Girls soccer coaches Lauren Diaz, left, joins Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, and Brooke Trotta, right, heads to Mater Dei Prep, Middletown. Courtesy photos
Girls soccer coaches Lauren Diaz, left, joins Notre Dame High School, Lawrenceville, and Brooke Trotta, right, heads to Mater Dei Prep, Middletown. Courtesy photos
" I want them to know I care more about them than how they perform while playing. I am a competitive person and understand the importance of winning, but I feel the wins will come once they know that we care about them as a coaching staff. "

Lauren Diaz’s first high school head coaching job is in the county in which she grew up playing. Brooke Trotta has taken it one step further, as her first head varsity position is at her alma mater.

The two women are the new faces of their respective girls soccer programs, as Diaz takes over at Notre Dame of Lawrenceville, while Trotta assumes the reins at Mater Dei of Middletown.

Diaz grew up in Mercer County, earning All-County honors for Hamilton High West, which was in the same conference as Notre Dame. After making All-New Jersey Athletic Conference for three years at Kean University, she got a teaching job at West Windsor-Plainsboro South in Mercer. For the previous nine years she served as either boys varsity assistant for WW-PS, or girls freshman and JV coach. 

Diaz remains a teacher at West Windsor but is thrilled to land a head varsity position at a school that she played against while with Hamilton.

“It is great to be able to come back and coach in the county I played in,” Diaz said. “Mercer County soccer has played such a big role in my life, not just as a player but as a person as well. Some of the best memories and friendships were made on the fields [where] I get to go back and coach. I was fortunate to have great coaches while I was here, and I hope to be able to give that back.”

Diaz added that after years as a sub-varsity coach, she began hoping the right opportunity would present itself to take over her own program. 

“I enjoyed the experience I gained in my previous coaching positions, but when the opportunity to coach the girls at Notre Dame became available, I knew it was time,” she said. “After coaching lacrosse there last spring, I was impressed by the passion of the student athletes and administration, and I knew I wanted to stay.” 

Trotta is a 2015 Mater Dei graduate and played for the Seraphs 2011 NJSIAA Non-Public B state champion and 2012 Shore Conference Tournament champ. Brooke went on to play four years at Division I St. Peter’s University, Jersey City, while earning a degree in biology, then earned a nursing degree at Felician University, Rutherford. She has been Mater Dei’s JV girls basketball coach since 2019.

“Being back at my alma mater is something that I knew I always wanted to do if I was ever to coach,” Trotta said. “Coaching is something that I’ve always wanted to do, but I never thought I would be so lucky to coach two teams at MDP. Mater Dei is a place I hold near and dear to my heart. It is still like a second home to me. I never realized how lucky I was to attend such an amazing school that is not only family, but also played a huge role in making me the person I am today.”

Part of who Trotta is lies within her strong relationship with God. She attended St. Mary School from kindergarten to eighth grade and has been a member of St. Mary, Mother of God Parish in Middletown since childhood.

“My faith is a huge part of my life,” Trotta said. “Faith is something that has allowed for me to keep going when times were tough, and I’m sure we can all relate, considering the past year-and-a-half we have had with COVID-19. Not only that, but I thank God that I have been blessed to not only play the sport that I have loved for 20 years, but now to be able to pass along my knowledge and skills to these girls. Without my faith I’m not sure where I would be today. I am truly blessed.”

Diaz feels likewise, having played CYO soccer for St. Raphael’s-Holy Angels Parish in Hamilton, where she has long been a member.

“I am Catholic, and it means a lot to me and my family,” Diaz said. “It also means a lot to my husband and me. We were married at Our Lady of Sorrows [in Hamilton] this past spring.”

Diaz inherits a team that went 5-3 during a COVID-shortened season, and the Irish have been one of the Colonial Valley Conference’s stronger programs in recent years. Trotta takes over a team that went 4-7 and has not enjoyed a winning season since 2013, her sophomore year.

Both coaches, however, realize that being a head coach means more than just winning games.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned while being around different coaches in my career is you need to establish connections with your players beyond the sports field,” Diaz said. “I want them to know I care more about them than how they perform while playing. I am a competitive person and understand the importance of winning, but I feel the wins will come once they know that we care about them as a coaching staff.”

Trotta feels the same way.

“You don’t realize until after it is all said and done how much a coach plays a role in your life on and off the field,” she said. “As a coach, it is your job to teach your players the importance of being a team player, a leader, someone you can depend on whether it is on the field or off it. You need to let them know that nothing is handed to you in life, you need to work for it. I was lucky enough to have amazing coaches throughout my whole life who taught me all these things. I hope by the end of the season that not only have my girls gained soccer knowledge and skills, but have learned the importance of teamwork, leadership, hard work and determination.”

Trotta learned the importance of helping teammates during her playing days and has taken that caring spirit into her professional life – currently as a registered nurse in the Trauma Unit at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune. She hopes to eventually link her “real” job with coaching.

“Helping others is something that I love to do – whether it is through my nursing career, nursing people back to health, or helping others learn the game of soccer,” Trotta said. “Being able to teach these girls all that I have learned throughout my career of soccer is something that I enjoy doing.

“Watching your players grow and learn and put together the pieces that you have taught them is truly amazing,” she continued. “One day I hope to become a school nurse and continue my coaching career.”