Coach of the Month

 

The Coach of the Month honors a coach who has been successful on or off the field, and exemplifies the characteristics of a strong female role model:
resilient, innovative, passionate, authentic, selfless and inspiring.

November 2019 Coach of the Month
Vicki Brown, University of Iowa
Head Coach, Volleyball

The Hawkeyes head volleyball coach, Vicki Brown is our November Coach of the Month! Coach Brown shares her insights, successes, advice – and what she loves to do outside of coaching! 

 

Get to know Coach Brown:

You were officially named head coach at Iowa recently. Describe how your transition has been from associate head coach to interim head coach to head coach? Coach Bond had called me on a Sunday morning and asked if I wanted to move to Iowa. At the time I was head coach at San Francisco. I have always wanted to get back to the B1G as a coach. As hard as it was to leave my team I had to take the opportunity. After a couple years and a little adversity I was named interim head coach this summer. I have always had full support from my Deputy Director of Athletics Barbara Burke and the other female coaches in the department. For that I am so appreciative. Then it happened, in the middle of September before our first conference match, Director of Athletics Gary Barta and Barbara asked me to be the head coach. I knew I was in complete shock not because I got it, I believe you should always see yourself winning in life, but more because of the timing.

Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment? I take pride and value in being an influence to these young women at an interesting time in their life. My mantra is I will use my platform to assist in the development of female empowerment always and in all ways.

My greatest accomplishment has come through moments of adversity. I have two…one was at San Francisco when we won our first match. It was a big moment because we started with a team of five players four months prior. The second was this year first weekend tournament. A lot of work and thought went into the utilizing the summer to allow the team to work through our adversity before seasoned started. We have eight freshmen this year. Invited, The Program to encourage our leaders and then boom…come out of the first weekend 3-0. Wins are great but it is the work each team puts in to get through adversity.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career? The hardest thing to overcome is the work/life balance. It’s truly something I have to sit down on Sunday and plan out how I will bring balance to the week.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How? There are so many women that have influenced my life (Cathy George, Melissa Myers, Jackie Simpson, Simone Ortega) – the biggest influence and longest is my mother. She has been a pastor for majority of my life. I have seen the ups and down of being a leader as well as a woman in a predominately male occupation. She was my first example of being a great leader and having a family.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches? My advice is to latch onto patience. Our jobs can be one of instant results, which can influence our main reason for getting into this career. Hang in there, have patience with your players, program, and self. Patience changes our perception and a change in perception can show the light at the end of the tunnel. Also, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate! Find the opportunity you want and go for but know your worth.

How do you continue learning and growing? I am always looking for other resources not connected to my sport. My niece who is a senior in college is a big one, have to stay current. Also, I have been reading a few books by Dr. Brene Brown.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching? As weird as this will sound, I love skateboarding on my long board and traveling.

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself? Maintain my moral compass and continue to stay connected to those that you can truly rely on.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently? Absolutely not. Everything that has happened was a lesson I had to learn in order to get here. I thank God for every moment

Anything else you want to share? If any coach wants to reach out, please do. I received this quote from another female coach…we build each other up when we Tell Her.

Congratulations, Vicki!

 

October 2019 Coach of the Month
Martu Loncarica, St. Joseph’s University
Assistant Field Hockey Coach

Coach Loncarica, a volunteer coach at St. Joseph’s during the 2015 season, returns to the Hawks this season after a two-year stint at William & Mary.  A three-time All-American on the pitch at Syracuse, she shares her coaching journey, including who has helped shape & influence her in her career. 

Get to know Coach Loncarica:

Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I believe that being authentic, honest, caring and ambitious have been some of the keys for my development as a coach. I strive to create connections with the players, getting to know and understand them as individuals, which allows me to coach them better. Nothing touches my heart more than building a trusting relationship. From there coaching is fun, because you are invested in them as people. I love helping players and teams succeed, but having a positive impact on their lives off the field is what I consider one of my greatest accomplishments.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
As an international coach, I need a VISA in order to work in the United States. After playing my 4 years of eligibility at Syracuse University, I continued my stay through student VISA’s working towards 2 Master’s degrees whilst coaching. It wasn’t until Tess Ellis (William and Mary Head Coach) took a chance by hiring me despite the uncertainties of the employment VISA process. Initially my visa was denied, but she was relentless until it was all figured out. Since working at WM, so many other opportunities have opened up for me, like becoming the U21 USA assistant coach, and being hired as the Saint Joseph’s University 1st Assistant after volunteering for the program during 2016-17.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
I try to learn as much as I can from everybody I encounter. Every person I’ve met or worked with has taught me something unique. The first one that comes to my mind is Lynn Farquhar (Saint Joseph’s University Head Coach) my current boss and friend. Lynn recruited me from Argentina when I was 18 years old to play at Syracuse University. Since then, I’ve been following her around the country by either working summer camps or volunteering to work for Universities she’s coaching at. Lynn has a relentless drive to be the best. She leads by example and believes in the development of young women. She never slacks or cuts corners no matter what the task is, and pushes me to be the best coach and person I can be every day.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
Be yourself. Learn the good and the bad from those around you, but always stick to your gut and be who you want to be.

How do you continue learning and growing?
I’m extremely curious and open to new experiences. I believe in consistently doing the things that are easy to do, but even easier not to do. Like going for a run, or reading 10 pages of a personal development book a day, or putting myself in a situation where I haven’t been before and always trying to make the most of it. I learn because of my curiosity and desire to be better every day. I apply this to every area of my life, not just my job.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
Spending time with my two beautiful border collies (Branca and Bjorn), and cooking with my husband (Nemo) are my 2 favorite things to do. I also enjoy hanging out with friends and family, visiting new places, trying new food and traveling to new countries.

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
Slow down, enjoy life, and make time for yourself and those you care about.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
Nothing. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that good things happen to good people.

Congratulations, Martu!

 

September 2019 Co-Coaches of the Month
Jennifer Herzig, James Madison University
Associate Head Softball Coach

Alice McCall, Florida Atlantic University
Assistant Men’s and Women’s Swim & Dive

Get to know Coach Herzig:

You’ve had much success over the years as a coach. In your seven seasons at JMU, the Dukes have compiled a 331-80 record, and JMU has set single-season win totals, including a 52-8 record in 2016. You have also help the program reach the top 10 in both major softball polls and seven NCAA Championship berths. And this year, the Dukes made it to the Super Regionals, eventually losing to National Champs UCLA.
Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

While coaching is absolutely my business, it is a business of PEOPLE, so I believe the biggest key to my success has been the ability to build quality relationships with the student-athletes I have been so fortunate to coach, as well as their parents and families.

Building relationships is about TRUST – giving trust and earning trust. I don’t believe anyone has the ability to truly coach and effect change without trust being at the core of everything we do.

I also believe another key to my success as a coach is my desire to put the players FIRST above everything else. While our days and weeks get incredibly busy and hectic, I have always made sure to remember that without the PLAYERS, there is no job at all. The players have to come first at all times, and I work hard to make sure my players not only know that logically, but truly FEEL that they come first in my life.

Finally, I think consistency is another key to anyone’s success – consistency in demeanor, energy, work ethic, expectations of the players / team, practice, and performance. I think players want structure and routine, and without consistency in all things, programs will lack that necessary structure.

I believe my greatest accomplishment is being some part (no matter how big or small) of a young woman’s growth & development into the person she is meant to be in this world, not just the player she dreams of being during her collegiate career. While the wins and championships are amazing and create incredibly special memories, my proudest moments as a coach are the ones that happen AFTER one of my players graduates – the dream jobs, the weddings, the birth of their children. Having relationships that withstand time and are worthy of being welcomed into a player’s LIFE past graduation is my greatest accomplishment.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
At one point in my career, following a change in athletic directors, I was one of several head coaches whose contract did not get renewed. Not understanding the concept that a change is made so someone can hire “their own people” was a struggle for me. Frankly, I think I still struggle with aspects of it to this day. I had spent years building a quality program that I was really proud of, as well as a LIFE there, and in the blink of an eye, it was torn out from underneath me.

We all know that this profession can be an incredibly volatile and unstable one, but knowing that in theory and knowing that because you have gone through it firsthand are two entirely different worlds.

Moving into my next program, I was hesitant to get close to anyone – staff or players. I was gun shy because I didn’t know when they might be taken out of my life again, so on some made up level, I tried to convince myself that if I didn’t get close to anyone, I was protecting myself and my heart.

Like with everything, however, time is the great healer and equalizer. It took a lot longer than I am proud to admit, and I will never have answers for certain things, but in time, I allowed myself to open my heart and my life back up to our players and staff members. None of it was easy, the hurt was present for a long time, and there was a lot of questioning and soul searching that took place along the way, but I do sincerely believe that everything happens for a reason.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
Without question, my mother has shaped me into the woman I am today. With every passing year, not only do I thank her for raising my brother and me the way she and my father did, but I am so incredibly appreciative that so many of what I believe to be my strongest qualities are ones that are very simply HER through and through.

My mother raised me to believe that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do, so long as I was willing to work for it. She raised me to believe I was intelligent and talented, but she held me accountable for absolutely everything in the process. There were no free passes in our house. My brother and I were taught responsibility and accountability, and we were taught to be appreciative of the smallest things. We learned the value of saying PLEASE and THANK YOU, and I still write thank you notes to this day because of my mother.

On top of the list of things that she has taught me – seeing as it is too long to ever name them all one by one – she showed me every single day what a strong woman looked like. Maybe without even knowing it, she showed me strength of character, strength of morality and faith, and strength of conviction. I saw first-hand what commitment and sacrifice looked like, and every single day of my life, I saw how the most pure and sincere forms of love mean taking care of everyone around you before yourself.

While I can so clearly see my mother in myself, I can only hope and pray that SHE is able to see the best parts of herself reflected in me as well.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
Find a small circle of mentors and use them as a resource! No one knows everything, and there are no silly questions in the world. Find people you trust, no matter what field they work in, and be willing to go outside your comfort zone to have conversations with them and learn from them!

