With the spring 2012 season fast approaching, the SUNY New Paltz Lacrosse team welcomes Liz Student as its new head coach. Student is the second head coach in program history since being reinstated in 2008.
After a search that began midway through the fall 2011 semester, an announcement made by Nphawks on Dec. 21 said Student would become the coach after former Head Coach Heather Semelmacher was offered the head coach position at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College in California. Previously, Student was an assistant coach for University of Redlands in California.
“When we first heard of Coach Student during the interviewing process, we were really impressed by her body of work, not only as an assistant coach, but as a student athlete as well,” Director of Athletics Stuart Robinson said. “She also brings a great energy and attitude to the program, which is something we always look for.”
Student, who grew up in Ithaca, N.Y., picked up playing lacrosse as a kid after watching her brother play.
“I thought he was the coolest, so I wanted to do whatever he did,” Student said. “Lacrosse is a sport where if you’re fast and athletic, you excel, and it was also something new for me to do. It was the fun, new exciting sport for me to do that I was good at.”
Growing up, Student was also a soccer player and played the sport year-round. When it came time to decide which college she would attend, there was a debate as to whether she would choose soccer or lacrosse or possibly both while at school.
“Lacrosse was something I was always passionate about and it always made me happy,” Student said. “I always knew that I wanted to be a coach and had been coaching ever since I was in middle school.”
Student played as a defender for Nazareth College and was on the 2005 and 2006 championship teams. Student also garnered numerous individual accolades, including being named an Empire 8 first-team conference all-star in 2006.
While the team’s performance on the field is key, Student said she will also stress the importance of the work the team does in the classrooms. Student’s father is a statistics and biometry professor at Cornell University.
“My parents understood that I loved being athletic and playing sports and they supported me,” Student said. “However, they also harped on academics being very important. I knew growing up that not doing well in school meant not going to practice. When it comes down to it, academics are what’s most important for the girls on the team.”
In spring 2010, the Hawks had their best record to date, finishing the season 7-10 overall. The Hawks are looking to take the program to the next level this season, and second-year defender Maggie Rose Melito said she was impressed upon meeting Student, who she believes will help the team reach their goals.
“I love her already,” Melito said. “I think she’s going to have us play a smarter, more structured kind of lacrosse. She definitely has a really good head on her shoulders and came into this knowing exactly what she was doing.”
For Student, coming into such a young program is something she’s always dreamed of doing.
“I’ve always wanted to develop a newer program,” Student said. “The program has only been reinstated for three years now. It’s definitely going through some growing pains, but we’re going to turn the corner and have a great season.”