Notre Dame head coach Tracy Coyne enters her 15th season directing the Fighting Irish women's lacrosse program. As the only coach in the team's Division I history, Coyne has seen the program come a long way. From the first steps of making the jump from a club program, to leading Notre Dame to its first Final Four appearance in 2006 and a BIG EAST Championship in 2009, Coyne has been there every step of the way.
The veteran coach has now seen her team make the NCAA tournament six times in the last nine years, including three straight appearances from 2008 to 2010. In 2006, she saw the Irish engineer the biggest turnaround in NCAA women's lacrosse history, going from 3-12 in 2005 to 15-4 in 2006.
Coyne has been the guiding force as Irish women's lacrosse has moved from a first-year varsity program in 1997 to one of the top programs in the nation in 2011.
From her first days as the Irish head coach, Coyne and her coaching staff laid the groundwork that led to the success the program has achieved in its first 14 years of existence.
Since 2006, Coyne's teams have put together a 65-29 record (.691) with four NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the final four in 2006 and a BIG EAST title in 2009.
Over the past two seasons, Coyne has developed three first team IWLCA All-Americans (Jackie Doherty in 2010 and Jillian Byers '09 and Shannon Burke `09, following the 2009 season) and three second team choices with Shaylyn Blaney taking honors in `09 and `10 and Gina Scioscia `09.
Doherty and Blaney led the 2010 team to an 11-7 mark and a second-place finish in the BIG EAST a year ago. The Irish went on to play the longest game in the history of the BIG EAST Tournament, falling to Syracuse, 12-11, in four overtimes in the tourney semifinals. From there, Notre Dame made its third straight NCAA appearance, falling in the opening round at Northwestern.
The 2009 Irish set a variety of school records on the way to a 16-5 record and the program's first BIG EAST championship.
Led by four All-Americans - Shannon Burke, Jillian Byers, Shaylyn Blaney and Gina Scioscia - the Irish advanced to the NCAA Tournament, defeating Vanderbilt at home before falling at North Carolina in the quarterfinals.
Byers closed her Notre Dame career as BIG EAST co-attack player of the year and a Tewaaraton Trophy finalist.
In 2008, Coyne's squad was led by a pair of All-Americans - Caitlin McKinney (first team) and Jillian Byers (second team) - and finished the year with a 12-7 overall record. McKinney was named the BIG EAST midfielder of the year with Coyne taking conference coach of the year honors for the third time.
Notre Dame was 4-1 in the conference and played in its second BIG EAST Championship tournament, this one hosted by the Irish at historic Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, dropping a 15-7 decision to top-ranked Northwestern in Evanston, Ill.
McKinney and Byers led the 2007 team to an 11-6 overall record and a 3-2 mark in the BIG EAST. That qualified Notre Dame for a berth in the first BIG EAST Tournament held in Syracuse, N.Y.
The Irish also accomplished something in 2007 that no BIG EAST team had ever done to that point as they dealt Georgetown its first regular season loss since the BIG EAST began play in 2001.
The current five-year run of success started in 2006 as the Irish rebounded from a 3-12 season in 2005 to go 15-4 and advance to the Final Four. The record-setting turnaround included a 4-1 record in the BIG EAST and a 7-4 mark against nationally ranked teams.
The Irish would host a pair of NCAA Tournament games, defeating BIG EAST foe Georgetown (first time in eight tries) in the quarterfinals to move on to the NCAA finals.
Foote became the first Irish player to be named All-American twice in her career, taking first team honors in 2006 and was the program's first Tewaaraton Trophy finalist. Freshman Jillian Byers was a second team All-American and McKinney took third team honors.
Through all the success and growing pains, Coyne has been the one constant the program has had.
Hired in July of 1996, the Pittsburgh, Pa., native quickly spread the word about the Notre Dame women's lacrosse program, put together a team that fashioned a 5-4 record during the 1997 season, and assembled a top-notch recruiting class that included four high school All-Americans.
She followed her inaugural season with a 7-6 mark in 1998, including wins against two teams that had beaten the Irish in 1997 - Ohio State and Davidson.
The 1999 Irish continued their ascent with nine wins against an enhanced schedule, while the 2000 team completed one of the toughest schedules in the country with a 5-10 mark.
In 2001, the Irish served notice to the women's lacrosse world that Notre Dame was ready to become a prime-time player on a national level.
In the first year of competition in the BIG EAST, the Irish were 10-5 overall and finished third with a 4-2 mark in conference play.
Late in the season, Notre Dame moved into the national rankings after road wins against 17th-ranked Delaware and seventh- ranked Yale. The Irish finished the year ranked 18th in the nation.