Stay hungry to learn and grow! I am a firm believer that education is paramount to success, and I hope learning is exciting to young coaches. I think one of the best ways to form your own philosophies is to be exposed to new ideas that may challenge what you already know and believe. Through the process of learning and challenging yourself, you can evaluate what works, what doesn’t, what you truly believe in at the end of the day, and why you do so.

Know your WHY, and ALWAYS keep that in focus! One of the best pieces of advice I was given as I was just starting my career was “As an assistant coach, always remember what it was like to be a player… and then as a head coach, remember what it was like to be an assistant. If you can keep those two things in perspective, you will never lose sight of the big picture of what this is actually about!” I think knowing why you coach and invest in the lives of others helps you keep those two things in perspective.

How do you continue learning and growing?
I belong to several professional organizations and attend conferences / conventions annually. I serve as a mentor to younger coaches through one of those organizations, which allows me to learn as much, if not more, than what I am able to pass along to the younger coaches within my group. I try to pick up a new book that has been recommended to me by someone I know and value every few months. As I have gotten older, I have become more comfortable asking other coaches what they teach and WHY. Asking for help and picking someone else’s brain is outside my comfort zone most of the time, so I have to challenge myself to do so and continue growing in that area.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
Music is a huge love of mine, and I love attending concerts – I would go see almost anyone live just to experience live music. Animals are another passion of mine, so anytime I can interact or spend time around animals, I enjoy doing so. Traveling is an absolute gift to me. I love exploring new cities, finding their hidden treasures, and simply experiencing the unique vibe that each city has. I love being immersed in a new environment, walking through little shops in a downtown area, and getting to enjoy new and local restaurants.

Finally, I love going to the lake to decompress for a few days. The lake is the place where my soul seems to take a deep breath and finally RELAX!

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
Put yourself first occasionally and lead a more balanced life. I struggle with that in practice, yet it is the exact advice I give to others frequently; I just need to be better about slowing down and taking time out for myself occasionally.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
No. I firmly believe that we all end up exactly where we are meant to be at the exact moment we are meant to be there. I think you have to trust in the process and the journey, knowing that there will ALWAYS be things you may not understand or ever have answers to.

I think questioning choices and decisions or wanting to go back and do things differently takes away from the belief that there is a greater plan and purpose to all of this.

Finally, I think as long as someone is very clear on and grounded in their beliefs, ethics, and goals, all decisions and choices come down to two things:

1. Is this in the best interest of the program?

2. Does this move me closer to my goals?

When the answer is yes, sometimes the end decision becomes easier to wrap one’s head around and to move forward with. When the answer is no, trust that and move forward in a different direction!

Anything else you want to share?
There are going to be hard days. There are going to be challenges to overcome and difficult times to endure. People will question your ethics, your integrity, and whether or not you are good enough. It happens to everyone, however that knowledge doesn’t always make going through it for yourself any easier.

Know who “your trusted people” are. Know who you can lean on, rely on, and confide in. Seek guidance from people wiser, more experienced, and more successful than you, yet be willing to learn from someone younger and less experienced than you as well.

Remember why you coach. Remember to always put the players first. Remember why you fell in love with your sport and all of the countless opportunities and gifts it has brought to your life. Be humble and thankful. Give back to the game and the community around you. When it is all said and done, make sure to leave your program and your corner of the world better than you found it.


Get to know Coach McCall:

Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I believe that making the athletes better people will help them to become better athletes. It is important to me to share any outside knowledge I have about the world with my athletes, I think it enables them to see that we don’t just have to come together over sports, we can come together in tackling life too. One of my greatest accomplishments is to be able to represent WeCOACH on the Coaches Council, starting this year. To be put into a position where I can help other coaches around the nation, and through that help their teams, is a great honor.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Sticking out the season when family is far away and illnesses occur. Making the choices we do as coaches to better our student-athletes can be hard on our families but its important to try and do both the best we can.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
Danielle Tansel has been a great influence on my life, she was an Assistant Coach of mine when I swam at SMU. Her positivity and spark of reality really works with how I think. She is able to calm me and boost me up when needed, all while having a creative edgy outlook on life. She’s a recently new Mommy and doing an awesome job in her new life chapter!

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
Always listen to your gut and allow yourself to be heard. Join organizations developed and lead by women (like WeCOACH!) to allow yourself to grow and be aware of the challenges we face as female coaches. There are a lot of great things out there that are offered to female coaches but it is up to us to seek them out, support each other, and go for it!

How do you continue learning and growing?
I read a lot of articles and books. If I watch anything on TV its vary rare to be non-fiction. This year I set myself a goal to read one book per month and so far so good! I also find it useful to speak to coaches of different sports to enable my mind to think differently, this is why WeCOACH is such a great organization at bringing people together.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
I like making time to be with friends and connect with family overseas. Having time by the beach is always something to look forward to, especially during the busy times of our season I try to make the most of our environment, its sometimes easy to forget we live in paradise.

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
Allow yourself to always be open to learning and be patient. Knowledge is power in all aspects of life, not just your career. The good will always follow hard work and it is sometimes easy to lose sight of why we do what we do, educate yourself and educate others as much as you can. Remember to take time for yourself, and to have a healthy work-life balance!

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
I would probably display my challenges in a different way. Letting people around you understand you, is just as important as you trying to understand them. There are always hurdles to get over in the working world but trusting what you are doing is for the better, is important!.

Congratulations, Jennifer and Alice!

August 2019 – Ashley Bastron
Head Track & Field/Cross Country Coach, Purdue University Fort Wayne

The Purdue University Fort Wayne head track & field/cross county coach, Ashley Bastron, is our August ARMS Software Coach of the Month!

You have led the return of the men’s track & field program which begins this season. Tell us about that experience.
Overall, it’s been a great experience! There was a lot of work that went into figuring out all the logistics and signing in an incoming men’s class of nearly 30 athletes for our first season. But I love working hard and as a staff we are incredibly excited about the return of men’s track and field and every single one of our incoming recruits. They are a special group who bought into what we CAN be, not what we are, and they are ready to rewrite the record books!

Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Persistence, a great staff, organization, a support system, work ethic, patience, and always remembering my WHY. There is no one thing that has helped me be successful. I think a lot of aspects of my personality are naturally a great fit for coaching. I’m incredibly hard working, organized, and persistent when it comes to getting things done and accomplishing my goals. I’ve also been very fortunate to work with some incredible coaches who have lifted me up when I needed them too and helped to balance out my weaknesses. Having a strong support system outside of coaching with my husband and family has also given me strength when I needed it. They never doubt my dreams and are they for me always. Patience isn’t something I’m naturally gifted with, but I’ve learned its importance over the years. Success does not happen overnight. Lastly, my WHY leads into my greatest coaching accomplishment. I’ve had athletes over the years who really struggled with self-confidence and race anxiety. Helping them to overcome their fears and recognize their worth as a person and their potential as an athlete is my greatest accomplishment. No trophy or championship ring can provide the same level of joy.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
I think one of my biggest challenges has been staying true to who I am in a male dominated profession. Track & Field has one of the lowest percentages of female head coaches amongst all NCAA DI sports and while that’s slowly changing, it’s a long way from being equal. I’ve been told I can’t coach men by other coaches, by recruits’ parents, and by administrators. I’ve been treated like I don’t exist when other male coaches are present, this is especially true when we are on the road. The assumption is always that my male assistants are the head coach and I’m an athlete. Female coaches are treated differently when it comes to discipling our athletes and holding them to a high standard. There is an unrealistic expectation that all female coaches need to serve a “motherly” role. Lastly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “she only got that job because she’s female” or “there goes another school hiring an unqualified female instead of a qualified male”. The idea that females only get hired to fill HR quotas is untrue and hurtful for everyone, not just the female coaches it directly impacts.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
I’ve been fortunate to have several strong female role models in my life, so it’s hard to pick just one. But Rhonda Riley, the head women’s cross country coach at Duke University deserves recognition. Rhonda has helped me immensely when it comes to navigating this crazy by amazing profession and she always encourages me to stay true to who I am and what I value most as a coach. But the best part about Rhonda is that she does this for so many female coaches in our sport. She runs the female coach’s breakout session at our convention every year and helped to organize a female coaching mentorship program. She lifts up female coaches by giving them the guidance, confidence, and resources they need to be successful! She is one of a kind and I’m so thankful to have her as a mentor!

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
Remain persistent, true to yourself, and never believe anyone who tells you that your dreams are too big.

How do you continue learning and growing?
Well “Learner” is my number three Clifton Strength, so fortunately my hunger to learn and grow is a large part of who I am and what I value. I love attending workshops, conferences, and other professional development opportunities both inside and outside of my sport. I enjoy the process and the journey to becoming my best self. I don’t think it’s one that ever ends and that excites and motivates me.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
Spending time with my husband, family, friends, and our sweet vizsla pup, Desi. We love going to the beach, going on hikes, traveling, and camping! You can also find us checking out local restaurants and finding the best donuts in every town we visit! While Desi has the greatest obsession with food, my husband and I aren’t far behind her.

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
Patience young Ashley, you will be successful if you trust the process, focus on your values, and remain persistent.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
No, everything I’ve experienced and done has helped to shape me into who I am today. You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it. I don’t waste time wishing it was different, I focus on the lessons I’ve learned and use that to help create a better future. Mistakes will happen, no coach or person is perfect.

Congratulations, Ashley!

July 2019 – Allison Coomey
Assistant Women’s Ice Hockey Coach, Penn State

The Nittany Lions assistant women’s ice hockey coach, Allison Coomey, is our July ARMS Software Coach of the Month!

You recently attended the NCAA 2.0 Academy #3 in May, can you share with us some of your biggest take-aways?
It’s hard to name just a few takeaways from my experience at the NCAA 2.0 Academy. Having participated in it 5 years ago, it was amazing to have another opportunity to learn more about myself as a coach and also learn from a variety of strong female leaders. Being vulnerable in an environment that helped me feel empowered was so impactful. As a hockey coach I know most of the coaches in my sport but it was so nice to be surrounded be coaches of other sports.

