Lindsay as a player with the Northeastern Huskies (top left, photo by Northeastern Athletics) with the Connecticut Whale (top right, photo by NWHL), with the Boston Blades (bottom left, photo by CWHL and as a Coach at UMass-Boston (bottom right)

LINDSAY BERMAN: Portrait Of A Young Coach

Cetacean Nation connected with one of our favorite species of Whale this week, one we refer to as an OW. And the Original Whale we connected with was our original #10, Lindsay Berman. And since she was there Day One of the NWHL we guessed that she might have some special memories of the event. She responded “That is true, yes. I’ll never forget that It felt different than other firsts that I had: like my first college game, or any other firsts, That one I remember, the feeling was just different. It’s funny, I do remember winning but I don’t remember the score. I just remember my adrenaline was pumping a little more than normal. And I remember standing with Sam Faber in the corner during warm-ups, and we looked around and we’re just saying to each other “This is really special.” We talked a little about that first NWHL goal in in that game, scored as you know, by our “Once and Future Whale” #56 Jessica Koizumi. We mentioned that Jess, being the humble person she is, always downplays the skill it took to register that score. But Lindsay pointed out “On Jess’ first goal, I think it was a tip, but Jess is always in the right place at the right time.” 

If we had been interviewing a lacrosse player, the next portion of our chat would not have been so unusual. Lindsay hails from a Odenton, Maryland down in Anne Arundel County, south of Baltimore. We thought it was pretty close to where another Whale had grown up, our former #70 Sam Walther who comes from Gambrills, MD. Lindsay confirmed the geography and said “ Yes, they’re not even 10 minutes apart, it’s actually the next town. These towns are not exactly hockey hot beds so that’is pretty funny.” So how did Little Future Draft Pick Lindsay get her start in hockey so close to Crabtown: we asked. She explained “I loved sports, and my dad played football, basketball, and baseball so I was a Little League player. I loved playing football with him too. He never played hockey, never thought about playing hockey, so It came up pretty randomly. A friend of ours played, and I slept over at their house one night, and it turned out the rink where she was practicing the next day was closer to our house then their house. So the ice rink was set as a pick up spot, and I watched her practice a little bit with my Dad. I just told him, I want to play with them. I don’t know if it was the sport or if I just wanted to hang out with my friends, but it was like an instinct. I remember going to Play It Again Sports with my dad and grandmother, and they outfitted me in used equipment:) I honestly don’t remember the rest real well. But actually the next day, I joined this rec team and It just kind of took off from there. I played two years of recreational hockey starting at age seven in Howard County, MD about 25 minutes from Odenton. In the following two years I played boys Mites & Squirts, in Odenton with a team that’s no longer there Two years of rec, then I went on to travel teams, and I just loved it.”

Lindsay continued talking about her early sports career, reminiscing “Going to the rink was a highlight of my day even at that age so, I took off and my dad became a fan of the sport All my friends played lacrosse and baseball, and I did play competitive softball until I graduated from high school. That was kind of my break from hockey. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the same. But it was a really good change for me, and it was very competitive. We went to nationals and that sort of thing, so that was really fun. I played for both high school and a club team, but the sport in high school is a lot less serious. I played at the same level with my club in softball as I did in hockey, and most of my softball teammates went on to play in college. Softball was an awesome experience too!” We wondered if the softball portion of her athletic career resurfaced at any point? Lindsay stated “No, but right after graduation I joined a women’s league in Massachusetts. It turned out to be more or less a chore to get to the field at night because I was so busy with starting my coaching career, and I was still training for hockey. So no, I don’t play, but I love to throw the ball around if anyone wants to play catch! I played all the infield positions: third, short,;first and second and I even caught a little bit too. Basically all the positions except pitching. I never pitched. I tried, but it did not go well :)”  Lindsay also concurred with Cetacean Nation’s opinion that a multi sport type background like her’s is best for young athletes, saying “ I couldn’t agree more! Specializing is happening so early now, it’s scary. I don’t think it’s going to achieve the goals intended, I think it’s going to do just the opposite.”

