When she’s not on the field coaching or game planning with her assistants, Lebanon Valley College women’s lacrosse head coach Rachel Perla is in the classroom. She enrolled in LVC’s Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program in Fall 2020 when she was hired at the College as a way to provide better advice and resources as a coach.
“One of my favorite things about coaching is the relationship aspect with my players,” said Perla. “While I appreciated the level of trust these players had in me, I wanted to feel confident in my advice. I realized a large part of coaching was, in fact, counseling, so I chose to pursue my master’s degree to become a better coach and a better resource.”
Perla is already implementing tools and lessons she has learned in the program to be a more empathetic coach. One of the greatest stressors she sees in student-athletes, in general, is the unknown associated with the pandemic.
“The student-athletes currently in college have never experienced life in college pre-COVID. There are stressors and demands of being a student-athlete that are ‘normal,’ but are new to them,” said Perla. “For these athletes, years of their high school experience were online and more relaxed. Now, they come to college and are in the full swing of things with extremely high expectations at a brand-new place, which can be challenging. The learning curve can be substantial for some, so it is important to keep perspective.”