Former national champ Warden returns to JMU WLax as assistant coach

Published: Aug. 1, 2019 at 6:35 PM EDT
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One of JMU’s national-championship leaders is headed back to Harrisonburg, as Head Coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe announced the hiring of former James Madison All-American Haley Warden as an assistant coach for the lacrosse program on Thursday.

In her role, Warden will serve as the offensive coordinator and manage draw controls, an area in which she is the program’s all-time leader in.

“Haley and I won a national championship together, we are a great team,” Klaes-Bawcombe said.” Bringing Haley Warden back to lead this team is huge for our JMU program. Haley has an incredible lacrosse IQ, and she knows how to get the most out of her people. Haley bleeds purple and is committed to keeping our program at the top of the game. I love that about her and can’t wait for her to be a role model for our student-athletes. Her experience with the professional league and U.S. National Team will be huge in her mentorship of our student-athletes.”

“I didn’t feel like I was finished with JMU and wanted the opportunity to come back and make JMU a bigger name than it already is,” Warden said. “I’m super excited. It’s a great opportunity, because not only do I know the program very well, but I get to see the exciting new talent who have come in since I graduated and help develop them further.”

A 2018 graduate of JMU, Warden was a two-time All-American while playing for the Dukes from 2015-18. She became the first player in Colonial Athletic Association history to win both Player of the Year (2017) and Defensive Player of the Year (2018) while also being the first athlete to take home CAA Championship Most Outstanding Performer honors in consecutive seasons.

She helped lead JMU to its first national championship as a senior in 2018, earning NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Performer after scoring nine goals with 13 draw controls over Championship Weekend, which included netting the game-winner and gaining the final draw control to clinch the title for JMU. Warden is a three-time All-CAA selection, earning First Team honors in 2017 and 2018 and a Second Team award in 2016.

Warden finished her career with 101 goals and 33 assists, to go with 245 draw controls, 119 caused turnovers and 146 ground balls. She is JMU’s all-time career leader in both draw controls and caused turnovers while also ranking seventh in ground balls. She holds JMU’s top two spots in JMU single-season history in caused turnovers with 47 in 2017 and 45 in 2018. She’s also second and sixth, respectively with 108 draws in 2018 and 69 in 2017.

“Being able to understand the student-athletes on a deeper level than some other coaches is going to be an advantage for us,” Warden said. “Sometimes they need that coach who can help them through some of the struggles that I went through in previous years. Being able to help in that aspect is going to be great for team chemistry and help with the growth of our mental game and mindset.”

Following her collegiate career, Warden has played both at the professional and global level, playing for the WPLL Pride since 2018. During the 2019 season, she set the WPLL single-game draws record, with 11, to earn Player of the Week honors. She also spent time training with the U.S. Women’s National Team this past year.

Warden began her coaching career in the summer of 2017, serving as head coach for Ultimate Lacrosse Club. She also led Cardinal Lacrosse Club in summer 2019 and was an assistant coach for the Madeira School for the spring 2019 term. Warden also spent the fall 2018 semester at JMU as a volunteer assistant during the team’s fall season and off-season workouts.

Aside from coaching, Warden worked as a marketing intern for STX following her graduation from JMU and is presently an STX Athlete, creating and promoting content to grow the STX brand. She also appeared as the face of the Axxis promotional video. Most recently, Warden was working as a consultant at CapTech Ventures, Inc.