You were named the 2019 AHCA Women’s Hockey Assistant Coach of the Year, what did that award mean to you?
It was an amazing honor to be recognized by my peers. Honestly, I’ve been coaching college hockey for 17 years but I couldn’t tell you where those years have gone. I have been able to teach what I love to do and that in itself has been so rewarding. An honor like this is just a bonus. I truly don’t believe I would have received this award if it weren’t for the people I have worked with and for over the years. I am just a product of whom I’ve been surrounded by.

Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I would consider myself a caring and compassionate person. I care about the players I coach and want the best for them. I would like to think that this quality helps get the best out of them. Throughout my career I have been on teams that have won conference championships and competed in NCAA tournaments so it is hard to pinpoint my greatest accomplishment. I will say that staying involved in the lives of my former players is something that I truly value.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
I believe that everything happens for a reason. I have been so lucky to work at the places I have and am also so fortunate for my path. There have been numerous jobs I applied for, interviewed for and for one reason or another didn’t get. At the time I doubted myself and my abilities but those experiences helped get me to where I am today. Looking back I am grateful to have had such opportunities. They have definitely helped shape my career.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
Professionally there are two women that come to mind. My college coach, Margot Page and the first head coach I worked for, Krisitin Steele. I looked up to Margot because she was the first female coach I played for. Margot helped me think that coaching college hockey was possible. She is a strong, smart and intelligent person and that is definitely something to admire. Kristin may have known I had the ability to coach even before I did. She asked if I would be interested during my senior year in college. Kristin had also coached me at Niagara so we knew each-other pretty well. She also hired me because she said I balanced her out. I realized now how important that is when building a staff.
Personally, I have to say my mom and my twin sister, Allisa. I wanted to be a teacher because of my mom and now I get to teach something I am very passionate about. My sister Allisa and I played both hockey and lacrosse together in college and she is one of the most unselfish people I know. I use her as an example when I am looking for players that are great teammates. It’s so important to creating a winning culture.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
You are the only one in your shoes. No one can tell you what is best for you so do what makes you happy. As coaches we spend roughly 80% of our lives in our careers so if you love what you’re doing keep doing it. If you need something different, go for it.

How do you continue learning and growing?
I have coached at 5 different schools and with 5 different staffs. The only reason I have left one place to try something new is the opportunity to learn and grow. Most of the changes were scary at first because they were well out of my comfort zone and each move meant leaving something great behind but every move was what was best for my career. I have learned from so many great coaches. I like to ask questions and listen to ideas. Sharing drills with other coaches or new ways to teach and motivate players is so interesting. I need to become a better reader. That is my goal this summer.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
I try to workout 6 days a week. It takes my mind off of work and makes me feel good. I also like traveling and visiting with my friends and family. I need to make more room for the traveling. I am working on checking a few more items off of my bucket list.

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
Enjoy the process. Often times as coaches we get caught up in focusing on what is next that we forget to take time to be present. It’s so hard to do but sometimes you never really appreciate things until they are over.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
Similar to the previous question the only thing I can think of is enjoying the process. During some really successful seasons, I was only able to realize how great they were as I was reflecting on them. As for my path to this point, I wouldn’t change a thing!

Congratulations, Allison!

June 2019 – Asiya Mahmud
Assistant Women’s Crew Coach, Drexel University

The Drexel Dragons assistant women’s crew coach, Asiya Mahmud, is our June ARMS Software Coach of the Month!

Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I personally feel that I had very little success athletically. I had a lot of aspirations, but lacked the confidence to pursue them. As a coach, I have tried to turn this around by seeking out opportunities for my athletes to compete at a high level even if it means not being the best. Once you see what it takes to get to the top, you can develop a plan and being around like-minded others who want to compete and train at a high level will make you a better person as well. Iron sharpens iron! I consider my greatest accomplishment as a coach being a mentor for young women and helping them to the paths they want to take in life.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
In my coaching career I’ve been challenged with not letting personal struggle cross over into my work life. Sometimes I think we feel pressure to put up a strong and unbothered façade, but it’s ok to struggle, need help, and be vulnerable with those around you. The people that truly care for you will not only lend a hand but support you in any way they can.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
My mother is undoubtedly the greatest female influence on my life and coaching career. She knows very little about the sport but has shown me that passion and enthusiasm are great ways to get started with any job. She’s also shown an immense amount of strength through the toughest of times and it’s helped me to believe that with perseverance and support you can get through anything.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
I’ve said this before, but it’s ok to not have all the answers. Being a young coach, I’ve always worried about coming off uninformed or getting something wrong. It’s ok to be wrong! If you don’t make mistakes, you can’t learn.

How do you continue learning and growing?
I continue to learn and grow by attending conferences, seeking out mentors, and consulting my peers. It would be easy to want to keep information to yourself to try to get ahead, but in my experience when you are able to connect with people on a personal level you get a lot further.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
Outside of coaching, I enjoy time spent with family and friends, reading, biking, and exploring the city of Philadelphia!

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
Enjoy the little things. We get so wrapped up in the training programs and the championships it’s easy to forget about the van rides and the genuine moments spent with your group. When the season is over, those are the moments I miss the most.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
No way! If I went back and did something differently, I wouldn’t have an appreciation for who I have become today. Every opportunity, bad or good, is a learning experience.

Anything else you want to share?
Over the past year it has been tough seeing the strongest woman I know, my mother, battle metastatic breast cancer. Receiving news of the cancer being stage 4 at the time of her initial diagnosis left me feeling lost and in despair. However, watching how she has dealt with every up and down along the way with such poise and positivity has helped me to realize life is too short to sweat the small stuff. It’s helped me keep things in perspective and serves as a reminder to keep pushing forward even if every day is a battle. Take nothing for granted and live life to the fullest.

Congratulations, Asiya!

May 2019 – Adia Barnes
Head Women’s Basketball Coach, University of Arizona

The Wildcat’s head women’s basketball coach, Adia Barnes, is our May ARMS Software Coach of the Month!

You’ve had much success over the years as a coach and player both at the college level and in the WNBA, and last month, your Wildcats won the WNIT! Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Keys to success: surround yourself with good people; culture is everything! Build a championship culture on and off the court. My greatest accomplishment as a coach was winning the 2019 WNIT Championship in just my 3rd year as a head coach. We had the biggest turnaround in program history; from winning 6 games in 17-18 to winning 24 games in 18-19

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
The first time I was cut from my WNBA team, and transitioning from a player to a coach.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
Joan Bonvicini- she took a chance on me as a young, underrated high school player, and developed me into an All-American.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
Work hard; go after your goals; set the bar high; be willing to do anything on and off the court.

How do you continue learning and growing?
I study the game; talk to other head coaches that are more successful and seasoned; use my inner circle for advice.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
Time with my family! [WeCOACH: Happy Mother’s Day, Adia!]

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
To take more time for myself; make sure my gas tank is full; not to be so critical; things happen when their supposed to happen- it’s not always our time but the right time.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
I would have made some better decisions earlier in my coaching career.

Anything else you want to share?
Thank you for honoring me!! I’m blessed to have the best job in the world – I get to wake up every day and mentor young women.

Congratulations, Adia!

April 2019 – Juli Fulks
Head Women’s Basketball Coach, Transylvania University

The Transy head women’s basketball coach, Juli Fulks, is our April ARMS Software Coach of the Month.

You’ve had much success as a head coach, especially this year posting a 27-3 record, winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, being named the HCAC Coach of the Year, and making it to the Sweet 16 of the DIII NCAA tourney. Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My love for coaching and this profession is the opportunity to use our sport to further our women as students, athletes, leaders, and future professionals. When our primary goal is their all-around development and instilling habits that lead to excellence, the games will take care of themselves and we graduate women confident and ready to take on their next challenge in life. My greatest joy in coaching is getting to have a front row seat watching players accomplish goals they never believed possible both on and off the court.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Every coach must find their own way to manage the stress and pressure of our professions. It took several years to find a healthy strategy, which started with a significant mental shift of remembering why I coach and being grateful to work in such a rewarding and meaningful career.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
I am grateful and lucky to have worked with and for many strong women! My first example of coaching excellence and empowering women came from my high school volleyball coaches, Beth Elwood and Sue Fetzer. At the time, I didn’t understand the “why” behind their coaching methods, but 20 years later, I still employ their practice strategies and model their coaching demeanors.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
Find ways to contribute and build relationships outside of the athletic offices. Say yes to committees, hiring searches, and other opportunities to work with new departments or the faculty. These ties can help break down barriers between athletics and other areas on campus and create new partnerships for your team.

How do you continue learning and growing?
My first path to learning is most often through reading and then talking with other coaches and administrators regarding their experiences. Additionally, I think the ability to honestly self-reflect is a critical component to all growth, both personally and professionally.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
I’m always up for trying something new! Whether its traveling, new restaurants, workout classes, etc., I enjoy trying unique experiences and never know when something will become a new ‘favorite’.

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
The basketball games are just 60 hours of our season. While they are obviously important, as coaches, we need to be as equally driven in all the other hours and times we can impact and educate our student-athletes.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
Ha! Yes! In the business of making constant decisions, whether in or out of games, I can think of a lot of moments (or play calls). At the end of the day, I’m grateful to be working in college athletics and I wouldn’t change anything that helped lead me to my career and job today.

Congratulations, Juli!

March 2019 – Jo Evans
Head Softball Coach, Texas A&M  
WeCOACH Board of Directors member

Texas A&M head softball coach and current WeCOACH Board member Jo Evans is our March ARMS Software Coaches of the Month! In February Jo notched her 1200th win, becoming just one of 12 coaches in NCAA DI to reach that plateau. We recently had a chance to pose some questions to Jo. Below are the conversations.

