The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


Erica Lipstraw has never been a head coach before — she hasn’t even held her first official practice — but she’s already starting to sound like one.

“My coaching staff and I are excited about the season, and the girls are pumped as well,” Lipstraw said. “We’re looking forward to it and see what happens. We have the athletes and the knowledge, we just have to put it all together.”

Lipstraw, a former soccer and track standout at Oak Harbor, was hired to replace Mike Harder as the head soccer coach at Genoa. The Comets went 6-8 and 2-6 in the Northern Buckeye Conference last season.

Lipstraw, 24, who set school records for most goals in a season and most hat tricks in a season before graduating from Oak Harbor in 2008, earned a track scholarship to the University of Toledo.

“I ran track my first year and then I decided I missed soccer so much that I wanted to walk on (at UT),” she said. “I tried out the spring of my sophomore year and I made the team and played with them all spring. I got into my junior year and decided (student) teaching was taking up way too much of my time. I was a student teacher at Perrysburg Junior High and I had some other (teaching) experiences when I was at UT.

“I missed soccer so much, that was my favorite sport to play. I wanted to go back to it and see what I could do. That spring season I scored three goals. That was a nice accomplishment, to walk on and have that. The (UT) girls were all welcoming, and it was a great experience.”

Lipstraw graduated from UT in December with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education. She will teach physical education and health at Genoa Middle School.

Erica’s younger sister, Sara, who also starred on the soccer field for Oak Harbor, will be Erica’s assistant coach at Genoa. Sara recently graduated from Mount Vernon Nazarene University near Columbus, where she played soccer all four years. Sara graduated from Oak Harbor in 2010.

“We’ve played well together,” Erica said. “We’re very competitive against one another, but at the same time we get along on and off the field. She’s a good person to have, to check me back into reality.”

Ironically Lipstraw, who played forward, said some of the most intense matches in high school were against Genoa.

“When we played Genoa we had to be on our ‘A’ game,” she said. “My senior year, that was my last game on their football field and we lost to them. I remember playing so hard. I never came out of the game and was on sidelines and my legs cramped up. I was sitting there crying on the football field. I never thought I’d be back at Genoa.”

Lipstraw said it felt “surreal” to not only be able to land a teaching position right out of college, but to also get a chance to run her own soccer program.

“It’s a dream I’ve had for a while,” she said. “I’ve wanted to be a coach my whole life. I had a great experience growing up and I always wanted to give back. My parents (Gary and Crystal) told me to always give back what you’ve been given. We’ve had great coaching experiences growing up. I’m very blessed to have the opportunity and show what I can do.”

The Comets’ first game of the 2014 season is Aug. 19 at home against Central Catholic. Lipstraw is taking baby steps getting things started, beginning with conditioning and making her pitch to get as many girls to come out for soccer as she can get. Genoa has never fielded a junior varsity squad.

“Eventually I’d like to have enough girls to get a jayvee team,” Lipstraw said. “We’re lucky to have a varsity. Some schools in (the NBC) don’t even have a team. We have good freshmen coming up, so I’m excited about that. It’s about them getting to know my coaching style and me getting to know their playing style as well, where they’re going to fit best on this team.”

Lipstraw will hold a Genoa Lady Comet Soccer Camp on June 21, from 8-11:30 a.m.

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