After falling in love with the sport at an early age, Vanguard alumna and former Associate Head Coach Lauren Mascaro was promoted to the head of the women’s soccer program last December.
Mascaro first learned about soccer when the park near her house hosted local teams every weekend. In high school, she would claim the sport as her own, and it would eventually lead her to Vanguard.
Once her high school coach put her in contact with Vanguard’s team, Mascaro would spend undergrad playing soccer and earning her Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training. According to the Vanguard Lions website, she was a four-year starter and three-year captain, who still holds the records for most saves in a game, even though she primarily played center-back defense.
Upon graduation, Mascaro would go on to receive a Master of Science in Sport Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, but her journey with Vanguard was not complete. In 2010, she would returns an adjunct professor in the Kinesiology Department. She has since held multiple positions around campus, including Athletic Academic Advisor and Summer Bridge Coordinator, before settling in as the Associate Head Coach under Randy Dodge in 2014.
Not only did Mascaro play under Dodge when she was a student, but she has spent her time coaching at Vanguard under his guidance. Mascaro explained her desire to look forward building on his foundation now that he has transitioned to coaching solely the men’s soccer team.
“Randy Dodge has done a fantastic job elevating the VU Women’s Soccer Team to a level of national prominence,” she said. “I envision us building off that foundation and continuing to be a force within the Golden State Athletic Conference and in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes.”
Mascaro’s described her vision for the program as continuing to develop the student athletes into Christ-centered leaders. She aims to accomplish this through team service projects, Bible studies, leadership training, Champions of Character presentations and excellence in the classroom.
According to Mascaro, training on the field, time in the weight room, team-bonding activities, and fundraising are a few places changes will be seen starting this semester. She plans for better technical skills (such as “first touch on the ball”) and strengthening in the weightroom to improve the team’s strength and power, all while increasing mobility and preventing injury.
This knowledge and vision stems from many years of playing on the field and coaching from the sideline. Though Mascaro has coached soccer throughout Orange County, this transition from associate to head coach still left room for adjustment.
“It is very different to be the one in charge making the decisions and being held accountable for anything and everything that happens in the program,” Mascaro said.
But in addition to the new responsibilities that came with her promotion, Mascaro has also found those her personal life increasing as well. Since Mascaro’s promotion, she and her husband have welcomed a baby girl into their family. According to Mascaro, this newest addition has forced her to have to navigate the balance between coaching and being a mom.
“Coaching isn’t a 9-to-5, Monday-Friday kind of job. There are many late hours, early mornings, weekend games, and road trips, which make some things really challenging–like finding childcare,” Mascaro said.
Despite challenges, the Vanguard community has rallied around the family to help out when they need it. The coach explained that she has learned a powerful lesson through this experience.
“It is really about understanding what’s important and laying all of the stress of balancing everything at the feet of God,” Mascaro said.
Looking to the future of Mascaro believes that even though the coaching staff changes, each generation leaves a firmer foundation for the next to build upon. Far from ignoring the hard work of her predecessors, she said coaching includes trusting the players and coaches that came before her.
“Rather than focus on what’s changed or what’s the same, our focus is on what do we need to do to be successful,” Mascaro said.
Mascaro’s first season with the women’s team will begin this August, where the hard work and dedication can be proved on the field.