You’ve had much success as a head coach and recently amassed career win #1200. Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I am passionate about coaching and passionate about my sport. I love the sport I coach and I love working with young women. I love what I do and I have always enjoyed the work. I am committed to being an effective communicator, confronting issues head on, and communicating directly with players and staff. I think that has served me well. I do my best to surround myself with people who are good at the things I’m not. I have been fortunate to work with some great assistant coaches who have shared my love for the sport and put in countless hours to ensure our success. No head coach ever does this alone! Accomplishment…When a former player tells me I made a positive impact in her life, that I’ve inspired her to be her best self. That feels really good.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
As a head coach, if my team isn’t successful, I can always go back to two things: either I didn’t do a good enough job recruiting, or I didn’t find a way to get my athletes to perform to their potential. The buck always stops with the head coach, so that can feel heavy at times.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
Growing up it was my Mom. She was steady, always had her feet on the ground, wasn’t afraid of hard work, mowed the lawn, painted the house, etc. She was physically strong and emotionally strong. Always put her kids first, selfless, and kindhearted. In my professional world it was Fern Gardner. She was the Women’s Head Basketball Coach and Associate AD at The University of Utah. I took pitching lessons from her when I was young, and in 1990, she ended up hiring me as the Head Softball Coach at the University of Utah. She was a great boss because she had played every sport and ended up coaching just about every sport too. She could relate to me as a head coach. She was firm and kind and very competitive. I loved working for her.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
Surround yourself with smart, hard-working people, who understand how much you love coaching. Build a foundation of family and friends who help you keep your feet on the ground. Have a life outside your job where people don’t call you Coach; you’ll need to escape once in a while. Be willing to work long hours and don’t expect a pat on the back every day. If you’re an assistant, do whatever you can to help the program be great. Be loyal to your head coach and program. Be Professional. Coaching is a profession, not a hobby, so give it the respect it deserves.

How do you continue learning and growing?
I am surrounded by people who are smarter than I am, so that helps. My competitors are so smart and accomplished that I’m constantly learning from them, whether it be on the field, in recruiting wars, or at our coaches meetings and conventions. Working camps, presenting at clinics, with coaches at all levels. Reading books, articles, etc.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
I enjoy travelling to other countries, being outdoors, spending time with friends and family.

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
Today it would be: Be patient with yourself and your team. Don’t make excuses; just put in the hard work and trust the process. Remember you are more than your wins and losses.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
I can’t think of much I would change. All the mistakes I’ve made, my shortcomings, the lessons I’ve learned by taking risks, have led me to this place in time. I definitely wouldn’t change where I am right now.

Anything else you want to share?
Coaching is an honor and a privilege. I wouldn’t trade the past 34 years of head coaching for anything.

Congratulations, Jo!

February 2019 – UC Irvine Women’s Basketball Staff
Tamara Inoue, Cece Russell-Nava, and Tayyiba Haneef-Park

Tamara Inoue (2013 WCA class #29) and two members of her staff: asst. coach Cece Russell-Nava (2015 WCA #35) and director of admin Tayyiba Haneef-Park (2016 WCA #38), are our February ARMS Software Coaches of the Month! We recently had a chance to pose some questions to Tamara and her staff. Below are the conversations.

You’ve had success both as a head and assistant/associate coach. Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Tamara:
I took over a program that had finished last or second to last in conference for several years. My first year was very testing, especially to my patience. My second year at UC Irvine, we made huge improvements and finished 3rd with the first post-season bid in over 25 years. This season we have had the best start in program history and are breaking many records at UC Irvine. The biggest key I believe in the quick turnaround to this program is my staff. Without the grind and recruiting that Coach Cece (Cecilia Russell-Nava), Coach Y (Jualeah Woods) & Coach J (Justin Wilson) have done, as well as the support that we have from our Dobo Amanda Delgado and Director of Administration for WBB, Tayyiba Haneef-Park, we wouldn’t be in this position of having such a fun and talented team to coach. I am a strong believer the culture comes from the top and I believe I have the best staff in the country.

Greatest accomplishment is winning. The players are seeing their hard work and commitment paying off every game when we get the win. Our team and individual players are being recognized on the national stage. The student-athlete, seeing the results of their hard work, I believe, builds confidence in their self-esteem and prepares them for life after basketball.
CC my freshman year and then won a championship my senior year. Going to the NCAA tournament was a special accomplishment.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Tamara:
Working with colleagues that may not have had the same agenda or goals that are being pushed out to the team. When it becomes about the individual and not the team, it can make every day, work, and practice very challenging. I was able to overcome it by focusing on my players and making sure the staff members who had two feet in were grinding with me and not only making my job as a head coach easier but making the HC look good!

What do you see as the biggest differences between being a head coach and an assistant?
Tamara: As an assistant it was SUPER easy to have an opinion and tell my HC this is how it should be done, and never understand the hesitation. As a head coach, I receive great input from my assistants but it’s not that easy pulling the trigger because it’s your name on the door. When I make decisions, I must take into consideration how it effects not only my players, but staff, support staff, administration, community, recruiting, and media.

When did you first realize you wanted to get into coaching?
Cece: I knew after my sophomore year of high school, Sue Phillips (my high school coach and one of the smartest women I know) inspired me. I want to pass on what she had instilled in me and that is to: work your butt off, be prepared, compete with your heart and soul, and you do not have to apologize for being a strong woman. Also, BANNERS ARE FOREVER!

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
Tamara: My mother, growing up, she never let me see a difference between boys and girls when it came to sports. I played all co-ed growing up and I hung with them all! My twin, Karine, and I were the most competitive against each other and my mom allowed it to happen. However, as we got older, she realized that we needed to pick different sports or else we wouldn’t be friends (best decision we ever made). My attitude has carried through my adult life where my competitiveness never waivers.

Cece: My Mom! She is a very strong woman that grew up a migrant worker, but with an education and hard work. She taught me you can do whatever you want. She taught me that you must outwork everyone around you. Being a woman and even more importantly, a woman of color, you can NEVER make an excuse, compare, or blame others. You must be prepared, work hard every day, and be presentable. Because as a woman you can do 9 things perfect but if you mess up the 10th time, then that is what you will be judged by. In that message it taught me not to give excuses, but to persevere. You must prove yourself over and over and over again, and once you do…do it again!

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
Tamara: It’s not easy. The grind is real and the commitment is greater than when you were a student-athlete. Your time will be sacrificed. Stay with it, be a sponge, learn from coaches around you, and not just in your sport. Talk with other coaches outside your program. I promise you, your feelings are the same as others. Stay loyal, don’t throw anyone under the bus, and always leave a program better than when you first got there.

What is the best part about your job as Director of Administration for the women’s basketball team?
Tayyiba: The best part of my job is being able to take the administrative tasks such as finance, travel, and gear off the coaches hands to that they can focus on what’s most important- the development and well- being of the student the athletes.

How do you continue learning and growing?
Tamara: I watch a lot of games in all sports (mainly tennis). I love to read and learn about other coaches and athletes and what they have been through and how they had success.

Cece: Coach T is always pushing me to read more. But being open to listening and learning other philosophies or systems is something I strive for. Pete Newell Jr. who has been my mentor since I was in 4th grade constantly is challenging me in so many aspects, not just the game but in life. I think you have to constantly have the passion to watch, discuss, and listen to other coaches, and not just in your sport. I also learn a lot from our players. They are a constant wealth of knowledge, whether it’s the system they came from, the adjustments they are wanting to make, or what they are seeing.

Tayyiba: I think professional and personal development are extremely important. I love taking opportunities to grow in both areas whether it may be through church, lectures, books or even sitting and watching coaches from all different sports in their element. I had the pleasure to meet and get to know Lisa Nichols, author of The Secret, and am inspired by the way she motivates people around the world. I love studying how people can touch an audience like that and help make changes in another person’s life. I am also fascinated by Growth Mindset philosophies and continue to study them for use in my own personal and professional life. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
Tamara: Seeing my twin as much as possible and hanging out with my niece and nephews at any point I get a break.

Cece: I do CrossFit every morning and surf on my off days. It’s fun to be around a different culture of athletes (even animals), how they move and attack, it’s all so relatable and can transfer back to your sport.

Tayyiba: Quality time with my family is of utmost importance to me when I am not working. I have a 5-year old daughter and a 8-year old son who are both very spirited and love spending time together. We love to cruise the beach, go to the park or just enjoy any opportunity to be outside. Apart from my kids, I love sewing, reading, DIY crafts and cooking.

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
Tamara: Don’t give up, don’t ever give up. Continue to lead and be the example.

Cece: Know your “why” and have passion behind it. I want to make sure our players are successful and have a great experience. Part of that is getting them to experience being Champions. The grind and what it takes to compete and earn a championship leads to successful, confident women.

Tayyiba: A positive attitude and outlook on life gives you power over your circumstances rather than your circumstances having the power to control you.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
Tamara: No, I have been hit with very tough life lessons to this point, some where I was stuck for a little while on what would be next but I believe I have learned so much from mistakes and decisions that I am better for it and can continue to be a role model for this young women that come into my program.

Cece: Yes, there is so much I would do differently, even from back to when I was a player. However, I always tell my players that, a sign of a good player is one who can see and understand their adjustments, but a sign of a GREAT player is the one who sees and then DOES IT! So the one thing I would do differently is not be so STUBBORN!

Tayyiba: No. I think every lesson learned put me on the path to be exactly where I am today. The hurt and the pain made me stronger. The losses made me hunger to be better. The wins made me appreciate the journey. The struggle made me humble. Each day is an opportunity to learn, grow and strengthen your testimony.

Anything else you want to share?
Tayyiba:
I want to say that it is possible to have a family and career in coaching or administration even at the top levels of the sporting world. As an athlete I competed overseas while having my son with me. Now as a mother of two, I have been able to find the right village that supports my family/work balance. I encourage women that want to have to families to find the atmosphere that helps balance the two, knowing that the work-life harmony will be different during season and off-season.

Congratulations, Tamara, Cece, and Tayyiba!

January 2019 – Erin Lindsey
Head Volleyball Coach, Santa Clara University

The Santa Clara new head volleyball coach, Erin Lindsey, is our January ARMS Software Coach of the Month! We recently had a chance to pose some questions to Lindsey. Below is our conversation.

