Meredith Frank turned any number of heads in her first season as girls lacrosse coach of Hingham (Mass.) Notre Dame Academy. At just 23, the debutant head coach led Notre Dame to the semifinals of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division I South tournament, an impressive achievement that followed an even more impressive 17-1 regular season. Considering the fact that Notre Dame was just 10-5-3 in 2010, those 17 wins were more than just a notable improvement.
Yet that success came with plenty of precursors: Frank spent 2010 as a graduate assistant at Northwestern University, which has won seven of the past eight NCAA national titles. Four of those titles were won when Frank was a Wildcats player, with the Massachusetts native earning three All-American honors in her time at the school as well.
While all of that may have eased Frank's path to success, the Boston Globe pointed to another source of her expertise from the other side of the dinner table: Her mother, Leslie Frank, is a longtime girls lacrosse coach at Westwood (Mass.) High. Leslie Frank has five state titles to her name, with the most recent coming Saturday in a 15-9 victory over Longmeadow (Mass.) High.
"We're each other's eyes," Meredith Frank told the Globe. "But there's more talk about our teams and how we can make our teams better. If I have a drill that I think might work for her, or vice versa, she'll give one to me. So we bounce ideas off each other. I don't think it's a huge rivalry between us. It's more how can we make each other better."
The trick is that going forward, the daughter may become the biggest challenger to her mother's regional dominance. While Notre Dame fell one victory short of setting up a mother-daughter Sectional Final this year, such a matchup seems like a likelihood in coming years. Making the budding rivalry all the more fascinating is that the two coaching Franks live together, again. When Meredith Frank returned to Massachusetts after graduating with a master's degree from Northwestern in January, she moved back into her childhood home with her parents as she took over the Notre Dame program.
At least the Frank family has some time before that faceoff happens. Because Westwood and Notre Dame don't compete in the same conference, they would only face each other in a playoff game or, if mother and daughter agree to it, a highly anticipated early season nonleague faceoff.
When the teams do meet, the elder Frank insists that her daughter holds a significant tactical edge because of her wealth of playing experience, while her daughter takes a back seat in terms of in-game coaching experience.
No matter how it eventually unfolds, one thing is certain: The person least happy about having to sit through such a matchup is Stuart Frank, Leslie's husband and Meredith's father.
"If I ever face my mother, she's a terrific coach with a very, very disciplined team," Meredith Frank told the Globe. "I have the utmost respect for her. We'll play [Westwood] hard if we ever got there. It will be very, very fun for me. Not so fun for my dad."