QV's Cibulas takes lacrosse squad to playoffs in first season
Rachel Cibulas proved this spring that, at the very least, she's very good at 10 percent of her job. Cibulas, a 2002 Quaker Valley graduate, helped make history in her first season as the women's lacrosse coach at Adrian University, an NCAA Division III school in Michigan about 70 miles southwest of Detroit. Cibulas led the Bulldogs to a 17-3 record, a conference championship and their first NCAA tournament appearance this spring. On top of that, she was voted the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference coach of the year. While certainly a success, the on-the-field coaching Cibulas did this season, by her estimate, accounts for one tenth of the duties required to run a college program. "You really have to love what you do," she said. "I'm so passionate about the game. I love sharing it with people. I love teaching younger kids how to play, and when things get really tough and you have really long days and it gets really frustrating, I just kind of remember the first time I picked up a stick." Cibulas was a star on defense and at goalie for QV in the days before lacrosse was a WPIAL sport. She then became the first women's player to sign with Robert Morris, becoming a two-time captain as a Colonials defender. Right after she graduated in 2007, Cibulas got into coaching as an assistant at Adrian in the program's first season. She then spent time as an assistant at Slippery Rock and with Bethel Park High School before taking a head coaching job at NCAA Division II Lenoir-Rhyne in North Carolina, where she spent the 2011 season before returning to Adrian as the head coach. Now, the 28-year old Sewickley native practically controls everything about the women's lacrosse team, from strength and conditioning programs to fundraisers to academic monitoring to recruiting. About the only thing she doesn't do is the team's laundry. "We do have an equipment manager," she said. "So he takes care of our laundry and most of our equipment needs." On a typical day this past season, Cibulas might have been working from 6 a.m., when the team practiced, to 11 or 12 p.m., staying up to watch scouting tapes and call recruits in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. Now that the season's over, Cibulas and her assistant coach get to enjoy a summer scouring the United States and Canada to unearth lacrosse talent that will keep the Bulldogs in the NCAA tournament, which Adrian hosted this season. Even though the Bulldogs lost to Denison in the first round — 11-10, in two overtimes — Cibulas said the campus was buzzing and the team felt kind of like local heroes, something that more than suffices as a return for so much responsibility. "I'm 28 and I made it to the NCAA tournament. I couldn't be happier," Cibulas said. "The end reward always beats every 6 a.m. practice I have to do and every road trip I'm on, when I'm missing my family, missing my dogs and missing my sisters. But it makes it all worth it at the end."
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