You’ve had success both as a head and assistant coach as well as a student-athlete, and recently, when you were still an assistant for the Stanford Volleyball team, the Cardinal won the National Championship. Talk to us about some keys to your successes as a coach. And what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I would say the successes that stick with me as a coach are maybe what others consider small, but it’s the changes and progress I get to help student-athletes make in their game or in their life every day. It’s their “ah-ha moments” or when they realize they have another level or decide on a major or a career. To continue to have the opportunity to do this though, you have to win and be successful in the competitions. On that front, I would say being a part of this year’s Stanford team and winning the national championship is obviously the best. But I have also been a part of a few other special teams including the 2015 Dartmouth team that finished just 2 points short from the program’s 1st-ever Ivy League championship. Also, the 2008 North Carolina team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship. Both who had huge turnarounds from their previous seasons. As a student-athlete, I was a part of a UNC program that was middle of the ACC my freshman year and then won a championship my senior year. Going to the NCAA tournament was a special accomplishment.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
There are a lot of parts of this job that are hard. Most coaches like to have a lot of control and we coach young people who are still figuring out who they are and what they want out of life; that can be complicated. I would say it was hard moving my family to New Hampshire for my first head coaching job at a program that was perennially at the bottom of the conference and then having a 2-win season the second year in. Then sticking to my plan and making sure I was consistent in my effort and behavior. It was hard to make the decision to go back to assistant coaching when I knew I loved being a head coach. I recognized it could be better for my family and ultimately my career.

What do you see as the biggest differences between being a head coach and an assistant?
The biggest difference in being a head coach and assistant is the control over how the program is run and then the pressure to produce results. Also, I think the way the student-athletes communicate and engage with you is completely different. It takes more as a head coach to gain trust and develop a productive relationship. But I also think once you do, it can be stronger. I have found that you get a lot less sleep as a head coach.

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
I am not sure I can identify one specific woman who greatly shaped my career. I will say I have admired many women from afar who I think have been pioneers in athletics: Beth Miller at UNC and Cecile Reynaud at FSU. Also women who have done exceptionally well in head coaching women’s volleyball: Kirsten Booth at Creighton and Jen Petrie at San Diego. Megan Sobel at Dartmouth was a great advocate for my program and me, and always pushed me to ask for what I thought we needed. I appreciated those nudges because that wasn’t something that came naturally to me.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
Put yourself out there to get into conversations with as many different people as you can. And don’t limit those to your own sport or the athletics industry. Also, don’t make assumptions about what the job is or is not, or if you can do it with a family. And … Don’t give up! What we do is important.

How do you continue learning and growing?
Mostly conversations with other people about volleyball, teaching, learning, business, life, psychology, parenting, anything anyone wants to talk about. And podcasts, books, articles, but mostly podcasts these days.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
Anything my kids want to do, traveling – seeing new places and meeting new people, relaxing on the beach in Hawaii, entertaining (having people over for food and company).

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself?
Be present. Look for opportunities to connect and cherish them.

Is there anything you would go back and do differently?
I don’t think I would go back and do anything differently. I very much appreciate my path; I see value in all of it.

Anything else you want to share?
I think a lot of who I am and have become comes from my family and especially growing up in Hawaii. It is a special place where many different cultures come together on a small island and it fosters understanding, passion and teamwork.

Congratulations, Erin!

December 2018 – Lyndse Hokanson
Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach, Georgetown University

Hoyas assistant women’s soccer coach, Lyndse Hokanson, is our December ARMS Software Coach of the Month!

You’ve had success every place you have been, and a very successful season this year, making it to the College Cup for the 2nd time in 3 years. What do you consider your biggest accomplishment so far? Wow, it’s hard to pick just one because each of those teams and moments were so special. Obviously, it was really exciting to be there for the first conference tournament victory for both Valdosta State in ’14 and then with Georgetown in ’16. Knowing how much each of those championships meant to, not only the girls in the program at that moment in time, but also all of those who had come before – that was a humbling experience. It was really cool to see alums beaming with pride over the success of programs they’d helped contribute to. Of course, heading to the College Cup in 2016 with Georgetown was remarkable, and I am pinching myself that we are preparing to head to our 2nd one in a few days. (*this interview took place prior to the start of the semi-final match-up with UNC in the Women’s College Cup)

What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?
The hardest thing I’ve had to overcome thus far in my career was the first season transitioning from being a player to being a coach. More specifically, for me, it was the switch from playing as a goalkeeper to becoming a coach who needs to view the field holistically. I had watched the game of soccer from the goal practically my whole life, so moving to the sideline and watching the interaction between the lines of players and the tactics from a different viewpoint was a whole new (and at times jarring) experience. Still learning so much every day!

Was there a woman who has greatly shaped or influenced you? How?
I have been incredibly lucky to have so many female mentors in the coaching world throughout my career. My first travel soccer coach was a female, my college coach was a female, my goalkeeper coach was a female, and my first boss was a female. Each of them has had a unique impact on the way that I view the game and interact with my players. So, for the sake of not leaving any of them out, ‘thanks’ Michelle, Diane, Kasey, Mel, and Becks! I couldn’t be more thankful for what they have each given to me. It’s hard to choose just one of the many women in coaching I admire or have benefited from knowing, but when I was in high school, I was coached on an international trip by a woman named Erin (Lycan) Ridley. I remember being so intrigued by the detail with which she approached the position, and the way that she could articulate her coaching points, with both respect and care. I was lucky to then have the opportunity to coach alongside her at regional camps and through that time I watched a mentor become a confidant and friend. I have been super thankful to have her as a sounding board as I have continued to progress in my career and she is still someone that equally inspires and encourages me to this day.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming women coaches?
First, let me say, being 5 years in, I don’t claim to even be close to knowing a thing about anything. But for those who might be right at the start or in the early stages of their career, I would say my best piece of advice learned so far is to be true to yourself. Ultimately, there are going to be things that you are awesome at and things that you struggle with. Never stop trying to learn but also realize that it is okay to let others help you out at those things that you aren’t so great at. Be aware of those areas that you can lean on others. Along those lines, always try and put yourself in situations where you can take advantage of your strengths and benefit those around you by shining in that way. I feel you will always add the most value when you are able to be authentic and do what you do best as much as possible. Also, never be too big for the little things, learn people’s names and use them, and be kind always. Those simple things will let people around you know that you care and are invested.

How do you continue learning and growing?
I’m constantly looking to learn and grow through coaching courses offered in our sport, our coaching convention, and opportunities like the NCAA Women Coaches Academy. I find you learn the most through engaging in conversations with other coaches as much as you can. I do not in any way feel as though I’ve got it figured out, so I really love getting to learn from peers and people who I have admired from afar just by talking about the game. I want to get out of my comfort zone as much as I can so that I am constantly being challenged.

If you could tell yourself anything, what one bit of advice would you give yourself? Or is there anything you would go back and do differently?
Again, this past year I’ve really come to realize that knowing who you are and what you bring to the table is important. Granted, this is only year 5 for me, so I don’t pretend like I know a lot or have been at this for a long time. However, I think in the past I have been guilty of getting caught up in the dreadful act of comparison and honed in on my flaws and deficiencies in relation to those around me. I have been fallen victim to that sense of imposter syndrome and always feeling like I was a passenger instead of a contributing factor to my own path and journey. When I did that, I lost sight of all the qualities that have drawn me into this profession and that have put me in the place that I am now. If I could go back a few years and tell myself to quit being so hard on myself it probably would have saved me a few sleepless nights! I wouldn’t go back and change anything because even the tough experiences are worthwhile, but I’d love to tell my first-year self to relax a little bit.

What do you enjoy doing outside of coaching?
I am a sports fanatic so even in my free time I’m watching sports or attending games. If I’m not doing that, I’m probably playing with my dog or hanging out with family and friends, nothing too crazy.

Is there anything else that you want to share with others?
Funny story, when I went to college, I always thought I was going to be the next Hannah Storm (SportsCenter anchor) and literally said from 6th grade on that was what I was going to do. Then, my freshman year of college, I picked up the nickname “coach” after I helped out with an intramural team on campus, and I remember telling one of my friends my junior year that I thought I was going to go into coaching. Her response: “Duh. Glad you finally figured it out on your own.” Guess it just took me a while to grow into my nickname.

Congratulations, Lyndse!

November 2018 – Anne Parmenter
Head Field Hockey Coach, Trinity College

Trinity College head field hockey coach Anne Parmenter is our November ARMS Software Coach of the Month!

Parmenter’s team has had a successful 2018 season so far, currently sitting with a 12-4 overall record.

This is even more impressive as the Bantams graduated their two-time national Player of the Year and leading Trinity scorer in team history. Parmenter takes pride in continuing to find a way to grow as a team, which involves demanding a high level of play from her first year players and young returners.

A high moment of the season came in the middle of October as Trinity played the undefeated, top-ranked, and defending national champ Middlebury College and held them scoreless for an hour. Though they fell in the end, Parmenter identifies that as a huge moment of pride.

Despite the highs, Parmenter has also overcome many challenges. One of the most difficult was leaving the first school she coached at (Connecticut College) to take over the head coaching position at their arch rivals.

She has had strong women in her life who have shaped and influenced her. Parmenter’s first P.E. teacher encouraged her to join a field hockey club and pursue her dream of going to P.E. college (in the UK). Her grandmother and mother have also served as role models for her. Parmenter’s mother, who is 87, swims every day, walks and lawn bowls. Though she lives in Australia, she live streams all of the Trinity field hockey games and emails her critiques to Parmenter.

Parmenter continues to learn and grow by surrounding herself with young, energetic assistants, who she says keep her current with technology and the latest trends.

When it comes to advice, for up-and-coming women coaches, Parmenter urges them to be servant leaders. “Never ask your athletes to do things that you haven’t or wouldn’t do yourself,” said Parmenter. “Remember your athletes are only 18-21 year olds in college (remember how you were back in the day). And always help to pick up the balls, move the equipment, and generally roll up your sleeves. We’re all in the trench when you’re on a team.”

