Meet Jen Fallon, head coach of the Chargers women’s lacrosse team, who is a former Inside Lacrosse Division II National Coach of the Year and is a fan of Connecticut’s pizza and the New York Yankees.
Aug 16, 2021
The lifeblood of the University of New Haven are the faculty and staff members who dedicate their lives to helping our students reach their goals. Periodically, we’ll introduce you to a member of the staff so you can learn more about them – beyond their day to day work.
Next up is Jen Fallon, who is preparing for her 16th season as head coach of the University’s women’s lacrosse team, making her one of the longest-tenured coaches in the history of Charger athletics.
Renee Chmiel: What are some of the highlights of your own lacrosse career?
Jen Fallon: My experience playing lacrosse is a unique one. When I was recruited to Sacred Heart University, it was to play soccer. During my first year at SHU, they were in the process of starting a new lacrosse program. The coach, naturally, was looking to find a core group of athletes who could help get the program off the ground. Though I was reluctant at first, eventually I agreed to help out. You could say the reason I started playing was because all my friends were doing it. Not necessarily a great reason to do something, but it ended up being one that ultimately would change the course of my life.
Like most of the women on that first team, I had never played lacrosse before. In fact, I had never even seen a game. But our coach was an incredible teacher and motivator, and she took a team of inexperienced athletes and developed us into a team who, our senior year, managed to win the ECAC Championship. I have so many incredible memories and friendships because of my athletic experience. It is most certainly because of my college experience that I have pursued my career as a coach and continued to work in this industry.
RC: Tell us about your first job.
JF: I spent my first year out of college as a graduate assistant for the men’s soccer team at Sacred Heart. I was one of a very few women working with an NCAA men’s program at the time. This one year taught me more about myself than the 22 leading up to it! As a third assistant to legendary coach Joe McGuigan, I was dying to be exposed to all the things that went on behind closed doors. I learned really quickly that the job involves so much more than just practice and games.
After just a few weeks the head coach allowed me to go out on the road recruiting, and he had me run a few practices on my own while he sat on the bench and observed. He essentially pushed me into the water without a life vest, and while I was sure I was going to sink, I somehow managed to at least keep my head above water. Those few sessions and his trust in my opinions about potential players really helped develop my confidence. I also got to hang out with the rest of the coaching staff and get the real inside scoop on living a coach’s life. It was a ton of fun, and I have many, many great memories from that time!
RC: What do you like the most about living and working in Connecticut?
JF: I come from a big family. I have six siblings, and we all live within a five-mile radius of each other. Living and working in Connecticut has allowed me to be around for my parents as they age and to see all of my nieces and nephews grow up! My siblings are truly my best friends, and they are the primary reason I have stayed here. Aside from that, my husband Jamie and I live on the beach, and we both love Connecticut pizza, and the change of seasons can’t be beat – of course with the exception of winter, which will eventually drive us out of here!
RC: If you could go back, what advice would you give to yourself when you were in college?
JF: I think if I could go back, I would advise myself to expand my network of friends and to connect with people outside of my athletic circle. I would definitely tell myself to get to know my grandparents better, and to value my education and the opportunity to go to class.
RC: What professional sports teams and athletes do you follow?
JF: I love watching sports, but really the only team I consistently follow is the Yankees. I was born in the Bronx and my dad is a big Yankee fan, so I grew up loving what he loved. Derek Jeter is my all-time favorite athlete, followed closely by Mia Hamm and Magic Johnson. I admire their grit, the way they led their teams, the way they addressed the media and fans, and how they competed. They are all winners.
RC: What kind of music do you like?
JF: I love all types of music, but I mostly listen to country music. Kenny Chesney is my favorite because I love live music, and he’s the best performer!
RC: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement as a coach, so far?
JF: I think consistency is such a great achievement. Maintaining a certain level of continued success, having consistent expectations of our student-athletes and of our program, consistently being involved in our community and continuing to be a consistent presence in the lives of my alumni are things I continue to strive toward every day!