The 2002 season saw the Irish ranked for the first time in the preseason, set records for wins (13) and BIG EAST wins (5) and finished the year seventh in the nation. That season also produced the first two All-Americans in the program's history - Kathryn Lam and Danielle Shearer - plus a first-ever berth in the NCAA tournament.
In 2003, the Irish finished the campaign ranked 16th with an 8-7 record capped by a four-game winning streak to end the year. Three Irish players - Andrea Kinnik, Danielle Shearer and Jen White - received various media and national All-America honors.
The 2004 campaign saw Coyne recognized by her peers as the BIG EAST coach of the year as her team finished the year ranked ninth in the nation in the IWLCA coaches' poll with a 12-5 mark. The Irish lost in the first round of the NCAAtournament at Northwestern and achieved its highest ranking ever as they moved to No. 2 on April 11. Three more players joined the list of Irish All-Americans as Andrea Kinnik, Abby Owen and Meredith Simon all received honors with Simon becoming the program's first, first-team All-American.
Four consecutive seasons of success hit a bump in the road in 2005 as the Irish struggled to a 3-12 record. Crysti Foote was named third-team All-American and freshman Caitlin McKinney was selected to the U.S. National Developmental Team.
On the international level, Coyne spent seven years (1999-05) as the head coach of the Canadian women's lacrosse team, guiding Canada to fourth-place finishes in the World Cup in 2001 and 2005.
Admired by her coaching peers, there is little doubt Coyne has the Notre Dame women's lacrosse program headed in the right direction. Her accomplishments and success at the Division III level reflect the effort, dedication and passion she has for the sport.
Prior to coming to Notre Dame, Coyne spent seven years as head coach at Roanoke College (1990-96) and two seasons at Denison College (1988-89).
At Roanoke, Coyne served as head coach of both the women's lacrosse and field hockey teams. In seven seasons, her lacrosse teams compiled a 91-21 record for an .813 winning percentage. She led her squads to the NCAA Division III tournament five times, with her 1992 and 1990 teams earning appearances in the national semifinals. Under Coyne, the 1990 Division III Coach of the Year, the Maroons won five Old Dominion Conference championships, including three straight titles from 1994-96. She also claimed ODAC coach-of-the-year honors in 1990 and 1995.
During her tenure at Roanoke, Coyne produced 22 All-Americans, including 12 first-team selections. In her first season at the school (1990), her team finished with a 17-1 record and advanced to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA semifinals. In 1995, one of her players earned national goalkeeper-of-the-year accolades. She also had four players garner ODAC player-of-the-year honors during her tenure.
Her field hockey teams also achieved success, as she guided the school to its first-ever national ranking in that sport.
Prior to taking over at Roanoke, Coyne served as head lacrosse and field hockey coach at Denison. In two seasons there, her lacrosse teams compiled a 23-5 record and won back-to-back North Coast Athletic Conference titles. In her first season at Denison, she guided the squad to a 13-3 mark and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. In addition, her efforts earned her NCAC coach-of-the-year accolades.
In 23 seasons as a head coach, her lacrosse teams have a combined 251-115 record (.686) and have won 10-plus games in 17 of those seasons.
She starts the 2011 season as the 10th winningest coach of all-time by wins (251) and is 29th in winning percentage (.686). Among active Division I head coaches, Coyne is third in wins and seventh in winning percentage.
Coyne served as an assistant coach for the United States women's lacrosse team in 1992 and has been a selector for that squad on three occasions. She chaired the Brine Division III national coaches' poll and is currently the Division I representative to the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches' Association's Board of Directors. She also has chaired the NCAA West/Midwest Regional Advisory Committee and currently chairs the IWLCA's All-American committee.
A 1983 graduate of Ohio University, Coyne received her bachelor of science degree in organizational communications. A letter winner in both lacrosse and field hockey, Coyne helped the lacrosse squad to the 1982 Midwest Regional championship as well as an eighth-place finish at the AIAW National Lacrosse Championships. In 1981, she led her field hockey team to a share of the Mid-American Conference title.
Coyne served as senior class vice-president at Ohio and was the recipient of the Leona Hughes Pace Award, which is presented annually by the Student Alumni Board to the outstanding senior at the school.
She then attended graduate school at St. Thomas University (Fla.) where she received a master of science degree in sports administration in May of 1985.
After graduating, Coyne was an administrative assistant in the University of Pittsburgh athletic department and an assistant lacrosse and field hockey coach at Sewickley Academy in Sewickley, Pa.