Outside of field hockey, the NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #31 (2013) graduate and Judy Sweet Award winner takes a mental break by rock climbing. Her commitment extends to her hobby, as she trains three times per week in a gym and climbs outside on Sundays during the season.

Congratulations, Coach Anne Parmenter, and best of luck in the post-season!

October 2018 – Alicia Galindo
Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach, Cal Poly Pomona

Cal Poly Pomona women’s soccer assistant coach Alicia Galindo is our October ARMS Software Coach of the Month!

Galindo, who is a NCAA Women Coaches Academy graduate (2018 Class #45), has coached for 17 years. What she’s most proud of in that time is the relationships she’s developed with the 500+ young women she has worked with.

While Galindo is serving as a role model for her players, she credits a female coach with greatly influencing her and her career.

“I had a coach who I played for my first two years of college and her name was Debbie Cavion. She was a great coach, very well respected; she had won state titles, and had a top-notch program. Once I was done playing college soccer and getting ready to graduate she had asked if I had a job lined up and what my plans were. Debbie gave me my first opportunity to coach at the collegiate level and it was at Mt. San Antonio College. She mentored me and began to develop the skills I have today as a coach.”

Galindo has been successful in balancing a long coaching career with her family, despite its challenges. When her husband was hired by a fire department in California, they decided to raise their family there, limiting her options for jobs.

Now at Cal Poly Pomona, Galindo is showing that coaches can have a successful career and a family, all while helping her athletes “be better today than they were yesterday.”

Her advice for up-and-coming women coaches:

“I encourage other coaches to be life-long learners, to make connections with other female coaches, to being a great example and to being real. Know what your “WHY” is and always reflect on that. Lead by your core values because you cannot pretend to be someone who you are not. Showing them you can be married, have a family, have a life, and still have fun at work all while being successful. It’s not always easy and I am very thankful for my support system, my family, friends, the coaches, and administration at Cal Poly Pomona because without them I would not be where I am today.”

September 2018 – Nora Boerger
Assistant Women’s Lacrosse Coach, Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University women’s lacrosse assistant coach Nora Boerger is our September ARMS Software Coach of the Month!

It has been a big summer for Boerger, who was named to her position with GVSU in August 2018. In July, Boerger was named an assistant coach for the Swiss Lacrosse Women’s National Team, which is preparing for the ELF Women’s European Championship next July.

Boerger is most proud of continuing to serve as a positive role model for female athletes.

“It is imperative that women coaches continue to exhibit abilities indicative of any leader on an elite level,” Boerger said. “I am proud that I have persevered through trials and triumphs in order to be in a place where I can give back all that was given to me.”

Growing up, both her mother and her high school basketball coach were influential in her development. Her coach instilled the importance of Title IX, her important role as a woman in sport, and taught her to always have a voice.

Boerger echoes similar words of advice for women getting started in coaching:

“The advice I have for up and coming women coaches is to speak up. If you have questions, ask them. If you have an idea, bring it to the table. We all had to start somewhere and sometimes it is a little intimidating to give yourself a voice in certain situations, however, it is important that we do so. Build a network of people who are going to help you develop as a person and as a professional. Have successful mentors in lacrosse and in other sports. Find the person/persons who will push you to be great and stay uncomfortable. Challenges are great! They give us an opportunity to learn and grow. What’s better than that? Have a growth mindset – when you fall down, get back up.”

With so many exciting new endeavors, the NCAA Women Coaches Academy graduate (2017, Class #41) isn’t nervous, as she has confidence in her ability to prepare, relate to people and make adjustments.

“I am most excited about the opportunity, afforded by Mackenzie Lawler, to work with a new program and institution,” said Boerger. “Grand Valley State University is an excellent university that has a rich background in tradition and success. In working with Swiss Lacrosse, I always wanted to coach an international team but thought the opportunity would come at some point down the road. It has been an awesome experience so far and I am grateful for the chance to work with the Women’s National Team.

“My dream is to develop champions for life. If I am successful in doing that, then the rest will take care of itself.”

Congratulations, Coach Nora Boerger, and best of luck in your new positions!

August 2018 – Tammy Farnum
Associate Head Women’s Soccer Coach, Michigan State

Michigan State women’s soccer associate head coach Tammy Farnum is our August ARMS Software Coach of the Month! 2018 will mark Farnum’s 22nd season coaching at her alma mater, where she was a standout defender and co-captain of the Spartans.

Prior to returning to Michigan State, Farnum served as both the head women’s soccer coach and women’s athletic director at Alma College and also coached at East Lansing High School. She is an 18-year Michigan Olympic Development Coach and has led six teams to national championships.

Despite her many achievements, Farnum is most proud of the relationships she’s created throughout her career.

“As the recruiting coordinator for our program I have had the pleasure of building connections with our players during their college journey,” said Farnum. “Whether it was getting to know them in the recruiting process, supporting them during their time as a student athlete, and staying connected as they transition into the next chapter of their lives as alumni.”

This great role model for her student athletes also had a strong female influence in her life – her mother. When Farnum was 16, her mother passed away from cancer, but her impact is clear.

“Her core values still anchor me today,” said Farnum. “Love and appreciate your faith and family, be kind to others and meet them in their moment with patience and understanding, always remember that making someone smile or laugh is a gift that will come back to you.”

Farnum’s advice to up-and-coming coaches echoes those core values she gained through her mother.

“Be kind, be honest and work hard. The coaching profession will be emotional, filled with triumphs and trials and provide you a platform to serve, challenge and support your team in ways that far exceed the playing arena. Put your focus and energy into what you can control and have a plan to deal with the aspects you can not control.”

Farnum is an NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #44 graduate (2017), and the experience had a large impact on her.

“WeCOACH has forever changed my life both personally and professionally,” said Farnum. “WeCOACH has revitalized my passion by providing a level of support I didn’t think was possible to obtain. They have given me new ways to sharpen the tool in my coaching toolbox while also creating a safe, trusted arena to be able to ask for help.

“My dream is that through coaching and sport we be able to strengthen our connections with each other and make this world a better place to live, love and laugh everyday! Turning simple moments into everlasting memories.”

Congratulations, Coach Tammy Farnum, and thank you for being such an inspiration to your student athletes and fellow coaches!

July 2018 – Jennifer Patrick-Swift
Head Softball Coach, North Carolina State

North Carolina State head softball coach Jennifer Patrick-Swift is our July ARMS Software Coach of the Month! Patrick-Swift recently accepted the position at the Power 5 school after leading Saint Francis to back-to-back conference championship titles and NCAA Tournament appearances.

With the move to North Carolina, Patrick-Swift returns home to the state where she played collegiately at Methodist College. She was also a head coach at Chowan University.

Patrick-Swift is most excited to bring the relatively young program back into the national spotlight.

“We are in a great area of the country at a university that is well known academically so we will be able to get in the best people and players from around the country,” said Patrick-Swift. “Having the NC State platform to go alongside my recruiting ideals and coaching style I’m confident will yield results that the Wolfpack community, alumni, and fans will be proud of.”

When reflecting on her career, Patrick-Swift is most proud of the path she took to where she is today. She loves being the underdog, and continues to fight her way towards her ultimate goal – coaching on softball’s biggest stage at the Women’s College World Series.

Getting her start as a graduate assistant at a Division III school, Patrick-Swift has coached at every NCAA level, and takes pride in the hard work that has gotten her to where she is now.

Patrick-Swift’s advice for up-and-coming coaches: “Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t have it all because you can! If you’re someone that wants a family, you CAN make coaching your career and be a mom or a wife! There is really no such thing as ‘work/life balance’ though so it’s best to get rid of that idea from your mind! I like to think of is more as being where my feet are. If I’m in season then I’m naturally going to be spending more time focusing on work, but between seasons and those busy times, I’m able to focus more on being a mom and a wife. I will say, it is not easy! However, you can do it with a strong support system and a constant reminder to be where your feet are!”

Patrick-Swift is an NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #35 graduate (2015) and an Academy 2.0 Class #1 (2017) graduate.

Congratulations, Coach Jennifer Patrick-Swift!

June 2018 – Corliss Fingers
Director of Strength and Conditioning, Bethune-Cookman University

Bethune-Cookman University Director of Strength and Conditioning Corliss Fingers is our June ARMS Software Coach of the Month! Fingers is one of the only female head strength & conditioning coaches in Division I.

In her three years at Bethune-Cookman, Fingers has greatly impacted the Wildcats. She took over working with their FCS football team that was 4-7 in just her second season and helped them win their conference championship.

Prior to arriving at Bethune-Cookman, Fingers coached at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Maryland, and Southern University.

As one of the only females in the lead role in strength and conditioning, Fingers faces a number of challenges every day. Along with finding locker room space to change in, one of the biggest obstacles is “getting young men to buy into my program right away due to the fact they feel you have to have played football in college in order to understand the demand of the sport.”

Having a strong support network around her helps Fingers be her best at work and live out her dreams. Her husband is the Dean of Undergraduate Studies at B-CU and her son is spoiled by everyone in the Athletic Department.

She encourages other women to follow in her footsteps leading by example. “Showing them you can be married, have a family, have a life, and still have fun at work all while being successful.”

Fingers has been influenced greatly by another woman who led by example – her mother, Lennix Ann Wilson. Their barrier-breaking paths are very similar.

Wilson was the only female in her class at Harris Barber College when everyone told her she should go to beauty school instead. She was the only female barber in Orange County in North Carolina.

“Growing up in a house where a women worked in a traditionally male occupation helped me to see no barriers,” Fingers said.

Fingers’ advice for up-and-coming strength and conditioning coaches is to get out of your comfort zone, be willing to learn new things, and grow and evolve in many areas. She also believes coaches should hold firm to their “why.”

Fingers is an NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #43 graduate (2017) and Judy Sweet Award winner.

Congratulations, Coach Corliss Fingers!

