Aly Messinger experienced great thrills in 2014 and 2016 when North Carolina captured NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championships.
The second time around, Messinger, the former Mendham High School star, was named the Most Outstanding Player. One year later, Messinger is on longer on the turf but is serving as an assistant coach for Navy.
"It's been awesome," Messinger said of coaching. "It's definitely different. It's a transition. There's a wonderful environment at Navy. I'm really enjoying it. I love the atmosphere and the lifestyle. I get to spread the sport I've loved and played for many years."
Messinger undoubtedly felt a little odd when the Midshipmen ousted second-seeded North Carolina from the 2017 NCAA Tournament with a 16-14 victory in the quarterfinal round. That victory earned Navy its first appearance in the NCAA semifinals.
Another highlight of Navy's season was its upset of Loyola to claim the Patriot League Championship. Prior to that, Loyola was 41-0 against Patriot League opponents.
There's no doubt Messinger, who had 149 goals and 81 assists as a four-year starter at North Carolina has had a major impact on Navy's offense in her first season on the sideline.
"The challenge of coaching is to get players to grow and develop," she said. "That's the best part of the job."
At first, Messinger, an exercise and sport science major with a concentration in sports marketing, wasn't sure if she wanted to coach. When the offer came from Navy head coach Cindy Timchal, Messinger decided to give it a try.
"I knew I'd regret it if I didn't coach," Messinger said. "The lacrosse world is small and there were a few openings. Cindy reached out to me and I went from there. It was the right choice. It's not time for me to leave the sport yet."
Messinger doesn't hesitate to join in at practices. Doing so keeps her connected and enables her to offer hands-on instruction.
"I play here and there," she said. "That's the nice thing about it. I fiddle with my stick and shoot around."
After the win over Loyola, Messinger was elated.
"Loyola had just won the conference so winning the tournament was super exciting," Messinger said. "It was a big, big win."