When Brianne Tierney accepted Kent State’s offer to become the inaugural coach of the Kent State Women’s Lacrosse team, she knew that it would come with “more pressure” than the last time she started a college lacrosse program.
Lebanon Valley College hired Tierney as coach and tasked her with starting the school’s lacrosse program.
“When I was hired at Lebanon Valley College, I was hired in August and we were playing that spring, so it was just finding kids on campus who had heard of the sport, essentially,” Tierney said at a press conference on Tuesday. “The opportunity here has a lot more resources behind it, but with that comes a little bit more pressure. You hope that early on you can get the talent that is going to compete quickly at a high division one level. A lot of that with recruiting now is taking a chance on kids.”
She eventually found her footing with the Dutchmen and led them to a 9-8 record in 2012, which earned her Commonwealth Coach of the Year honors. She then served as the director of Lacrosse Operations at the University of Denver.
Her father, Bill Tierney, currently serves as the men’s lacrosse coach at the University of Denver and was part of the reason Tierney showed an interest in lacrosse from such a young age.
“I always see being the daughter of a coach is one of the greatest way to grow up,” she said. “Growing up my dad was the men’s lacrosse coach at Princeton, so I was always around (lacrosse).”
Tierney’s family lineage also played a role in her becoming coach at Kent State, as Janet Kittell — who serves as the deputy director of athletics as well as the overseer of women’s lacrosse — knows Bill Tierney from his prior coaching experience.
“(Bill) was at Princeton winning championships when I was supervising both men and women’s lacrosse at Syracuse,” Kittell said. “The Princeton men’s program and Syracuse men’s program traded national championships pretty regularly.”
Tierney’s brothers both coached lacrosse at some point in their lives, and her husband, Dylan Sheridan, is currently the lacrosse coach at Cleveland State University. Sheridan has a connection to Ohio, attending high school at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio.
Recruiting-wise, Tierney will be in a tough spot, as she realizes that the situation she’s coming into is a unique one.
“On the women’s lacrosse side of things there are many new programs, but I think Kent State separates itself because it’s a great university with so many academic programs that student-athletes can get excited about,” Tierney said. “First as a coach you are selling your program … and we want to be doing early.”
Kittell said the roster will eventually have between 30-35 players on the roster, but at first, they’ll have a number closer to 25-30 players. The team will have 12 scholarships to give out.
Kittell also mentioned she had been in contact with soccer coach Rob Marinaro about bringing in two-sport athletes and admitted Tierney will be “behind the eight-ball” when it comes to recruiting, but Tierney believes it’s a challenge that she’ll be able to manage.
“Certainly, the right plan is in place for me to follow, and to continue building on this foundation that (Kittell and athletic director Joel Nielsen) have started,” Tierney said. “Obviously, that’s the hope when you come in, that all the ducks are in a row for a program like this to get going, and I’m confident that they are.”
There are currently 13 conferences for Division 1 women’s lacrosse, and the Flashes will be joining one of those divisions.
“(We) Applied for membership in a conference and, stay tuned, I think we’ll be able to announce our acceptance next week,” Kittell said.
The team is guaranteed six home games, which will be played on the new AstroTurf on Murphy-Mellis field, which is where the field hockey team currently plays.
Tierney’s hiring brings to end a national search that was put out for the coach, one that Kittell felt gave them the best coach for their program.
“We did a national search, and when you feel like you know who you have the right person, you always think and hope that if there’s a better candidate out there that (they) emerges,” Kittell said before looking at Tierney.
“Here she is.”
Henry Palattella is the sports editor, contact him at [email protected]