POWHATAN – When Powhatan Girls Lacrosse head coach Laura Camp learned that she was named the 2019 Region 4A Coach of the Year, she was really taken by surprise.
She was also proud to know that her fellow coaches had noticed the improvement.
“I just feel humbled that they chose me as the Coach of the Year, but also just excited for our program,” Camp said, “and really thankful to all of them for their acknowledgment.”
Camp this year not only coached the four-seasons-old program to its winningest season to date (9-6), but she also led the team to its first-ever regional playoff victory, which came against Midlothian in a 10-9 nailbiter of a matchup in the Region 4A quarterfinals.
Prior to coaching, Camp played lacrosse for Notre Dame Prep in Baltimore before competing at the Division I collegiate level for James Madison University all four years. She helped out with lacrosse in Powhatan at the rec league level before taking an assistant coaching role with the varsity team at Powhatan High School.
She’s led the Powhatan varsity Indians as head coach over the past two seasons, and has also coached the 2025 Yellow Jackets South club lacrosse team for the past year.
Camp wanted to create a positive learning atmosphere in which the players: felt safe, felt that they could make mistakes in order to learn from them, and felt encouraged to know that they can be great lacrosse players.
She also wanted to create and enforce structure and accountability; when the players commit to the team, she wanted it so that they were committed for the whole year.
“You have to work your schedules around our practice time,” was Camp’s requirement for the players. “You have to show up and be there in order for us to learn and be successful.”
And the players were excited, she said.
“They wanted that structure – they were looking for structure, they were looking for encouragement, they wanted to become better players and learn.”
Her message to the team was: “You’re in a place where you’re going to be supported, and you’re going to be taught the correct way to play lacrosse, and I’ll be your biggest fan.”
When she first worked with the team, she noticed that the players had really strong chemistry and some strong athletes – they were just lacking the needed stick skills and game IQ, as several of them were newcomers to lacrosse in general what-with the Powhatan lacrosse programs joining the VHSL level for the first time in 2016. She saw that players were relying on teammates who had played lacrosse before high school, meaning they weren’t really learning how to play as a team and play together.
She knew that building up the team would take time – it wouldn’t happen overnight. When Camp first helmed the unit, the focus was on throwing and catching, on building upon the fundamentals and on getting everyone up to speed.
The following year, the team started offseason a little earlier, and several of the players committed to improving their stick work.
“It really showed this year because we had so many scoring threats and so many assists, which is just a huge leap and improvement upon the previous years,” Camp said.
Boosting the players towards their banner year in 2019 was the confidence they attained from winning seven games in 2018.
“I think they brought that excitement and that confidence into this year,” Camp said, “and worked extra hard and had more motivation and determination to improve our program and win against teams we had lost to the previous year and really show everyone that we’re getting better and our program’s improving.”
The team also went into 2019 prepared, thanks to preseason strength and conditioning workouts.
“We came into the season in shape and strong,” Camp said. “We didn’t have one child in the training room this year due to not being in shape. If they were in the training room, it was because they got injured in the game – it had nothing to do with their physical fitness. I’m really proud of the girls for committing in the preseason and putting in the work, because we had all of our players mostly the whole entire season.”
Camp sees that the Powhatan Girls Lacrosse program is on the right track – the players just need to keep moving forward and keep doing the things they’re doing right now as far as stick work, conditioning and commitment.
“I think that it just gives us momentum going into the next season,” she said, “and a little boost of confidence as well.”
From Camp’s perspective, it truly takes a village to have success. She credits the combination of the parents’ support, the players’ commitment, the work of assistant coach Angie Van Buskirk and her own efforts for getting the team to where it currently stands.
“I feel like it took all of us working together to have the success that we had this season,” she said. “I look forward to continuing that and creating a culture based around our team as a family. I’m really excited for the future of our program.”
And she adores her players.
“They each bring something different and special to the team in their own way – I would do anything for them,” Camp said. “I’m so excited for their success and I just can’t wait to get back out on the field with them again next year.”