As Lindsay began getting  into the next phase of her youth career, we asked if her ability to play both forward and defense began at an early age. She reflected and said “I think so. I definitely started playing D with the boys, so in that Squirt year I do remember being a defenseman. And then joining the girls at the U15 level, I started playing center, so it feel like the defensive skills were pretty transferable. I really enjoyed play making and setting up my teammates as a center.And when I got to college, they were pretty short on the defensive end so even though I came in as a center, I played both throughout my four years here at Northeastern. I really enjoyed that, and I think it’s helping now that I’m coaching, having had that experience on both ends I would encourage younger players to play both ends. I don’t think there’s any reason to specialize at an early age. I think it’s better to to get to know the game as a whole. I think it helps if you end up specializing as a defenseman, to know what the forwards are thinking, what they’re going through, maybe in terms of participation, and vice versa. I think it can only help them.”

Recounting her club hockey career, Lindsay related “I started with the Little Caps boys as a Squirt a Major and Pee-Wee Minor. I played two years of boys with them and at the same time I was playing U15 Little Caps Girls The Little Caps Girls program does not exist anymore, but the boys are still there. I started playing for the Washington Pride my sophomore year in high school. At that time, Kush Sidhu was the coach of the Washington Pride and he only offered a U19:program. We just thought that I was too young to play U19 at 13 and14 years old, even just socially. But now he runs U14 and U16 teams, so with that I would’ve stuck with the Pride if the timing had been a little bit different”

 Lindsay continued “Once I joined the Washington Pride I played in a league that was predominately out of the Midwest, so we’d travel to places like Detroit, Minnesota and up north we came to Boston? We were traveling almost every Thursday to play in our league games and in tournaments for the competition and for the exposure. Moving on to the with the Chicago Chill was a bit of a random thing, I was 13 years old and we didn’t know what I should do. I was turning 14 and I could play Bantam boys but we were worried about injuries,if I remember correctly. I was bigger than the boys for a long time, but that was the year that they started towering over me in height and weight. And since Kush only had a U19 team as I mentioned, my options were limited Out there in the summer before my freshman year in high school, we met a hockey family in Chicago. They owned the team and owned that rink they played on. They said if you don’t have anywhere to play, find a place to practice at home and meet us for tournaments. So I did and, I actually did it with two other out of state players. One was from Kansas and one was from Utah. The three of us flew in every weekend, since we really had no other option at that time. Then by.my sophomore year it was time to play U19 and be able to be home on weekends and not,miss as much school. It was an awesome experience meeting all those people.I still keep in touch with some of those girls I played with in Chicago and I still cross paths with them. Actually, one of those fly-in players also ended up as my teammate at Northeastern. That was pretty cool, running into each other four years later!” 

While she was in high school and playing for her various club squads, Lindsay also had the opportunity to attend some USA Hockey Development Camps. She explained “ That was another place where I met a lot of girls that I saw down the road, which is pretty cool. You’re on the team together for a week and then two years later you’re playing against each other in college, so that was a cool experience. The kind of relationships you were able to build was awesome. it was always a high-pressure week, and you felt like you had to be at your best. But you got to play against the best players of your age in the country, so for me it was always a privilege to be there. I always felt like this was a special experience that I should try to take advantage of. I want as far is the U22;camp, and I think I was 20 at that camp: I remember that one really well.I felt like I had a great camp, but I was cut at the end of it. Bur I felt like I gave it all I had, and it was a good experience. I learned a lot and that was basically it for the USA camps” 

Cetaceab Nation wondered if I the camp’s were a confidence builder for Lindsay. She revealed: “ I wish I had felt more confident at the time, looking back on it now that I’m coaching and teaching my players to be self confident. But back then, I really wasn’t. I wanted to feel “This is cool, am one of the best and I totally deserve to be here” But it was more like “Oh wow, I’m here with these great players I better not embarrass myself kind of a thing. But now that I’m on the other side of it, I do realize how special that was and how cool that was to be in that pool of players.. It’s really, really neat for me now to see our players make those kind of camps. And I just try to relay the message to them that they should take it all in and try to enjoy it. I know it’s high pressure but try to enjoy it, it’s really a special moment.” 

