DARIEN — As the head coach of the Darien girls lacrosse program since 1994, Lisa Lindley has built one of the state’s longest-running dynasties, collecting 35 championships and nearly 450 wins.
Along the way, she’s coached numerous All-Americans and helped open the doors for many of her players to continue competing in the college ranks.
On Thursday, the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame announced that Lindley is one of eight inductees in its Class of 2020.
Lindley’s phone has been buzzing with texts and calls from former players throughout the day.
“The amount of texts that I’ve received today from former players has been overwhelming,” Lindley said. “Whether it’s a simple ‘congrats’ or ‘you’ve changed my life’ or ‘thank you for everything you’ve done,’ it’s incredible. I never really stopped to think about the effect that I’ve had on so many players, but they’re really appreciative.”
The induction ceremonies are scheduled for Oct. 17, at The Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Md.
The honor is well-deserved for Lindley, who is already in the US Lacrosse Connecticut Chapter Hall of Fame (2014) and UMass Hall of Fame (2016), and was inducted into the FCIAC Hall of Fame last spring.
“I’m humbled,” Lindley said. “As my assistant coach and really good friend Kerri (Iorfino) said, this is the ‘big enchilada.’ To be recognized by the highest authority on lacrosse is pretty cool. I’m just really humbled and thankful.”
Lindley’s Blue Wave teams have an overall record of 448-84 for a winning percentage of .842, and have won 17 state and 18 FCIAC championships in her 26 seasons.
Darien has won eight consecutive FCIAC titles, and has captured six state crowns in the past seven years, including last spring when the Wave defeated rival New Canaan, 12-6, in the Class L final. The Wave also had an eye-popping 107-game winning streak against Connecticut opponents from 2012 to 2018,
Lindley has coached nearly 80 US Lacrosse All-America players and more than 100 All-State players.
Getting players to buy into the culture of Blue Wave lacrosse has been a key to the program’s consistency.
“They have to buy into the system, the program, and the culture,” Lindley said. “It’s harder for some than for others, but whether they get it in the four years or they get it afterwards, they all eventually do. The lessons we try to teach them far outweigh the actual wins on the field.”
Lindley was a standout three-sport athlete in lacrosse, field hockey and basketball while at Simsbury High, and went on to become a collegiate All-American lacrosse player while at UMass. She was also a member of the 1989 US World Cup Team.
She began coaching at Darien 26 years ago, and the winning has continued ever since.
Beyond the victories, it’s the players from the program which have given her one of the greatest rewards, according to Lindley.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is that a lot of my former players have moved back to Darien and have settled in with their husbands and their families and they’re raising their own families within our town,” Lindley said. “They’re so supportive. It’s really something special for me to see them and how they’ve grown.
“Here I had taught them as teenagers and here they are as adults, being good parents and good people and contributing to society. It’s pretty cool to see.”