May 2018 – Michelle Piantadosi-Lima
Head Volleyball Coach/Senior Woman Administrator, Eckerd College

Eckerd College Head Volleyball Coach Michelle Piantadosi-Lima is our May ARMS Software Coach of the Month! Piantadosi-Lima’s beach volleyball team recently finished the season by advancing to the AVCA Small College Championship and finishing at 17-6, setting a record for the most wins in the program’s four-year history.

Piantadosi-Lima balances coaching both indoor and beach volleyball, and is proud of being the first NCAA Division II program to add a beach volleyball program.

“I knew we would have to push hard to get out in front of other programs,” said Piantadosi-Lima. “We have had to go back to the drawing board and rethink how we do things in order to balance the large number of players that play both sports, but overall the players who helped build the program over the last four years have done an incredible job. One of our former beach players is currently representing her country of Slovenia in the world tour and we have a few others that will continue on and play after they graduate.”

After a successful playing career at Tennessee, Piantadosi-Lima competed professionally in Salzburg, Austria and San Juan, Puerto Rico. She has also played beach volleyball professionally, competing in several AVP tournaments across the country.

Before Eckerd, Piantadosi-Lima coached at East Tennessee State University and Nova Southeastern, where she was recognized by the AVCA as ‘one of the 30 best coaches in the country under the age of 30.’ One of the proudest moments of her career came at Nova Southeastern where she led the team to the Elite 8 after stepping in for her ill head coach during a tough 5-set Sweet 16 match.

Piantadosi-Lima has been shaped by many women, including her mother, grandmother and “countless coaches who have seen something in me worth believing in.”

In a career where she is constantly serving others, Piantadosi-Lima said she is still learning how to take care of herself first in order to be a better coach. Her advice for up-and-coming coaches reflects that important work:

“Remember to enjoy the journey. Work hard but know that your tank is not endless. Fill your soul up with things you enjoy and make sure to spend time with the people you love the most. I believe the key to doing this job for a long time is protecting time for yourself every day so that you can recharge, reflect and dream big.”

Piantadosi-Lima, an NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #30 graduate (2013), also serves as Eckerd’s Senior Woman Administrator. In this role, she is a member of the athletics department senior management team and oversees student-athlete well-being and development and serves as the department’s Title IX.

Congratulations, Coach Michelle Piantadosi-Lima!

April 2018 – Stephanie Wheeler
Head Coach, University of Illinois Women’s Wheelchair Basketball

The University of Illinois Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Head Coach Stephanie Wheeler is our April ARMS Software Coach of the Month! Wheeler was recently named as a 2018 National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) Hall of Fame inductee.

“To me, being inducted into the Hall of Fame means that I’ve been fortunate to have incredible family members, friends, mentors, student-athletes, teammates, and coaches around me who believed in me, set high expectations for me, pushed me, picked me up, and celebrated with me when things went well,” said Wheeler. “However, within that moment of reflection on the amazing opportunities that I’ve had, it also allows me to look to the future, as I know there is so much more that I can do in my sport and for the women and girls who want to play or coach wheelchair basketball (or any sport for that matter).”

Coach Wheeler has found success at the highest level as both a player and a coach. She is a U.S. Paralympic gold medalist as a player (2004, 2008), and also as a head coach (2016). She is on track to earn her PhD in philosophy from the University of Illinois, where she is currently the head coach of the women’s wheelchair basketball team.

Despite her many successes on the court, Wheeler is most proud of the character of the student-athletes who graduate from her program.

“My hope is that while they were at Illinois, they learned they bring value, that they have an incredible opportunity to change perceptions, and that they have a responsibility to give back to our sport and community,” said Wheeler.

Growing up, Wheeler didn’t have many role models of strong disabled women. Seeing basketball legends Sylvia Hatchell and Pat Summitt coaching opened her eyes to the possibility of being a woman with a career in sports. Watching Summitt, she realized that having care and compassion for your student-athletes, and being demanding and holding them to incredibly high standards aren’t mutually exclusive. Celia Slater and Holly Hesse have also played large roles in Wheeler’s career and as a person.

The first woman with a disability Wheeler saw was Deb Sunderman, a legend in women’s wheelchair basketball. She was the first female head coach that Wheeler encountered on the national team, and it was in her that Wheeler saw what she could be someday.

Coach Wheeler is now that person who others look up to. Her advice to up and coming coaches:

“The advice that I have…is to be intentional about the network/circle of influence that you create. I remember feeling isolated and alone as a young coach, and then I found [WeCOACH]. Not only did I meet amazing coaches from every sport across the country, but it also gave me the courage to reach out to the women coaches on my campus at Illinois (as we aren’t a part of our athletic department). Having a network of amazing women to call on when I felt isolated or needed advice has been the most important thing that I have done as a coach.”

Wheeler has previously served on the WeCOACH’s Coaches Council. She is also a graduate of the NCAA Women Coaches Academy (2012 Class #28) and the 2017 inaugural class of Academy 2.0.

Congratulations, Coach Stephanie Wheeler!

March 2018 – Lori Kerans
Former Head Coach, and now the Director of Alumni Engagement, Millikin University Basketball

Millikin’s former Women’s Basketball Head Coach Lori Kerans is our March ARMS Software Coach of the Month! Kerans wrapped up her 32nd season at the helm of the Big Blue with a win over North Park University and announced her retirement from coaching.

Kerans ends her coaching career with a record of 556-276, 11 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Titles and one NCAA Division III National Championship. She will continue to serve her alma mater as the Director of Alumni Engagement.

Throughout her entire career, Kerans is most proud of creating a culture of family, inclusion, and graduates at Millikin.

The Treasurer for WeCOACH’s Board of Directors was shaped by “the pioneering women who were visionary enough to see opportunities where none existed for women, and who were/are strong enough to make those possibilities a REALITY! For each and everyone of us, we have those women in our lives….grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, coaches, teachers, mentors, friends.”

The legendary coach has some great advice for up-and-coming women coaches:

  • Coach for relationships and development, not for trophies and banners
  • Remember to say “I love you”, “I’m proud of you”, and “I’m sorry”
  • Find a “place” that connects with you philosophically and give of your whole self to those people
  • Take care of yourself (spiritually, physically, emotionally).

Only a couple of weeks out of coaching, Kerans isn’t sure what she’ll miss the most yet, but she believes it will be two things: “1) Practice; I love to teach and be a part of developing skills and teams; (2) celebrating with a student-athlete as she graduates!”

Congratulations, Coach Lori Kerans, on an amazing career!

February 2018 – Jeanne Fleck
Head Coach, Fresno State University Swimming & Diving

Fresno State’s Swimming & Diving Head Coach Jeanne Fleck is our February ARMS Software Coach of the Month! Fleck is in her tenth season at Fresno State, where her team just wrapped up their regular season by defeating their Mountain West rival for a second time this year. Her team also once again earned Scholar All-America honors from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA).

Fleck, who started the NCAA Division I program from scratch, will now lead the Dogs into the Mountain West Championship in San Antonio, Texas.

Not only does Fleck have an impact on her student-athletes, but she has also volunteered her time to give back to the profession and help women stay in coaching. Fleck is participating in WeCOACH’s Mentor Program this year as a Gold mentor, working with two mentees.

Jess Mosbaugh (assistant swim coach at Pepperdine), one of the coaches that Fleck is mentoring, had this to say about the veteran coach:

“Jeanne has been a tremendous encouragement for a young collegiate coach in the start of her career. She is patient, understanding, well-spoken and knowledgeable about athletic departments and coaching staffs, as well as the ins and outs of team dynamics. She has helped me in the process of fine-tuning my voice as a coach by having open dialogues that have challenged my viewpoints of coaching. Jeanne has been an amazing connection to have and I am thankful that [WeCOACH] has allowed me the privilege of pairing me up with Jeanne as my mentor.”

Fleck has some wisdom to share with up-and-coming coaches as well. “Please do not be intimidated by jobs or your value as a coach. One thing I learned writing for my Master’s degree is women do not always apply for jobs unless they meet all the qualifications. I say ‘Go for it’ if you have one that you are interested in! You never know until you try!”

Fleck herself had two strong women in her life who greatly influenced her. Her grandmother was “strong and loving all at the same time” and earned her Master’s degree in 1923, a feat that was rare at that time. Kathy Wickstram-Gahen was also a mentor for Fleck and, “…showed me how important it is for women to be mentally coached as well as physically.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise that what she is most proud of in her career is “the impact that I have had on the young people I coach and what they go on and do with their lives.”

Congratulations Jeanne Fleck and thank you for your commitment to women coaches!

January 2018 – Bobbie Kelsey
Assistant Coach, Los Angeles Sparks

Los Angeles Sparks Assistant Coach Bobbie Kelsey is our ARMS Software Coach of the Month for January! In her first year with the WNBA team, Kelsey led the Sparks to the WNBA Finals and an exciting series against the Minnesota Lynx.

WeCOACH’s NCAA Women Coaches Academy faculty member recently shared her experiences with Class #43 and Academy 2.0 at the NCAA WCA. From her time as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers, to her work as an assistant coach, to a year with the Boys and Girls Club, Coach Kelsey has proven an inspiration and a force to be reckoned with on and off the court.

After starring as a player at Stanford University, Coach Kelsey returned to her alma mater 11 years later to work under legend Tara VanDerveer.

“I am most proud of the fact that I could return to Stanford, my alma mater, to help the program return to national prominence by going to four consecutive Final Fours after a 10 year absence,” Coach Kelsey said. “It was a great feeling knowing I could contribute something back to a program that had done so much for me personally as a former team member. Nothing has been more satisfying.”

Coach Kelsey was influenced by another strong woman, her grandmother, Elizabeth C. Fields.

“[She] greatly shaped who I am today because of her courage and perseverance in the face of great odds during her 92 years on earth,” Coach Kelsey said. “She passed away this past January 17th so it has been a hard adjustment knowing I cannot call her or get advice. However, she took risks and avoided the pitfalls of being a young mother can present by never giving up especially on her quest to be educated. She attended night school to receive her high school diploma then graduated with my mother from college. She was relentless which makes me who I am today. I give her all the credit for showing the way to success.”

