Crista Samaras

Founder & CEO

A graduate of Princeton University, Crista was selected Rookie of the Year, was a three-time All American, three-time All Ivy League pick, two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, and still holds the record for number of career points at Princeton. Crista was on the US Women’s Lacrosse Team from 1995-2007 and competed in both the 2001 and 2005 World Cup Games winning gold and silver medals. In 2005, she was twice named Player of the Match (vs. Canada and England).

Crista coached at Yale University before she started her own lacrosse companies in 2004, which focused on empowering female players. In the next ten years, Crista coached thousands of junior women before she sold her teams in 2014. In 2012, she was the interim Head Coach at the University of Richmond and led the team from a #33 national ranking to a #13 national ranking in just three months. Her work with these players convinced her of the need for Bravery Training, not just for young women, but for everyone.

Crista Samaras.
1999.
New York City.
I am bold.
I am curious.
I surprise.
BE boom.

crista@morebrave.com

The Back Story

Crista Samaras

I grew up in Annapolis, MD. I am one of six Greek kids born to two high school sweetheart parents who played and were passionate about lacrosse. Lacrosse was the one activity (at least) four of us could do at the same time - even though our age gap spanned 10 years. And so, my mother dropped us off at the fields of Germantown Elementary School. We inherited a generational passion - all six of us played lacrosse in high school and in college.

 

I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a leader so when they offered the opportunity to coach the 6th graders, as a 7th grader, I jumped at the chance. That was the first time I started teaching; I knew I had found my place in the world. I would continue to maximize every opportunity to teach, guide, mentor and inspire people to be their best. At 11 years old, I was already finding better ways to translate and coach the skills that were most useful to me. That was when I started writing my own programming.

 

I grew to be a competitive player, aided tremendously by the sharpening of my understanding of the game through having to teach it. I attended and played for Princeton University and, at age 18, started my 12-year career on the US National Team. My first real business began in college, gathering middle school and high school girls in the Princeton area to attend weekend clinics that I organized and coached. It was here that I honed my marketing and advertising craft as well as my penchant for constituent management and community development.

 

After college - where I broke nearly every scoring record and became the first woman or man to score 50 goals in a season - I started two companies that I would sell 14 years later. Over the course of more than a decade, these programs grew rapidly, packed with over a thousand girls per year from elementary to high school aged girls who came to get better. It was equally important to me that they also learned to feel great about themselves through sport.  

 

I wrote original programming and facilitated and trained our coaches for our members in over 30 different states. I traveled to the UK to spread our programming abroad and spent two weeks in Japan - in five cities and many villages - coaching to girls who did not understand the language I was speaking (and whose language I did not understand). It was this experience where I expanded my technical and emotional coaching language.

 

Because of the successful grassroots development of our domestic programs, we were able to create a top tier national club called XTEAM. These girls were motivated and aimed to get recruited at the best schools in the country despite having limited resources and opportunities to learn, practice and compete. 

To pursue the top collegiate programs, I knew we had to increase their exposure and play the most competitive teams at the best tournaments. We had to play with the big dogs - compete against the best. The problem was, our girls were not even close to being competitive. We were losing 20-0 and we were losing our reputation as a formidable opponent. So, we beefed up our skills development. Then our strength and fitness development. Still 20-0.

 

It was then that I realized I needed to come up with something totally new to close the gap and give these badass girls the best chance at fulfilling their dreams.

 

I started with making them tougher. Then, I made sure they were equipped to work harder and longer than any other team.

 

Managing to do that, while ensuring they were happy, supported and still pursuing their purpose was a balancing act, but they were 100% bought in to the process and 100% bought in to me. They knew this was their way to compete against the best. 

 

My last strategy was to turn our risk tolerant team culture into a risk expectant team culture. This made the biggest difference in every way, but the work of getting the girls to face their fears was as intense as the results we experienced. This was the beginning of Brave Enterprises. 

 

We kept losing, but the scores looked a lot different. We were losing 5-3 and doing major damage on both their ability to score and their ability to maintain their power. We were able to find a way to squash momentum and to tire them out physically and, more importantly, emotionally. Our kids had confidence in the fact that bravery, grit, resilience and purpose could be the differentiator. And, we saw over and over again that it was.

 

Year after year, we began to be known as the grittiest club. Coaches would recruit our kids to influence their college team culture. Our kids started getting scholarship dollars commensurate with the top talent in the country. And teams were beginning to fear us for the best reason - they knew we were coming for everything they had.

 

Our own coaches witnessed the transformation of each new crop of XTEAM women who started the season off losing badly and ending 8 weeks later ready to go for the jugular. Parents couldn't believe the changes: their kids' grades improved, their time management skills become far more effective and their attitude and well-being significantly improved. 

Kids themselves started saying they were more confident and year after year, more alumnae reported they were far more equipped for the tough world of college.

 

College coaches asked me "What are you doing? These kids are incredible."

I knew we were doing what seemed impossible. It was Bravery Training 1.0.

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