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First-time head coach Dorton takes reins of Riverton girls lacrosse



PROVO, Utah – Coaching may be a newer endeavor for Jocelyn Dorton, but it’s been a longtime goal for the former player.

So when she got the head coaching job of the girls lacrosse team at Riverton High School, she was ecstatic. Not only is she new to the school, but she is helping the program in its early stages.

While Dorton has spent a good chunk of her career playing the game, she said she always knew where she wanted to go.

“Lacrosse has been such a big part of my life, and I knew I’d eventually have to stop playing,” she said. “The only way I felt like I could still be involved in this sport is to coach.”

That passion for lacrosse and coaching wasn’t lost on the Riverton administration. Athletic director Daniel Henderson said he thinks she is one who will help the program get going since its inaugural season saw cancellation because of COVID-19.

“We felt like she had that motivation, that desire to continue,” he said. “There’s good lacrosse in this area for boys and girls, some enthusiasm for it, and we felt like she was the right one to lead the way and get that moving in the right direction.”

Dorton got her start at Timpview High School in Provo before playing women’s lacrosse at the University of Utah. After about a year, she suffered a whiplash injury, forcing her to quit.

It was this incident that led her to start pursuing coaching. She and a friend began a club team in the Kaysville area in 2018. By the spring of 2019, she got a job coaching junior varsity at Skyline High School.

When the Riverton job opened, she decided to take a chance because she believed her experience would help her get the job. She also knew some of the girls on the team because they played for her on the club team.

One of the aspects Dorton enjoyed the most upon arriving at Riverton was the character of the student-athletes on the girls lacrosse team.

“A lot of teams can be cliquey,” she said. “High school girls can just be mean sometimes, but they are just so inclusive and welcoming, and they are all just best friends with each other. So I think that’s my favorite part about Riverton, specifically the culture the girls have there.”

With this foundation, Dorton said there isn’t much she needs to add to the culture. Although she does want the players to be classy on the field and play clean.

Dorton’s early efforts in coaching weren’t lost on the players. Senior Megan Davenport said she has enjoyed her time so far with Dorton.

“She gets along super with the girls,” Davenport said. “She balances having fun and work.”

While the team hasn’t been much of a challenge, the adjustment to being a head has, at times. Dorton said she’s had to adjust to realizing matches mean more than they have in the past.

“Coming into that has been kind of a struggle because it never had this kind of pressure on me as a coach before,” she said. “JV and club, it’s just a much different role. That’s something I’m working on, but again, it’s still really early in the season, so I’m hopeful.”

Still, Dorton has her sights set on winning a state championship and thinks her team has what it takes to win one. That goal, however, isn’t the most important one to her for this season.

Dorton said she hopes she can help her players feel the satisfaction of giving it everything they had. She said this is important to her since many returning players missed out on an inaugural season last year because of COVID-19.

To help her players overcome the cancellation of last year, Dorton has returned to the fundamentals to help the student-athletes shake off the rust. Even amidst a fundamental-heavy approach, Dorton said she’s noticed a positive response from the team.

“For the most part, I think they want this more than anything just because they didn’t get this last year,” she said. “So they’re super motivated. That also means they are working hard to stay safe so they can continue their season.”

Davenport said that motivation has come from Dorton and her positive talk and encouragement

“She told us earlier in the year, ‘You guys can be the state champions,’ and that means a lot from a coach that she has that much belief in us,” she said. “I really like how she really pushes us to do our best.”