We asked Lindsay what other advice she would give to younger players on their way up through the ranks, as she had just descibed her own journey to us. She thought a bit, and responded “I think the process that these kids are going through right now is really overwhelming because how early they’re committing to college. I think they hear at every camp how limited the spots are at the Division I level. It’s something like less than 1% of their peers will go on to play Division 1, and they kind of freak out. So it’s definitely easier to tell them before hand and have them listen and understand it. But my advice would be to slow down and be a kid in high school! It’s really, really important to spend time with your friends and family, play other sports, and be a good friend. I try to tell the girls that I meet, that if you work hard and stay committed, good things will happen, if you just kind of trust in it. Personally, it’s hard for me to see how overwhelmed these kids are. The process was a lot different when I was going through it! and I do think it’s going to end up going back to that in a little bit. Encaustic of the NCAA changed the recruiting rule,m so you can’t talk to a kid until after their sophomore year in high school which is great. This particular year I think kids are still being overwhelmed because they see their friends are already committed. But because of this new rule, over the next couple of years it’ll become a lot less overwhelming for them. But essentially my advice would be for them to slow down and enjoy their childhood”

Lindsay was averaging better than a point per game in the last two seasons leading up to college. We wondered what the recruiting process was like for her. She recalled “I remember the college recruiting process very well. I remember not knowing at all what I was doing! I had no idea what to look for, or what I should be looking for, in a school. Maybe I was too focused on my high school and having a good childhood but times were a little different then. I received letters in the mail from coaches (My dad still has the accordion file of all the letters, which is pretty cool!) It was really humbling and flattering to receive all those letters of interest. I remember I made a list all the schools that reached out and I did a little research on all of them. Things like how many students, how far they work from home, what league they played in, and who they played against. I knew I wanted to study business (I did get my degree in business) so I also checked if they had a good business program. This is during my sophomore year that this started, and from there I took some unofficial visits. My Dad was driving to the different campuses and meeting the coaches. And I will add too that my high school coach at the Washington Pride Kush Sidhu was awesome about bringing the team to campuses when we were on the road, it was amazing! For example, we played at a tournament in Vermont and we visited University of Vermont and Middlebury. And when we played in a tournament in Boston he took us to all the Boston schools: Harvard, Boston University, Boston College, and Northeastern”.

Lindsay added ”So I got to see a lot while I was with my high school team, which is really helpful. Coach Kush is the best, he really helps his players in getting to college. So, I narrowed it down based on the experiences I had on my visits. Northeastern was not on my radar at all, but I met Laura Schuler at a camp. The was the summer before my senior year, and she said Before you make your decision why don’t you come visit? we didn’t want to rule anything out, so I said OK and we went the following weekend. I was going going around campus with my Dad not even an hour, and I said This is where I want to be! And so now when I talk to my perspective when I’m on the phone with them or they’re here on campus, I tell them You’ll feel it. It’s something you need to kind of try on and walk around because it’s not something you can always research online (which is a hard concept for kids these days), so for me it was a combination of things. I loved Boston and I loved the campus and I loved Laura Schuler and what she stood for, just her energy. But then she left after my sophomore year, butI did get a good two years with her. She’s still coaching so I still get to see her on the road which is a lot of fun.”

Lindsay arrived at a Northeastern as a freshman in ‘06-‘07 season, and picked up her first assist and her first goal that October. The Huskies struggled through a couple of tough seasons, but began turning it around in her junior year, and had a fine season when she was a senior. Lindsay helped lead Northeastern to the Hockey East Championship game both of those years. As a senior, Lindsay set career highs in most of her offensive categories as well, and was a force on the Huskie’s power play. Cetacean Nation asked how Lindsay remembered her years skating for the Huskies. She reflected “I loved my experience at Northeastern, and I walk into Matthews Our Arena (the oldest ice rink spin use in the world) each day for my job and it’s just the best. I will tell you the coolest experience we had was my senior year when we played outdoors at Fenway Park in the first women’s NCAA outdoor game in history.. That was really special. (Also playing in that game, for UNH, was future Pod teammate Michaela Long) But the best thing about my experience as an undergraduate at Northeastern are the friends that I made, and a couple of them are my best friends now. One of whom will be marrying me, she’ll be our ordained person.She was senior my freshman year. So it’s the relationships with my teammates I remember, and seeing them whe I come back for alumni events and reminiscing. That has to be the most special part of this whole college experience for me.”

