Kathryn Egizi, Emerson’s new women’s lacrosse coach, will see some familiar faces on April 15—her former team, the Wellesley College Blue. Until last June, Egizi was one of their assistant coaches.
The Blue also play in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference, and their head coach Julia McPhee—Egizi’s old boss—said the Lions are in good shape with its new coach.
“She’s going to make Emerson a real contender in the NEWMAC,” McPhee said in a phone interview. “It’s kind of scary to have her leading the team, but they’re just going to get better and better after each year.”
Egizi, 25, graduated from Union College in 2012 with a double major in biology and French. She said, however, her lacrosse season has had more of an impact on her career than her degree.
“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do [after graduation], and I was captain of my [lacrosse] team,” said Egizi, 25. “My head coach actually, in a conversation about my future, said, ‘You know, why don’t you look into coaching, you’d be great at it.’ So I applied for a few jobs and something worked out.”
That first job Egizi accepted after graduating was assistant coaching at Wellesley. After a couple seasons with the Blue, Egizi said something clicked.
“I realized that I wanted to pursue [coaching] more seriously,” said Egizi. “I started looking for other opportunities to further my career.”
Egizi was planning on returning as an assistant coach, but said McPhee told her about the Emerson position opening up.
About a week after Egizi accepted the job last July, she said was already on her way to Virginia to lay the groundwork for her new gig.
“I had to hit the ground running with recruiting,” said Egizi. “I spent all of August emailing and calling every person that ever picked up a stick and tried to see what I could do.”
Egizi said lacrosse has been a major part of her life since she started playing about 15 years ago. She played on the lacrosse team at Union, a Division III school, all four years. During her playing career, the Dutch finished in the top two of their conference three times, according to the Liberty League’s website.
“[Egizi] is really able to take her own recent experience as a player and let that help her as as a coach,” said McPhee, who was named the conference coach of the year in 2009. “She has great knowledge of the game, and can convey that with a lot of passion in a positive way.”
Egizi said she enjoys the flexibility that athletics programs have at Division III schools.
“I love coaching [this level], because I don’t have to be a drill sergeant,” she said. “I can have the team come into my office and have serious or personal conversations, but then we can have fun conversations and be more than just a coach—[I can] be a mentor for them.”
With many of the team’s players in their early 20s, Egizi said she feels some pressure because of the small age difference between the coach and her team.
“It can be tough sometimes; I feel like I have to work a little bit harder to gain their trust and respect as a leader,” said Egizi. “But, for the most part, I think I have a group that was very welcoming to me as a young coach, wanted to respect me, and wanted me as a leader.”
Sophomore Gabi Cohen, a midfielder, said she likes that her coach is only a few years older than her.
“It’s really easy for us to open up to her and talk to her,” said Cohen, a visual and media arts major. “But obviously we still respect her, because she demands respect without being overbearing or overpowering.”
The first time Egizi met what would become her new team was last season, when the Blue beat the Lions 12-10 on April 12. Wellesley finished a spot ahead of Emerson in the NEWMAC standings.
Egizi has already seen her former team once this year at an informal scrimmage between the two schools this past weekend, where Wellesley walked away with the win. She is scheduled to see them again during the regular season on April 15.
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun,” said Egizi. “I really hope we can get the win in that game. Regardless of my experience with them, it will be a very important game for us.”
Though Egizi was a collegiate athlete just three years ago, she said her experiences at Wellesley, and playing the sport, have prepared her well.
“Even though things have happened kind of quickly,” said Egizi, “it’s made it a pretty easy transition to kind of flow one step away from the team, and one step to that ultimate leadership position.”
Cohen said she has already felt Egizi’s impact.
“She’s definitely influenced how much I love playing lacrosse, how much I love my team, and how dedicated I am to the sport,” said Cohen. “She makes us want to live up to her standard.”