That’s how coach Brian Daboll commonly refers to Director of Coaching Operations Laura Young, whom he brought from Buffalo after being hired as Giants’ head coach.
“She’ll have her hands all over the organization in terms of the coaching side,” Daboll said when Young was hired. “She’s with me every step of the way. She’s a rock star really, and I feel very fortunate that I get to work with her each day because she provides just a tremendous amount of support and value to really everyone, but myself the most, I would say. She’s smart; there’s really not a job she can’t do and a job she won’t do. That’s her mindset. Very humble, egoless, but driven, smart. I just think she’s the best.”
General manager Joe Schoen had a different, and equally flattering, description of Young.
“She’s the MVP of the organization,” Schoen said.
“She does a lot for Dabes. She does a lot for the players. She manages our schedules, she gets everything set up around the facility. She’s behind the scenes, runs the team meetings, prepares those for Dabes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t do or doesn’t help us with. She’s the MVP for us.”
Young, who has since been joined on the coaching staff by offensive quality control coach Angela Baker, was the first woman to ever hold a coaching position in the Giants’ organization. Her bio on the Giants’ official website refers to her as Daboll’s “top assistant.”
Young laughed when I asked her the ‘rock star’ question during a recent sit down in the Giants’ cafeteria, saying she finds the description “a little embarrassing.”
“I just try to do my job the best that I can, try to help him [Daboll] where I can, try to help the organization where I can,” Young said. “So I appreciate the praise, but kind of like being a little bit behind the scenes.”
The feeling around the Giants’ facility seems to be that if you don’t know the answer to something, just go ask LY, which is what everyone seems to call Young.
“I think she’s the thread that holds us all together,” said Director of Player Engagement Ashley Lynn. “Especially when it comes to our players. They’re always like, ‘LY, what do you think about this?’ She is integrated into everything in this building, which is really hard to do. So I think she is that one thread that everyone needs.”
Offensive quality control coach Angela Baker, added to the coaching staff shortly after Young, was effusive in her praise of Young.
“She’s very humble, and I think that just makes you love her even more. She is absolutely one of the hardest-working people in this building. She’s flying all around talking to every different person and she’s the glue that holds everything together. She talks to each of the departments, she talks to the grounds crew and the equipment people and all the other people that really keep things running smoothly,” Baker said. “She has a hand in everything that Dabes does and talks to all of us as QCs and assistants to make sure that we’re all on the same page between the three phases — offense, defense, and special teams.
“I have engagement with her multiple times a day. She is the calm in the storm most days, she’s always got a smile on and is always encouraging to people and a ‘rock star’ even might be putting it lightly for her. She is an incredible human. I knew that she was going to have a big impact on me. And she does on a daily basis.”
So, what is it that Young does?
“I think what’s unique about the position I’m in ... there’s a lot of people in the same position [across the league]. We all have different potential titles for it; it’s the touch point in that role that you have with everybody in the building from ownership down to — I work on the business side with the community,” Young said. “The role is unique, because you do get to touch a lot of departments, not just on the football side. I’ve worked with our equipment guys, our trainers, our multimedia, our production. So it’s a pretty fun role because you get to learn a lot about the business and you get to work with a lot of great people.”
Young said she works “hip to hip” with Daboll.
“Hopefully it takes some off of Dabes’ plate. I’m not in the shoes of a head coach. But when you’re a head coach, there’s a lot that goes through your office,” Young said. “What my goal is is to take as much of that away from him so he can focus on football, and do the stuff that needs to get done without him having to be involved.
“Really, I take care of the administrative stuff. He’s allowing me to — this first year is just me learning, and really, I’m leaning on a bunch of people in this building, but he’s allowing me to do what I want with the role, in a parameter, if that makes sense. He’s not afraid to let me try to spread my wings, even though I’ve been doing this a long time so I can learn a lot more. I think that helps. Hopefully, it helps him a little bit, too.”
Young is anything but an NFL newbie. She has worked in the league since 2004 with the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets, the Bills, and now the Giants. During that time she has held roles in a variety of departments, from business to coaching.
Young might be considered a trailblazer. She does, though, credit others with blazing the trail she has picked up on.
“I’ve been fortunate. This is my fourth organization, and there’s been both men and women that have kind of blazed the trail for me,” Young said.
She particularly credits four women she worked with in Baltimore: Jesse Markison (Sr. Director of Compliance & Risk Management), Marisol Renner (Director of Publications), Joan Sieracki (Operations Assistant), Francine Lubera (retired) — as helping her find her way.
“Those are four women off the top of my head that were just phenomenal women to really learn from and be guided from,” Young said.
Don’t think that Young is just an administrator with a coaching title. Media got to watch full Giants practices during the spring and throughout training camp. Focus on Young, and you see her running around from group to group — doing what needs to be done. She was helping run drills, throwing tennis balls off the side of the building to Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard, working one-on-one with Barkley as his personal pass rusher. Whatever it takes.
Now that the Giants are in the regular season, you can find her helping to run drills with the defensive backs and moving from group to group communicating with players as the “conduit to keep the practice going at a good rate, which is what Dabes wants,” so that practice runs smoothly.
Oh, and she works one-on-one with Barkley on a regular basis. Young said those training camp sessions as Barkley’s personal pass rusher were “a little rough.” Her daily work with the star running back, though, has continued. Barkley and Young usually spend about 15 minutes working one-on-one during each practice.
“He’s been awesome. He hasn’t treated me any different than anybody,” Young said of Barkley. “I work a lot with him on just things that he needs. We talk about it. If he wants to work on footwork that day, he’ll work on footwork; if he wants to work on his catching. Now that we’re in season, we try to simulate some stuff that he does in the game.”
Barkley called Young “amazing” to work with. And he loves the simulations.
“All the stuff that we do somehow, for some reason, it always pops up on Sunday,” Barkley told me the week after the Giants had played the Jacksonville Jaguars. “I remember we did a drill last week and I came up to her this week and I was like ‘That drill literally came up last Sunday against Jacksonville.’
“It’s great to work with her, especially for myself as a running back. You really never get to get that one-on-one work. You’re usually doing ball-handling, you’re doing this, it’s just the makeup of practice, but to be able to have those 15 minutes with her she does a great job putting me into positions and preparing me for Sundays.”
The Giants’ coaching staff has received a ton of credit for starting the season 6-2 with what is considered by many to be an under-manned roster. Daboll, offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale and the rest of the coaches have, indeed, done a marvelous job.
It has been Young behind the scenes orchestrating things to help them be successful.
Rock star. MVP. Incredible human.
However you want to describe Young, it is obvious she is a major part of making things run smoothly for the Giants.