After nearly three months, Penn volleyball completed its first head coaching search in nearly 20 years when Athletic Director Grace Calhoun announced the hiring of Katie Schumacher-Cawley on Friday.
Schumacher-Cawley graduated in 2002 from Penn State, where she was a two-time All-American and won an NCAA Championship as a player. She then coached as an assistant for six years with the University of Illinois-Chicago before landing the head coaching role at UIC before the 2009 season.
At UIC, Schumacher-Cawley oversaw 113 wins as head coach, third in program history, and led the Flames to the 2012 Horizon League championship. Her career record as head coach stands at 113-135, with a 52-70 mark in Horizon League play.
Schumacher-Cawley stepped down as the UIC head coach on Thursday to take the job at Penn.
“I am excited to welcome Katie to the Penn Athletics family,” Calhoun said in a statement. “Her head coaching experience and successful playing career make her the right fit to lead our program. Katie will foster a competitive, hard-working, family-oriented culture on the court while recognizing the academic and athletic balance of our Ivy League student-athletes.”
“My family and I are so excited to begin a new chapter of our lives at Penn,” Schumacher-Cawley said in a statement. “I am thrilled to join a program that has such a rich tradition and has the best and brightest student-athletes that you will find anywhere in the world. I want to thank Dr. Calhoun, Scott Ward, and all those who share my vision for what we can achieve together. It is a tremendous time to be a Quaker, and I truly look forward to working with everyone connected to Penn Athletics as we strive to achieve new heights in the classroom and Ivy League championships on the court.”
Schumacher-Cawley will have the tall task of replacing former Penn coach Kerry Carr, who after nearly two full decades in December as the winningest coach in program history. But the new coach’s new charges are excited by her impressive resume as a player:
“Oh yeah, absolutely. It gets us really pumped up, having someone who has been through all that,” junior captain Kendall Covington said. “She knows what it’s like, and she knows what it takes to get there, and having that knowledge will push us a lot more than we have been pushed in the past, because she knows what will make or break it.”
The team is also excited by Schumacher-Cawley’s relatively young age for a head coach.
“Volleyball is an evolving sport, it’s a very different sport than it was 10 years ago, let alone 30 years ago,” junior captain Sydney Morton said. “But she has been playing and watching it evolve for a long time, and I’m excited that she is young because she knows the trends of the volleyball world right now, because she’ll teach us the newest styles and the newest ways to do things, and that’s super exciting for me and the rest of the team.”
The hiring of a new coach answers what had been the lone major question mark for Penn, as the Red and Blue will return every player from last season’s squad in 2017.
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