JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University Athletics announced the hiring of Tara Singleton as the new head coach of the women’s lacrosse program on Monday.
Singleton comes to JU from Johns Hopkins, where she served as defensive coordinator and director of recruiting since 2011 and was the Associate Head Coach for the past 10 years.
“We are ecstatic to welcome Tara to Jacksonville. When we set out on this search, we were looking for someone who would value the whole person. It was clear from our first conversation that Tara was going to care deeply about our young women,” said Senior Vice President/Athletic Director Alex Ricker-Gilbert. “She’s played and coached at the highest level and has spent more than a decade in one of the finest women’s lacrosse cultures in the country.”
“Jacksonville University women’s lacrosse will continue to ascend under Coach Singleton’s leadership.”
She takes over as just the second head coach in the history of the women’s lacrosse program at JU, signing a five-year contract to lead the Dolphins, her first full-time head coach opportunity after years of establishing herself as one of the top assistant coaches in the country.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the women’s lacrosse program and join the JU family,” Singleton said. “I would like to thank President Cost, Alex Ricker-Gilbert and every member of the search committee for trusting in my vision to continue the success of the program going forward.
“Jacksonville is an impressive university with even more impressive people and I can’t wait to be a part of it all!”
Not long after arriving at JHU, her reputation attracted suitors at a multitude of programs, leading to her promotion to Associate Head Coach. Her longtime boss and recently retired all-time winningest coach in JHU history, Janine Tucker, recalled how hard they worked to keep her with the Blue Jays. She said she knew early on that she was going to be a phenomenal head coach because of how she both coaches up and cares for players, seeing beyond the Xs and Os.
“I am thrilled for Coach Tara and JU lacrosse! They just hired a first-class coach, person and a role model who is passionate about her players and the game,” said Tucker. “I can’t stop smiling thinking about how lucky those players are.”
“I believe Tara will continue to build on what Coach Mindy [McCord] established and is a perfect next step for the program.”
Her impact on the players on- and off-the-field was integral to the extensive success of the Blue Jays during her time there, which spanned over a decade. Her defenses were nationally recognized, finishing in the top-30 in the country in scoring defense five times, and were 31st in the nation this past season. They led the Big Ten each of the last two seasons in caused turnovers, and were top-20 nationally both years. Since joining the Big Ten in 2017, the team was top-two in the league in scoring defense every season.
Fourteen players went on to earn First Team All-Big Ten honors, with two players from the 2021 team named All-Americans and the Big Ten Goaltender of the Year that year as well.
The defensive prowess started before the Big Ten move, with the team finishing eighth in the nation in scoring defense, seventh in save percentage and 25th in caused turnovers in 2015, leading the American Lacrosse Conference in defense in 2014 and 2015.
She started her coaching career at her alma mater, Loyola, spending one year there before moving on to UMBC. She oversaw the defense of the Retrievers for two years, and served briefly as the interim coach in spring of 2006. After that, she took an assistant coaching job with Denver, where she spent three seasons helping the Pioneers establish themselves as one of the winningest programs in the country. They compiled 36 victories from 2008-10, advancing to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship game twice.
The Baltimore native excelled as a player at Loyola, where she was a four-year letterwinner, starting her final two seasons and serving as a captain as a senior, when she was named a Second Team All-American. She helped lead the Greyhounds to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, advancing to the Final Four twice, while also capturing the 2022 Colonial Athletic Association title.
She led the team in caused turnovers her junior year, as part of the nation’s top-ranked defense, and was one of the national leaders again in CT as a senior. She was a member of the US National Developmental Team from 2003-05, was a World Cup Team candidate and a member of the US National Elite Team from 2007-08.