Now on her own successful path, Coach Kelsey is generous with her time in talking to up-and-coming coaches, and has some great advice for them:

“I would encourage all women coaches to use their voice. To never shrink back in order to accommodate the insecurities of others who cannot handle their strength. It is never the right thing to be quite especially when you have something impactful to share. Also, make sure your story is crafted in a way that shows your authentic self. Who better to tell it than you. No one else can convey what you yourself know best. Use your voice! Loud and proud!”

Congratulations, Coach Bobbie Kelsey!

December 2017 – Tara Zollinger
Head Coach, Shippensburg University Field Hockey

Coach Tara Zollinger (NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #35) is our ARMS Software Coach of the Month for December! In her first year as a head coach, Zollinger led the Shippensburg University field hockey team to an NCAA Division II Championship.

The win makes Zollinger the first person to win an NCAA Division II National Championship in her first year as a collegiate head coach.

Zollinger is no stranger to championships. Prior to taking the helm at Shippensburg, Zollinger spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Syracuse University where she helped her team to a Division I title in 2015. As a player, she won two championships at the University of Maryland.

“When you win as a player, everything feels like it is happening so fast in super speed!” said Zollinger. “You rush the field, you’re screaming with your teammates, there is so much emotion and so much going on. As a coach when the final whistle blows and you see your athletes rush the field everything slows down. Seeing the emotion on the athletes faces, seeing them cry and cheer and laugh all at the same time, it is so rewarding.”

During her time at Syracuse, Zollinger worked under two-time NFHCA Division I National Coach of the Year, Ange Bradley. Bradley has had, and continues to have, a huge influence on Zollinger.

“She took me under her wing as a very young coach and committed to developing and mentoring me,” said Zollinger. “She has challenged me but always believed in my abilities and helped me gain confidence as a coach. I have learned a lot about the game and the coaching profession through my experiences at Syracuse. Ange inspires me to always strive for excellence and never settle for mediocrity.”

Zollinger encourages young coaches to self evaluate to learn, and then develop, their authentic leadership style.

“Be sure to stay true to your values and have a clear picture of your coaching mission,” said Zollinger. “Make sure you use your resources, take advantage of every opportunity and observe/shadow other coaches. Have a ‘do your best mentality’ where you wake up with ambition and go to bed with satisfaction.”

Congratulations, Coach Tara Zollinger!

November 2017 – Becky Burleigh
Head Coach, University of Florida Women’s Soccer

Coach Becky Burleigh (NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #24) is our ARMS Software Coach of the Month for November! Burleigh recently hit 400 wins when her Gators earned a 2-1 win over Missouri. This also marked UF women’s soccer’s 400th win, as Burleigh has led the program since it began in 1995.

Burleigh hits the impressive milestone in an already decorated career, which includes an NCAA Championship, two NCAA College Cup appearances, 14 Southeastern Conference titles and 20 NCAA Championships berths. She has also been named National (1998) and SEC Coach of the Year (2012, ‘10, ‘08, ‘00 & ’96).

Despite the many accolades, the NCAA Women Coaches Academy faculty member is most proud of maintaining a healthy culture of player and personal development while sustaining a high level of on the field success.

Burleigh had female role models from early on in her career. Her first two coaches in youth soccer were women, including her high school coach, so, she learned early that women could coach, unlike most of her peers who had only male coaches.

Her advice to other coaches? “Be a life-long learner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to other coaches, in and out of your sport. Ask a lot of questions.”

Congratulations Coach Burleigh!

October 2017 – Debbie Kiick
Head Coach, Millikin University Volleyball

Coach Debbie Kiick (2016 NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #39) is our ARMS Software Coach of the Month for October! Kiick surpassed 400 career wins at Millikin with two victories during the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Invitational September 8-9. She is currently in her 17th season directing the Big Blue volleyball program, and her career mark stands at 401-207 (.660).

Some of Kiick’s proudest moments include breaking a 50-match conference winning streak of a conference rival, and coming from behind in the 5th set (down 14-8 in a set to 15) and coming back to win the match and advance to the sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Additionally, Kiick prides herself on her desire to continue growing as a coach after 37 years in the profession, being someone her peers can count on when they need something, and that her athletes graduate, get quality jobs and go on to have successful careers.

A number of women have greatly influenced Kiick. One in particular is Margie Wright, former Head Softball Coach at Fresno State and Illinois State. Wright’s encouraging words early in Kiick’s career ignited her incredibly successful career. Kiick also credits her peer Lori Kerans – Kiick’s “go to” – as a great role model. Additionally, Millikin’s Katie Tenboer and Whitney Sowers have given her valuable insight on team development.

Coach Debbie Kiick’s advice to up-and-coming coaches:

  • Gathering information from people you respect is a great way to improve your program. What you learn can help you by:
    • Understanding that you are on the right track, build your confidence, and that things will work out
    • Understanding that there is a different way for you to consider; it’s ok to stick with what you believe, but ask, listen, and consider pros and cons before you make a final decision.
  • Develop leaders within your program to put out the small fires so you can focus on the larger issues. It helps you and it helps develop more female leaders.
  • Be sure to make time for your family and the special events that are important to your family. It’s easy to get consumed with only work… but if you want to stay in the profession for the long haul, you need to be sure to enjoy the other aspects of your life that are important!
  • And last but not least…. Don’t lecture your team for a long time after a loss! They are just as frustrated and disappointed as you are. 2 minutes is plenty after a match…. Instead sleep on it, come up with your plan, and address it when they are fresher and more ready to listen.

We couldn’t be more proud of Coach Kiick as she hit this milestone and continues to lead the young women at Millikin. Congratulations, Debbie!

September 2017 – Shonda Stanton
Head Coach, Indiana University Softball

Coach Shonda Stanton (NCAA Women Coaches Academy Class #36) is our ARMS Software Coach of the Month for September! Stanton was just named the new head softball coach at Indiana University after serving as head coach at Marshall for 18 seasons.

Stanton was also recently featured on the ‘On Deck with NFCA’ podcast. Listen to the episode here.

At Marshall, she became the winningest coach in program history with 560 victories and has posted 12 seasons with 30 or more wins. Despite those great stats, Stanton is most proud of developing people.

“My greatest accomplishments all center around building young people into strong, confident women,” said Stanton. “I am most proud of the relationships cultivated having mentored over a 100 student-athletes during my tenure at Marshall.”

As she takes over the Hoosier program, Stanton is excited to work with the players and compete in the Big Ten against phenomenal coaches and athletes.

“The opportunity to create a sustainable culture at a University where the brand is synonymous with a tradition of excellence is exhilarating.”

What advice does Stanton have for up-and-coming women coaches? She has a lot of words of wisdom:

“Bloom where you are planted! Get involved in organizations like [WeCOACH] and your sport association. Instead of getting lost in plans or preparation, w.i.n. the day by focusing on what is important now. Connect with others and be intentional about it from picking up the phone for a brief chat to attending professional workshops. Be grateful and encourage others. You are a priority and need to schedule time for you, so you can bring your best and bring it often. Know your values and develop a small, strong inner circle of people that can help guide, encourage and challenge you. Stay in love with the game; I get to lace up my sneakers every day and play outside in the dirt -total fun zone. Think about what you get to do? I love this quote: ‘A strong woman knows she has strength for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong.’ Go coach your team and enjoy the journey!”

We are excited for Shonda in her new role at Indiana, and we can’t wait to see what an incredible legacy she will build there. Congratulations, Shonda!

August 2017 – Colleen Murphy
Head Coach, U.S. Air Force Academy Women’s Swimming Team

Coach Colleen Murphy (NCAA WCA Class #38) is our ARMS Software Coach of the Month for August! Colleen was recently promoted to head coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy after serving for five years there as an assistant and associate coach. The first female swimming coach to win an NCAA national championship, Colleen has continued her success at the prestigious military academy. In her first five years there, the Falcon women have broken every school record on the books. Colleen has had an exciting journey through coaching, earning three national titles at Truman State and NCAA Division II Coach of the Year honors. She took some time off from the profession, and then returned to the high school level as the head coach at Xavier College Prep in Phoenix, AZ. After being out of college coaching for 7 years, Colleen said it’s been a long path getting to where she is now, but it’s a perfect fit for her.

Colleen’s time away from college coaching opened her eyes that it was time to start giving back more. While there are a lot of developmental women coaches in swimming, they are few and far between at the collegiate and elite levels. With great women mentors in her early coaching years, and a coach who took a chance on her to bring her back to college coaching, Colleen sees helping out other women coaches as a part of her new role. She has seen countless women leave the field because they thought they couldn’t have it all. “I have two kids, a family, a husband and I’m the primary breadwinner. It is possible to have it all and to be good at it all. I really want to help other women in the field to know that they can do it.”

We are excited for Colleen to take on this new challenge, and are incredibly proud of her work to support her fellow women coaches.

July 2017 – Jennifer Ridgely
Equestrian Head Coach, Delaware State University

Coach Jennifer Ridgely (NCAA WCA Class #39) is our first ARMS Software Coach of the Month! In her 11th season at Delaware State, Jennifer was voted Coach of the Year for her university and her conference. Entering the conference championship seeded 4th, her team won and earned an automatic bid to the national championship. On top of their athletic success, her team also won the NCEA (National Collegiate Equestrian Association) Team Sportsmanship award.

Jennifer led her team to these successes, all while undergoing 16 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy and multiple rounds of radiation for breast cancer. “A breast cancer diagnosis is certainly a scary thing to hear but I just took it in stride as I would a meet the team lost and went to work on what appointments needed to be made and used the same work ethic and determination with my team and it worked,” said Jennifer. “I was successful beating cancer and the team was successful winning meets! I believe everything is a life lesson and this year certainly had its highs and lows, but I kept moving forward and kept my eye on the prize! Cancer free and a winning team! Not to mention taking my wig off and swinging it around was very motivational for the team!”

We couldn’t be more proud of all of her successes and the role model she continues to be for her athletes.