 Lindsay continued her hockey career after graduation, initially with a four year stint with the Boston Blades in the CWHL. We mentioned recently seeing a photo of Lindsay with Blades Clarkson Cup Championship Team in 2013. She replied “If you i you find a picture of their first year ‘10-‘11, that was a pretty cool team too. I remember people like Angela Ruggiero walking into the locker room, and it was like Oh God, I can’t breathe! But you know you can skate with them, and after five minutes on the ice, everybody’s on the same page. We all just wanted to continue playing hockey, and we all just had a little different background. But we certainly had one common interest. That is a great time to look back on for me. My first year with the Blades was my fifth year of school. I was tinkering around with the idea of going abroad to play hockey, but there were rumblings of a professional team coming to Boston. So as soon as I heard about that, I wanted to be part of it. The playing abroad thing went out the window, and I’m so glad that I stayed. I met some awesome people in that first Blades year. Jess Koizumi probably also talks about how that was a really special group, and we just had the best time together. So yeah, ‘13 was cool because we won the Clarkson and that was awesome, but I feel that we should’ve won that first year with what we had. Butwe did have a great time. It was just such a great experience because you played with 19 or 20 other girls, and we’d all been playing against each other for the last for five years! We just had a couple of older players like Ruggiero and Kehoe, whom.we never overlapped with on the ice because of our ages difference. We all came together, rivals now playing together, players from BU,BC, a huge UNH contingent, teams we hated playing against. And now we were in the same locker room and we had an amazing time together. So I I had a great experience in the CWHL. I was just happy to continue playing, and again, meeting new people. And this is funny thinking of it, but even some girls I went to national camp with, and then played against in college, were now my teammates once again in the CWHL. That kind of cycle is just crazy:)” 

Time flies, and Lindsay is entering into her ninth season as an NCAA hockey coach. She actually began that coaching career about the same time she began to play professional hockey. So we asked a Lindsay how it all began, and rphow it has developed over the years. She explained “I don’t know if I knew what I wanted to do yet but I knew I wasn’t ready to leave the game upon graduating. It was amazing that I could still play, and to be honest, the coaching job at UMass-Boston kind of fell into my lap. it wound up being an awesome fit. I loved it immediately so I stuck with it.I was an assistant for a head coach who was very supportive of me continuing my playing career, so she kind of let me do both. If I didn’t work for Colleen Harris those first three years, my career could be completely different. She was amazing and we worked really well together. I think that was the perfect way to start my career while continuing to,play. The overlapping schedules are challenging, with sometimes coaching and playing on the same day. And you have to make tough decisions, which is good to do as a 22-24 year old, when you do have that option to still be playing and coaching.it is not always there later on.” 

After leaving UMass,for a year to coach at Brown University, Lindsay got an unexpected chance to return, as head coach. Lindsay explained ”Colleen Harris left UMass the next year, So the AD at the time called me and asked if I’d be interested in returning as head coach. I don’t know if there’s ever a time that you actually admit to yourself you’re ready for it. So I thought about it and I wasn’t sure that I was ready, but said I’ll try and it certainly worked out. Lindsay reflected and added, “As an assistant coach I was not necessarily planning to be a head coach. I know some assistants do, but I did not. it’s not a given. I was just trying to do the best I could on my own job. I don’t think you always realize what you’re learning and taking him from the head coach. I think I was naturally taking in what I wanted and leaving what I did not. A lot of my first years as a head coach were learning, and being honest, and admitting to my players that we are in this together. I’m going to make mistakes and so are you and we will get through this together. And I feel that once we establish that kind of trust then, they were on board.”

