Lehigh freshman midfielder Cecily Redfern poses with her mom, coach Jill Redfern after practice at Goodman Campus on March 5. The pair's mother-daughter bond has grown stronger since Cecily joined the team. (May Naish/B&W Staff)

Lehigh women’s lacrosse gives new meaning to team-family dynamic


Many sports teams refer to themselves as families united by the same passion.

The Lehigh women’s lacrosse team, however, is home to several members whose connections go deeper than the sport they play or coach.

Jill Redfern is in her 10th season as head coach, and associate head coach Sammy Cermack is in her fourth. However, this year is unlike any other for either coach.

This season is the first for Jill’s daughter, freshman midfielder Cecily Redfern, as a Mountain Hawk. Sammy’s sister, freshman midfielder Hannah Cermack, joined the team after transferring from Boston College.

Lehigh freshman midfielder Hannah Cermack walks with her sister, associate head coach Sammy Cermack. Hannah tore her ACL earlier in the season, but Sammy is looking forward to playing a role in her return to the field. (Courtesy of Sammy Cermack)

Hannah is following in the footsteps of her sister Sammy, who was also a midfielder.

Prior to coaching at Lehigh, Sammy was a standout player at Johns Hopkins University, ranking ninth in Division I history in career points with 149 and goals with 98. She is seventh in the division in career assists with 51 and draws with 102. After graduating, she was selected by the Philadelphia Force in the first-ever United Women’s Lacrosse League Draft in 2016.

A year before being drafted, Sammy took on a coaching role at Lehigh. The team advanced to the Patriot League Championships in each of the three seasons she’s coached the Mountain Hawks and has made it to the semifinal round the last two years behind her leadership.

This season, the former Johns Hopkins star is looking to help lead the team to another year of success in the postseason but this time with her sister by her side.

“I love having Hannah as a player on our team,” Sammy said. “She’s one of my favorite people in the world, so it was kind of a dream come true.”

Hannah said she’s grateful for the chance to be coached by Sammy.

“I’ve always looked up to my older sister,” Hannah said. “We have a special dynamic and having the opportunity to play under her is awesome.”

However, Sammy will have to wait to coach her sister, who suffered from a season-ending ACL tear earlier this year. Though she’s disappointed, Sammy said she’s looking forward to Hannah’s return to the field.

“It’s going to be really special to be a part of her comeback,” Sammy said.

While this is Sammy’s first time coaching her little sister, Jill is no stranger to coaching her daughter.

As the coach of many of Cecily’s youth lacrosse teams, Jill said she is used to the dynamic and the similar relationship the two have formed both on the field and at home.

“Parenting and coaching have a lot of similarities,” Jill said.

Cecily said having Jill as a coach doesn’t change their mother-daughter bond. If anything, she said it’s brought the pair closer together, and it helps to get the chance to see her mom every day while many of her teammates don’t see their families for months at a time.

Sammy, however, said she notices a difference in her relationship with Hannah when they leave the lacrosse field.

“Our relationship is definitely less serious off the field,” Sammy said.

Although the pair save laughing and joking around for the sidelines, Sammy said they’re still able to loosen up on the field.

Cecily said she’s excited there’s another family duo on the team and that it’s Sammy and Hannah, who she played club lacrosse against prior to joining the Lehigh team.

“I think it adds to the culture of our team and makes it more special,” Cecily said.

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