by Jonathan Geissler
Mount Saint Mary College is pleased to announce a strong start to the athletic season with the appointment of three new head coaches. Lauren Holzberg has taken up the reins as coach of the women’s tennis program. The Mount also welcomed Julia Steese as the women’s lacrosse coach, and Danielle Linder to lead the men’s and women’s swimming programs.
Holzberg takes over for Lorraine Brady, who retired following a distinguished ten-year career at the Mount. As a starter at Division I Penn State University, and after accruing more than 50 singles wins in her career, Holzberg was named Academic All-Big Ten. She then went on to win the Big-Ten Scholar-Athlete Award. Succeeding her time as assistant coach for Division III Wellesley College in 2009-10, she has spent the last two seasons serving as assistant coach for the women’s tennis team at the University of Albany. She now brings her experience and expertise to the Mount’s courts.
“I’m extremely excited for this season,” Holzberg declared. “This is a great opportunity, and the whole experience so far has been really good. We had a great win against Bard on Wednesday, and everyone was encouraged by that. It was great having all the girls on the team playing that match to get ready for the conference.”
The first conference match takes place this upcoming Saturday, and there is firm reason to believe that the team is more than up for the challenge. The girls are unbeaten this season heading into the first big conference match-up. Coach Holzberg has prepared them well and notes progress made since the start of preseason. With quality returning players to go along with talented new freshmen, she maintains that this could finally be the year the Knights go undefeated.
“I really think we can do it this year,” she affirmed. “The two teams that we lost to last year, we beat this year, and it’s all coming together. But I think the biggest thing is to win the conference matches and get the automatic bid at the NCAAs.”
Given Holzberg’s smooth transition and the players’ response with four straight wins, a spot at the NCAAs seems likely. From there, anything is possible.
Meanwhile, Julia Steese, a three-year standout in lacrosse at New Hampshire’s Colby-Sawyer College, assumes the head coaching position for the Knights women’s lacrosse program. Most recently, she served as the assistant coach at Norwich University in Vermont. During her tenure, she helped the Cadets to consecutive Great Northeast Championships and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament. Norwich went an impressive 14-2 during the 2012 season.
Now as full head coach of the Knights, Steese will look to build on what she asserts to be a solid foundation already in place. Although the program is young, she remains optimistic about the Knights’ chances this season.
“It has been very good so far,” Steese said. “Mount Saint Mary College is a wonderful place to work and compete. It not only fosters an atmosphere which challenges the student-athlete, but also creates a supportive environment which allows each of them to succeed.”
While the season does not begin until February, her team is hard at work in preseason, and, according to Steese, looking very solid. “I think the team is doing a great job at adjusting to a new coach and doing well every day,” she acknowledged.
The first preseason tournament is scheduled for October when Steese and her team will finally put to test the hard work they have done over the past month.
Finally, the Mount is expecting good things from the men’s and women’s swimming teams with the hiring of Danielle Linder. A four-year letter winner and team captain for the SUNY New Paltz swim team, Lindner claimed individual SUNYAC championships in 2003 and 2005. She was subsequently hired as the assistant coach for New Paltz, during which the team garnered five All-American honors and an individual national championship in 2007. She then served as the head coach at Allegheny College for three years, leading the program to 12 varsity records. Throughout the process, she coached an individual NCAC champion, a two-time All American, and multiple all-conference swimmers.
Now heading the swim program at the Mount, she cannot wait for the season launch today at their first official meet of the year. “As I have begun to plan my goals for the team, I see great things for the future,” remarked Lindner. Noting the gifted and diverse coaching staff surrounding her, she is looking to take the teams to the next level. “We need to develop our swimmers into a strong, conditioned team. Technique is something that we will focus greatly on this year. I am a very detail-oriented coach, and it’s important not to overlook the little things, because that’s how big things happen.”
Aside from training, coach Lindner plans to involve the teams in developing short and long term goals. “Everyone needs to be heard and feel like a part of the program,” she said. “We are going to spend a lot of time bonding as a team and getting to know one another off the pool deck. Also, recruiting is always an important part of maintaining and building a strong program. We want to bring in student-athletes that fit in with what we’re trying to do as a program and fit in with our team.”
Lindner’s individual meetings with each of her swimmers have been very encouraging. She has observed their passion and ambition, and contends that this competitive drive and commitment will take them a long way. With her focus on unity, she is devoted to building a foundation and bond to hold the teams together.
As they begin their practice sessions today, Lindner has her eyes set on the Skyline Conference and Metropolitan Conference Championships, both scheduled in February. They will also participate in the ECAC Championships in December, which should be a valuable indicator of how the two big February tournaments will play out.