By Desirée Keegan
On her wall in her office, Smithtown West girls’ lacrosse coach Carrie Bodo has an old photo of one of her Hofstra University teams posing for a group photo, with her lying on the turf field.
Her girls asked her several times about the significance of it. Bodo said her Pride team had never beaten the University of Delaware, and that photo was taken after the first time the team had done it. She has wanted to replace that photo for a long time now. Her Bulls team had also never beaten Northport, so she told the girls that if they did this season, she’d swap out one winning photo for another.
The Bulls made a goal, and achieved it, outscoring Northport 11-7 on April 29, and Bodo took a photo lying down on the turf field with the girls behind her. The girls also had a goal to win the school’s first ever Suffolk County title. Although the team fell one goal shy, dropping the county title game to West Islip, 9-8, in the school’s first appearance in the finals, the team had a postseason success that made all the hard work of a 15-2 season all the more worth it.
The Suffolk County Girls Lacrosse Coaches Association named Bodo the Suffolk County Division I Coach of the Year. She was also named Smithtown Central School District’s Coach of the Year. Although earning the recognition, she was more excited for her team than herself.
“They wanted it for me more than anything,” she said. “For me, anything I get is truly because of them. It was nice because they were so excited for it.”
Before coming to Smithtown in 2006, Bodo was the head women’s lacrosse coach at Hofstra University for 14 years, and was also the field hockey coach for almost half of her time there. She had played lacrosse since she was in seventh grade, and even played for Hofstra, before becoming a graduate assistant on the team and taking over the helm when she was just 24 years old. When the time came to choose which sport would be her focus, the decision was easy.
“The sport is such a part of me,” she said. “The big joke is I’ve never had a spring break since seventh grade. It goes to show how much I love it. I love everything about the game. I love playing it, I love watching the girls, and being with the girls, seeing them achieve, seeing them go to college.”
Although leaving the sport briefly when she had children — two boys — she began teaching and was soon asked to take over the West team when the school split. Her athletes are happy she agreed to take over the program.
“When it comes to the game, she is smart and always gives us so much motivation to win. One thing that I love most about her is that she loves to have fun and she has a big heart. Even when we lost, she would tell us to keep our heads up and always have a positive outlook.”
— Kayla Kosubinsky
“I have to say I’ve never had such a good relationship with one of my coaches, both on and off the field,” said Kayla Kosubinsky, who has played under Bodo since eighth grade, but knew her from back when she would attend the booster club camp that her coach runs every year. “Bodo has impacted Smithtown lacrosse just like she did when she coached Hofstra. When it comes to the game, she is smart and always gives us so much motivation to win. One thing that I love most about her is that she loves to have fun and she has a big heart. Even when we lost, she would tell us to keep our heads up and always have a positive outlook.”
This sort of parent-daughter relationship she’s created with her girls is crucial to Bodo and her players, and is an integral part in the team’s success.
“We have this joke that I’m their mom,” Bodo said, laughing. “They always call me mom, and I call them my family. I love that part of it more. Just hearing about their boyfriends, and the prom and that kind of stuff. It’s that girl atmosphere I don’t get in my personal life. That’s what makes us closer as a group.”
Although it took some years to get the Bulls to the level they’re at now after the school split, nine of the 12 starters from last year’s squad committed to play lacrosse. The younger kids in the area are seeing the older ones’ success, and want to emulate that, something Bodo hears at camp over the summer.
For players like senior Mackenzie Heldberg, who committed to play at Johns Hopkins University, leaving a coach like Bodo is bittersweet, but she will always be appreciative of what her longtime coach has done for her.
“I couldn’t ask for a better coach — she has taught me so much about not only lacrosse, but life, and has helped me develop into the player I am today,” said Heldberg, who played for Bodo for five years, but knew her for eight because her older sister also played for the Bulls. “As our coach, she always pushed us to our fullest potential and I dedicate our success this year to her, for she was the glue to our team. Having Bodo get this recognition is so heartwarming and amazing because she deserves it. This team has improved tremendously since I’ve been a part of it and the common denominator of it all is Bodo. She led us with pride and fearlessness to a county game and I couldn’t be happier I’ve gotten to play under someone as amazing as her.”