Being first can be daunting.
It’s intimidating because no one before you has done what you are trying to do. There’s no road map to keep you on track.
But it’s also exhilarating to create the map for others and to leave an indelible mark on everything that follows.
“I am excited to be at the forefront of Augsburg College’s varsity women’s lacrosse team,” said Coach Kathryn Knippenberg. “I’m looking forward to building a team that knows winning is as much about team chemistry and bonds as it is about the stick.”
It’s not just that Knippenberg is Augsburg’s first women’s collegiate varsity lacrosse coach.
It’s bigger than that. Knippenberg is the first women’s collegiate varsity lacrosse coach at any college in Minnesota, and at the one that launched in 1995 the first women’s collegiate varsity hockey team.
“It’s an honor to help pioneer this great sport,” Knippenberg said. “Getting to lead at a place that believes in the value of women’s athletics is thrilling and challenging.”
Knippenberg, who as a student at the University of Minnesota was captain and president of the school’s club lacrosse team, said the commitment that Augsburg is making to lacrosse has significant meaning for student athletes.
“Auggie athletes won’t have to spend time like my college club team did on fundraising for equipment and travel. They won’t have to worry about budgets and scheduling practice and game time,” she said.
“They just have to show up, practice, and play hard. My job is about having things in place so our student athletes can improve their skills on the field, and to help make sure they stay on track and are achieving in the classroom.”
Jeff Swenson, athletic director for the College, said Knippenberg is accomplished in Minnesota’s fast-growing lacrosse community and that the players will benefit from her experience and leadership.
“Coach Knippenberg will lead us in realizing our goal of expanding opportunities for women, and continuing to prepare them for success beyond Augsburg,” Swenson said.
“These student athletes will develop their skills on the field, and carry into life and work valuable lessons about how to balance multiple priorities and to work as part of a diverse team.”
Knippenberg said her primary work now is focused on recruiting and preparing for the first sanctioned and regulated games scheduled for spring 2014.
“I hope the community comes out to watch our games. It’s fast paced and intense,” she said.
“Whether the team wins or loses, one thing is sure: Everyone in the stands will be part of something bigger. We’ll all be making history as Augsburg continues to blaze a new trail for women’s varsity athletics in Minnesota.”
Knippenberg has served as head lacrosse coach at Academy of Holy Angels since 2009, is cofounder and president of the North Central Women’s Lacrosse League, and works with Winning For Life, an organization that develops positive leadership and life skills through sports.
BY STEPHANIE WEISS