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Getting to Know ... Lacy Gilbert

Lacy Gilbert is the Wesleyan girls soccer coach and is coming off a record season that saw the Wolves reach their first Final Four.

Gilbert was a member of Providence Christian's first graduating class and after getting her degree from Georgia Southern, took a job at a fledgling Wesleyan School. She has been at the Norcross private school for the last 12 years as a P.E. teacher and coach.

For this installment of "Getting to Know ...." Gilbert took some time to talk to staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including her global adventures, growing up in the Atlanta area and iron throwing.

CT: Except for college, you've lived in the metro area.

LG: My whole life. I grew up in Stone Mountain and Decatur. Then went to college, came back and lived in Duluth and Norcross. I live a mile from here now. Which is awesome.

CT: How much has the area changed?

LG: When I was at DeKalb Christian Academy, which was down on Lavista Road in Atlanta, I remember driving out - I think it was for a bible study or something - driving out to Gwinnett County and thinking that I had driven to South Carolina.

CT: What was your first car?

LG: I bought my first car when I graduated from college, the summer before I started teaching here. But my family struggled financially growing up, so we had a lot of cars given to us and they were usually really old. I learned to drive on a Toyota Corolla, six shift. My brother and I shared it with my mom.

But even when I was in college, I was student teaching 30 minutes away from college and I didn't have a way to get there. So my brother's friend at Auburn had a Jeep and a car and he let me have his car to use for that semester. It didn't have a fifth gear and no radio so I had a boom box sitting in there. A 'boom box.' That ages me.

And then my sister totaled my first car that I bought. But I've been OK since then. Now I have a 4Runner and it's paid off and I'll drive it until it dies.

CT: What kind of music do you listen to most often?

LG: I have a variety. My favorite all-time band is U2 and I'm actually going to their concert in October. I've never seen them in concert, so I'm very excited.

But I am very eclectic. I listen to everything. Not as much country, but I listen to a lot of rock and classic rock and some Christian music and rap actually. Whatever I'm in the mood for. Some '80s and old-school rap.

CT: Is there an actor or actress that you'll see in anything?

LG: There's not necessarily just one, but I love Matt Damon, I love Will Smith, Reese Witherspoon. I mean, Brad Pitt, you just can't go wrong there.

But my favorite movies are like 'The Shawshank Redemption,' 'Hotel Rwanda,' 'Blood Diamond.' I love Africa.

CT: Have you been?

LG: Yeah, I've been twice and I'm going to South Africa in about a week and a half.

I've been to Egypt and Tanzania on mission trips. Actually in Tanzania, I went with the school, with six students and we lived in the bush in tents for two weeks. We had river water, there were animals everywhere. I shared a tent with Anne Marie Armstrong the whole time. We had a blast.

CT: What did you guys do there? Did you have a specific thing you were working on?

LG: We were working with this bush community. They didn't have any, obviously, electricity or buildings anywhere. We helped build their first building. And then did some stuff with the kids, worked with the church, did some things in the community. It was a very cool trip. You could hear lions at night, there were baboons everywhere, crocodiles in the river. It was a wild experience being so far away from anything, but it was awesome.

CT: How long ago did you go to Egypt?

LG: Egypt I went probably about four years ago. I went with Perimeter Church. It was a mission trip to London and Egypt. Which Egypt was a whole different environment than I'd ever seen. Totally different culture. We were in the city, which is cool. We stayed right on the Nile river. But then we went and rode camels by the pyramids.

CT: Have you been overseas to other places as well?

LG: Yeah. It's funny, I didn't fly on an airplane until I was 24. Our family vacations were driving the car to St. Simon's growing up.

So I guess after my first year at Wesleyan, I decided I wanted to go on a mission trip and I decided to go to China with my church. And I'd never flown on a plane.

CT: That's a long flight to start with.

LG: I knew it was going to be long, so that Easter, a couple months before, I flew home with one of my roommates at the time, to Ohio, so I'd at least had a plane flight.

I went to China and the year after that, we started the missions program at Wesleyan, about 10 years ago. A group of six teachers went to Honduras that year and I was one of them. And now we've got over 200 kids going on mission trips.

So through Wesleyan, I've actually gone to Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, France, Romania, Ukraine, Germany. Tons of places. Dominican Republic, which is one of my favorites. It's been really cool.

All of those have been mission trips. I have traveled to the D.R. and Puerto Rico, and some other places, but most of my trips have been through Wesleyan.

CT: Does that amount to about one a year?

LG: Usually, every spring break I go and then the Tanzania trip was a summer one, the South Africa is a summer one. We went to New Orleans the summer after Katrina.

CT: Are the summer trips longer then?

LG: A little bit longer and we usually go to places it takes more to travel to get to. I think this one is 12 or 13 days. The spring ones, I guess they're nine days.

CT: Have any of those been soccer trips?

LG: None of them have been just a soccer trip. South Africa, we have a couple players going, but we're going to work with kids and actually after the fact, they asked if we would do a soccer camp. Next summer the World Cup is in South Africa, but this summer they have the Federation Cup. So they asked us to kind of get the kids excited for that, do this mini-camp thing.

CT: Is it easier going to a country where they speak English?

LG: Yeah. I speak some Spanish. All those trips (to Central and South America), it's pretty easy, you can get around. But like I went to Ukraine this past spring break and I think I learned like six Russian words. And the orphanage we worked in, none of the kids really spoke English. So we had a lot of translators. I took French in high school, but don't remember any of it. So those, it is a little harder.

So I'm really looking forward to South Africa.

CT: Did you play multiple sports at Providence?

LG: I played basketball and soccer. I played soccer year-round. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have played softball or ran cross country in the fall. But I was doing so much other stuff.

CT: What about college?

LG: My first year at Southern was kind of the year they were transitioning from a club team to a varsity team. So we traveled all around and played a lot in South Carolina, in Florida. And that was fun. I could have stayed and continued to play as it became a varsity sport my sophomore year, but I was just doing too many things. I was involved in campus ministry and had a lot going on. Looking back, I wish I would have kept playing. But at the time, I think it was the best decision.

CT: In college, you really have to pick and choose.

LG: I had to work, too. I was an R.A. for a couple years and I worked every year.

CT: I bet that was fun, being an R.A.

LG: Yeah. It was fun. I think it probably prepared me to deal with students. I had some crazy stories, but it was fun.

CT: Any story in particular stick out to you?

LG: You never knew what you were going to get. One day I came in and I had two of the girls in my hall fighting and they were throwing irons at each other. I had to break up that.

But then, on the serious side, I dealt with a student that tried to commit suicide, a student that was raped, so it was a wide range. I do think it did prepare me to be able to work with students on a daily basis.