Lindsay continued and her narrative brought us back again to season one with the Pod. “UMass was my first head coaching job, and I came in kind of late. It was August I think, so most of the girls had been trickling in and there was a good month or two where they didn’t know who the head coach is going to be. As you can imagine that was unsettling for a lot of them. So my first order of business was that I had to find an assistant coach. I talked Alyssa Wohlfeiler (my teammate with the Huskies and the Whale) into coaching with me, We had a great time together and we won our first championship as a program that year too. And that was actually the first year of the Whale as well. I had broken my leg in the second game in Buffalo, so it turns out I broke my leg the night before my first day as a head coach. I think it was in the second.period. I’ve never been injured before so I didn’t know what happened. It hurt but I didn’t really think it was a break. We went to the hospital and got x-rays that night. They told me it was broken, and said to stay over for surgery and I’m like: No way, I’ve got to get back to Boston! So they essentially wrapped me up in an Ace bandage and I kept it elevated for the eight hour drive. It was my Dad whomended up driving me back to Boston. The next morning my Dad came back and picked me up for practice. I went into my AD’s office on crutches started coaching practice from the bench for the next three months. I was so nervous about my first day, on October 16th. I want to children’s hospital after that practice the first day and they casted it, and set a Wednesday surgery date. So it was back to work on Monday, on crutches on the bench. Wolfie really had her work cut out, since I needed her to demonstrate everything. She had to be the on ice person. It was hard for sure, looking back on it. I feel like I learned a lot though. I get choked up thinking about my players and how much trust they must have had in me, to be coaching from the bench and just be listening to me because ai could’nt show them. But most of them knew me from two years prior. So to go on to win in that year we had to deal with, was something special”

Moving on to talk about the origins of her present position ar Northeastern, Lindsay explained “The Northeastern position actually. came up after my third year at UMass. I had been there for six total seasons but last summer I got a text from Head Coach Dave Flint who asked me to call him when I got a chance. it was kind of random, on a Sunday, and I kind of had a feeling it was about that someone had left. I had interviewed for this position before, and looking back I realize I wasn’t ready. I’m glad Dave told me that, but he also said that I’d be the first one he’d call when there’s another opening. He said to put my time in and learn as much as I can, and he was sure would have this conversation again very soon. But I thought to myself, well don’t read too much into this, he may be just calling about an alumni event. So I called him and he got right into it and said Jeff Pellegrini is leaving and he’d love for me to take the spot. He said he knew I had a great gig over at UMass, and to take my time and think on it and let him know. So it was not an automatic for me that I’d take it, I had a good job I liked.”

Lindsay added this about her coaching resume and her decision “The UMass job for example, opened up because the coach went to Princeton, so that job kind of fell into my lap. The position at Brown University I applied for obviously, but then Colleen Harris leaving UMas ( with an illness) was an unfortunate situation that I’ve benefited from,which was a little hard for me because we were so close. The Northeastern job was just great timing.I really wasn’t ready to leave UMass Boston.We were starting to get get good players in, and the program was in a good place.I had literally poured my heart and soul into it, so it’s hard to just walk away from that. Not to mention the conversations that I had with recruits and their parents. They’d ask if I was going to be there and my answer was always: I am not applying for any other jobs, I have no plans on leaving. That was the truth but then I do leave, so that made for a couple of pretty tough phone calls. I called each of my players individually which was hard. They were scattered, as it was summer. But I met with Jane Morrisette, she was the first one I met with since she was around campus. So we had coffee and I broke the news to her that way. I was able to meet with like three or four other players after that, then the rest were on the phone.That was an exhausting four days or so that it took to get to everyone. I asked them not to tell their friends, and could they please just keep this to themselves, to make sure that it comes direct from me to each player. I didn’t want it that players found out in a text or something like that. I got to the last player and I had asked them all if that heard anything. They all said honestly no, they hadn’t heard, so that was pretty cool. I don’t regret the decision at all,and I’m having an awesome time at Northeastern. Dave Flint is amazing to work for and I’m learning a lot from him.He’s just a great boss and a mentor and the rest of our staff is just great to be around, and the players are awesome. It’s pretty cool to be a part of their lives,especially since I’ve kind of lived the same one here, so it’s been really fun.”

