Meet Carly Ritchlin: Women’s lacrosse head coach
Meet Carly Ritchlin: Women’s lacrosse head coach
This seasoned coach focuses on motivation, team culture, and positively influencing young lives
Carly Ritchlin became head coach for women’s lacrosse in August 2021, leading a roster of 30 athletes. “I’m excited to build a program around such strong women,” she says. “My focus is on developing a foundation for success—building a team culture, motivating the players, and being a positive influence in their lives.”
Over the course of her 20-year coaching career, including 18 at nearby SUNY Geneseo, Ritchlin has stacked up more than 200 victories. She ranks among the top 20 active coaches in Division III in career wins.
“I’m looking forward to continuing the growth of our program and our players, on and off the field,” she says. “Rochester is so full of opportunity, and I am impressed with its commitment to students, academics, and athletics.”
Ritchlin is motivated by the potential she sees, the passion of the team, and the way the University of Rochester community has welcomed her. Joining the Rochester Athletics coaching staff was a bit of a surprise to her. The former head lacrosse coach, Sue Behme, told Ritchlin of her plans to take another job and invited her to campus, thinking that this could be a great fit for her.
“She showed me all of the tremendous resources, including how the team gets the support of an assistant, a strength and conditioning coach, a sports psychologist, and a nutritionist,” says Ritchlin. “I was energized, and something clicked in me. I believed in what I saw happening here and knew I could add value and be successful here.”
Getting in the game
Ritchlin has always loved sports. In high school, she played both soccer and lacrosse. A knee injury took her out of one soccer season and prompted her to focus on lacrosse. As a 2001 Cortland graduate, Ritchlin was a four-year letter-winner, a two-year starter, and captain during her senior campaign for the Red Dragons. She majored in exercise science and aspired to become a strength conditioning coach at a Division I school.
An internship at RIT changed that. She worked with several teams, designing strength programs and developing agility workouts. Administration noticed her and offered her a part-time lacrosse coaching position. Ritchlin loved it. They then asked her to take on the head coach position for the spring season. “That job set me on the course of my career,” she says. “It gave me the experience to get the Geneseo coaching position.”
Enjoying the wins
Winning, to Ritchlin, comes in all forms, big and small. For instance, it comes when making connections with the team. “In one of our first workouts, I think I surprised the team with how enthusiastically I jumped into the motivational speaker role,” says Ritchlin. “They fed off of it, and still do. I like to tell them that they have another gear in them—they just need to find it and cultivate it. We all do.”
Her favorite part of the job? The relationships. “When I was 24 and coaching, my favorite part was winning,” she says. “But now, at 44, it’s about having a positive impact on these women. I take that seriously. If you take lacrosse out of the equation, I want them to leave here after four years as better people. If I can help them hone their strengths and great qualities while challenging them in the process, we’re all better off, as a team and as people.”
Personal: Lives in Penfield with her husband, Scott; 15-year-old daughter, Mia; and 12-year old son, Ryan
Favorite activities (outside of coaching): I attend as many of my kids sporting events as possible. Ryan is a travel baseball player and Mia is on an Olympic development soccer team. I am also obsessed with landscaping, and I love golf.
Biggest challenge you’ve overcome and how you did it: I lost both my parents when they were young. My dad was 56 and my mom was 60. I draw on the amazing childhood they gave me and my three sisters. I think having gone through such loss helps me appreciate my family, my friends, and my lacrosse community even more.
One think you’ve wanted to do but never have: Jump out of an airplane—that would be amazing.
Something you can’t live without: Music. It filled the house growing up and today I love all genres. Right now, I’m really into Tina Turner. My daughter is starting to sing along to her, too.
What would surprise people to know about you? I played the trumpet throughout middle and high school and was in the jazz band.
A favorite saying: I have two. The first is “this is the hand you are dealt and it’s up to you how you want to play it.” I tell that to my kids and my players—we all have choices. Let’s make the best ones. The other is “it’s okay to make a mistake, but don’t make it twice.” I underscore this, too, that we have to make mistakes—it’s how we grow.
Every day I look forward to . . . ? Interacting with people. I have great connections in my life, and I love waking up and thinking “who will I get a text from today?”
What are you reading? I’m just starting The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, which is about harnessing the core principles that drive success. I don’t read books for leisure; I like to read for information and inspiration.
—Kristine Kappel Thompson, July 2022