New head coach for Dutch girls’ lacrosse: Chatnik steps aside, Britt steps up

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Moving on up: After four years coaching under Gary Chatnik at Guilderland — two seasons as the girls' junior-varsity lacrosse coach and two more as Chatnik's assistant on varsity — Carrie Britt was named the new varsity head coach last week. Chatnik stepped down a few weeks ago because his personal business will be taking more of his time; he has accepted a part-time volunteer position for the Dutch. Here, Britt coaches a few Guilderland players during a 2013 pre-season practice.

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland girls’ varsity lacrosse team has a new head coach, but she’s someone the players already know.

Last month, Gary Chatnik, who had been coaching the Dutch for 12 years, found out that his business, A Christmas To Remember, a growing chain of holiday stores, would require him to travel more. Chatnik still wanted to coach Guilderland, but realized that his work wouldn’t allow for a full commitment to the team.

With practice about to start for the 2014 season, and Chatnik recently stepping down, Guilderland athletic director Regan Johnson had to act quickly. He gave the head coaching position to Carrie Britt, who had assisted Chatnik for the past two years, as well as previously coached the junior varsity team.

“There are 20 or more girls that want a successful season, so this is the best situation,” Johnson said. “Britt has coached every one of these girls.”

Chatnik coached Guilderland to 196 victories and five Section 2 Class A titles (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013). Last June, he was inducted into the United States Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Chatnik told The Enterprise that he’d still be involved with Guilderland lacrosse as a volunteer.

Pleased to have Britt as the next head coach, Chatnik says that the Dutch are in good hands. “I can’t be there all of the time,” he said, “but we won’t miss too much of a beat with Carrie.”

Britt, a 1993 Guilderland graduate, started playing lacrosse in 1989 on Guilderland’s first-ever girls’ lacrosse team. She went on to play at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute before graduating in 1997 with a Bachelors degree in building science.

Running Chatnik’s defense for the past two years, Britt says that she hasn’t had a year off from lacrosse since 1989. Before being hired as Guilderland’s junior-varsity coach in 2010, she was Shaker’s varsity coach until 2008.

“It’s an evolving game with rule changes and all kinds of stick technology,” Britt said. “We used to play with wood sticks.”

Chatnik said that the Dutch players were as supportive as they could be with his decision. The 2014 season was the only year in question, so Chatnik could end up coaching the team again, but he made sure to point out that success doesn’t come from just one person.

“She’s part of the group,” said Chatnik of Britt. “She’ll get the kids to respond; she’s been doing it for four years. She knows all the levels of the game.”

As defending champions, Britt will motivate Guilderland to play hard, Chatnik said.

“These girls are really talented,” Britt said of the Dutch players. “It’s hard to be a head coach, but I don’t mind stepping up.”

When a coaching position needs to be filled at Guilderland, Johnson will recommend candidates to the superintendent, who will, in turn, make recommendations to the school board. Then, the school board will vote. Because Chatnik’s decision came so late, Johnson had a very short time to interview people.

“It’s not like people were beating down the door,” Johnson said. “Britt has the skill set that the team needed, and we’re trying to minimize the transition as much as possible. She knows the inner workings, and has a wealth of knowledge.”

Britt, a history teacher at Mont Pleasant Middle School in Schenectady, was officially named Guilderland’s varsity coach on March 4 with the school board’s vote. Her assistant coach will be Gary Bohl.

Will Britt be running the offense or defense or both?

“I’m specialized in complicated defenses, but one coach needs to focus on offense while the other is tracking the defense,” Britt said. “We’re trying to break up the areas of autonomy, so, in games, it’ll depend on where we are.”

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