When Lindsay mentioned learning from Dave Flint, it occurred to Cetacean Nation to ask about the coaching influences in her life. She recounted “ It starts with Coach Kush my coach with the Washington Pride. He only coached me for three years, but I met him when I was 11, so I’ve been with him a long time. He’s always been just such a great sounding board, and he’s very smart and always has our best interest at heart. He knows what’s best for his players because he gets to know us as people. And he’s consistent, he’s the same all the time, I think that’s important. I don’t want my players ever guessing what are they are going to get for me. And obviously his hockey knowledge is unreal so I really learned a lot from Coach Kush. And then going into Northeastern Marge Schuler was the complete opposite of Kush, just completely different styles. I loved the energy she brought,and she was just very motivating.I think about her every day and about what I’m going to bring every da to my team. And actually my boss now, Dave Flint, I prayed for him for one year, because he was with the Olympic team one year, and I didn’t realize just how much I took from him until I came back to work for him last year. Things that I heard him say on the bench or in a meeting to the team, were things I’ve been saying the last seven or eight years in coaching so that was pretty cool revelation, I really had no idea:) So although the biggest influence in my life would be my Dad, in coaching those three left a lasting mark for sure and I’m still in touch with all three of them which is awesome.” Cetacean Nation noted that Northeastern was ranked 4th in the Nation pre-season, so we asked Linsay about her outlook for this season. She replied “We graduated a couple of good players and some really good leadership, so we will miss those personalities in the locker room for sure. But we brought in some really good players (none of that I had anything to do with they had actually committed for a few years) but I do get to reap the benefits of them arriving:) We have high expectations but we also know that after winning the Hockey East Championship last year, everyone will be gunning for us. We will get everybody’s best and we’re trying to send that message to the players that we can never take a night off. Not that we ever thought we could before, but especially now.I’m watching them right now as we speak at a captain’s practice and it’s so different. All of these girls are so good and they want to be here at this level.They just want to get better. And practice hard against each other. It’s just a little bit different now. “

And one of those different, talented players she has coached is our new #7 Jane Morrisette now a member of the Pod, just as her coach had been.Lindsay offered us some great remarks about Jane which appear in Jane’s interview on this website, and here is some more of what Coach Berman had to say about J-Mo. “I’ve known Jane a long time, I heiped to recruit her to UMass Boston. She showed me an email I had sent her after she said she was coming to school there. It was so funny just how excited we were to have a player of her caliber and the type of a person she was and also a local kid. We couldn’t wait to have herL So it’s really funny to see that email, and that she still had it.Jane is a phenomenal kid, she she has this raw God-given talent that not everybody has and I think it took her a little bit to realize that she had it. But once we kind of uncovered all these tools she finally put them all together and had a couple of really good years for us. Playing after she finished school was something she always wanted and she always expressed. I don’t know if she believed that it could happen but she kind of asked me every once in a while: Do you think I could keep playing? I knew that she could because I had played in both of the leagues the kid can skate with anybody. She’s one of the best skaters you’ll ever see, it’s just so fluid and so effortless.I was just hoping to install the confidence in herself and getting to her to bring her teammates along, and she became a phenomenal leader. We all go through that maturing process in college,and it was really fun for me to watch Jane grow from a high school kid and player to a college hockey player, who works and plays and balances her friends. She was there for her teammates, and she was an all encompassing student athlete. It was really really fun to be a part of her career and to kind of help her move on and continue playing and also now to coach which is what she also wanted it’s awesome, I learned a lot about myself and coaching through Jane”

Lindsay offered some great insight into Division III players as well, with a spot on Whale reference as she concluded her remarks about Jane, saying ”I am really excited for Jane, I think she’s going to open a lot of eyes. She probably has a D3 tag on her right now, and I can’t wait for everyone to see how good she is. I think a lot of growth and development happens with the players in college,For example, maybe someone like Emily Fluke wasn’t ready as a junior in high school, but she is now. I didn’t know her as a player at that point in her career, but I think it’s really cool that the D3 players get to show their stuff in the NWHL too. I think a lot of D3 players need to be just given a chance like an Emily Fluke or Jane Morissette, and this gives them an opportunity and they’ll run with it.” Cetacean Nation thanks our amazing OW #10 Lindsay Berman for sharing her story with us. We wish her luck against foe this upcoming season, and hope to be able to pick her brain again in the future. Fins Up Coach ‘Berm!