said.
That mishap helped result in a one-goal loss for Air Academy. Maxwell felt that she blew the game and took full responsibility. The result made her dive into Colorado high school lacrosse rules a lot deeper and the end product was beneficial for her and the Kadets.
Air Academy ended up finishing 12-5, making it to the quarterfinals of the state tournament for the first time since 2014. That success helped Maxwell claim The Gazette's Coach of the Year award in girls' lacrosse.
"I had an amazing group of girls to work with, which made my job much easier," Maxwell said.
Not only did Maxwell lead the Kadets to their deepest postseason run in two seasons, she also led them to a 7-0 Southern Conference record.
"I didn't expect it, but I knew we could do it," Maxwell said. "Last season, on and off the field for some of the girls, there was just a lot of adversity that was going on. Coming into this season, they were excited to get back into it and there were some changes early on in the season. They just took it in stride.
"I knew we had the talent, lacrosse wise, we all just had to buy into the whole mentality and what it takes to win. I really think it started clicking this season with a lot of girls, which was awesome to see them grow as lacrosse players but also as people."