|Title:||Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach|
|High School:||Christian Brothers Academy|
|Previous College:||North Carolina '08|
|Years at Yale:||2019-20 is 5th Year at Yale|
Former US National Team member Erica Bamford (née LaGrow) was announced as Yale’s Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Lacrosse on July 1, 2015. She is the ninth head coach in the 40-year varsity history of Yale women’s lacrosse.
Bamford's first four seasons in New Haven have seen the Bulldogs make a number of strides. In 2019 the Bulldogs set the school record for draw controls (243) and finished with the fourth-most assists (89) and points (277) in Yale history. They improved their goals-per-game average by 17 percent compared to the previous season.
Bamford made an immediate impact on the Yale program. In her first season, 2016, the Bulldogs were in contention for a spot in the Ivy League Tournament until the final game, and they saw year-to-year improvements in their shooting percentage, free position shooting percentage, draw controls, clears and save percentage. In her second season, 2017, the team set the school records for goals in a season, points in a season and draw controls in a season. Yale also beat a ranked opponent for the first time since 2010. in 2018 the Bulldogs beat a pair of ranked opponents and had what was then the second-most draw controls in program history (230).
In Bamford's four seasons in New Haven, Yale has had:
- Two All-Region honorees
- One All-ECAC honoree
- 12 All-Ivy League honorees (one first team, five second team, six honorable mention)
- One finalist for the Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award
The Bulldogs have excelled in the classroom, earning the IWLCA Academic Merit Squad honor for the top GPA in the country in 2018 while also earning IWLCA Academic Squad recognition in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Yale has had a total of 37 IWLCA Academic Honor Roll selections under Bamford.
Prior to joining the Bulldogs, Bamford spent seven years as an assistant coach at Florida. She helped the Gators make five straight NCAA Tournament appearances, win five regular season conference championships and win three conference tournament championships. She also has a gold medal from the Women’s World Cup during her time playing with the National Team.
At Florida Bamford worked under former Yale head coach Amanda O’Leary, a US Lacrosse Hall of Fame member who has earned a pair of national coach of the year honors. Bamford was the Gators’ offensive coordinator and helped the team lead the nation in goals with 326 in her final season -- the fourth straight season the Gators scored at least 310 goals and finished in the top five nationally in scoring offense.
Bamford graduated with honors from North Carolina in 2008, earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science. She was a part of four straight NCAA quarterfinal appearances for the Tar Heels. In her senior season she scored 24 goals, was named second team All-South Region for the second time and was named first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference. A four-year starter at midfield, she was on the conference honor roll every year. She also earned All-ACC Academic honors twice, and received the University of North Carolina Athletics Director’s Scholar-Athlete Award for excellence in academics and athletics.
In addition to her standout collegiate career, Bamford was also a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2007-2012. In the summer of 2009, she helped the U.S. win gold at the Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s World Cup in Prague. Additionally, she was a member of the touring team that captured the 2008 Prague Cup.
Bamford is a native of Skaneateles, N.Y., and attended Christian Brothers Academy. Since 2004 she has been coaching at various levels, including four summers as a volunteer coach at the Star-Riders Lacrosse Club in Central New York. She also provided a five day multi-sport camp for school age children in rural Honduras in 2010, and has been an active member of the Big Brother Big Sister program since 2005.