GPS Athletic Director Jay Watts can now add Women’s National Lacrosse Coach to his résumé. In fall 2017, Watts responded to a recruitment announcement for a head coach for Poland’s Women’s National Lacrosse Team, an arena in which he’s had expertise. By February he had been named to the position.
This is not Watts’ first foray into international sports; he was a dedicated host volunteer during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He also represented US Lacrosse, the national governing body of men and women’s lacrosse in the United States, in Prague before the FIL Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in 2009. At that time, lacrosse in the Czech Republic was relatively new. “In the back of my mind, I thought it would be cool to be part of an up and coming sport in another part of the world,” he says.
Watts volunteered with US Lacrosse from 2001 to 2017, serving on the Board of Governors for the Women’s Division of US Lacrosse from 2005 to 2009. He chaired the organization’s Safety Education Committee and was a member of the US Lacrosse rules committee for six years. He also served on the National Federation of High Schools Girls Lacrosse Rules Committee for eight years, working as the chair of the committee from 2011 to 2015.
GPS added lacrosse to its varsity sports lineup in 2005, fielding the first girls’ team in Chattanooga. This year, in addition to his responsibilities as athletic director, Watts will serve as Varsity Head Coach for GPS lacrosse. It’s a role he’s excited to return to after an impressive showing in the sport in the Atlanta area, where he coached at Westminster for 19 years.
As a high school coach in Atlanta at Westminster, Watts was selected as the Georgia State Coach of the Year five times and Area Coach of the Year 11 times in lacrosse. He was selected as Georgia Lacrosse Foundation Man of the Year in 2006 and elected to Georgia Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2007. His teams won nine state tournament championships and were one of the 10 winningest programs in the United States during his time there.
Watts left the United States on August 6, and he returns from Katowice, Poland, in time for the start of the 2018-19 school year at GPS. He will likely return to Poland for more training in the spring. Then June 18-27, 2019, he will coach the Polish Women’s National Team at the European Lacrosse Championships in Tel Aviv, Israel. In his absence, the Polish women’s team members will continue to refine their game in club league play. “We are adapting to the available resources they have and finding how to be most effective,” Watts says. “The end goal is to compete in the next World Cup in 2021 and hopefully see women’s lacrosse become an Olympic event.”