BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh women’s basketball head coach Sue Troyan has announced a few changes to the coaching staff as the Mountain Hawks get set to gear up for the 2012-13 season. Caitlin Gillard was promoted from Director of Basketball Operations to the second assistant coach position, Laura Kurz was hired as the third assistant coach and Katie Kuester was hired as the new Director of Basketball Operations.
"I believe that Caitlin, Laura and Katie will be strong additions to our staff, as all three coaches bring a high level of knowledge, energy and enthusiasm," said Troyan. "They have all excelled at a high level in their respective collegiate careers and hold a strong understanding of the commitment it takes to excel at the highest competitive levels. All three women will serve as wonderful role models for our current student-athletes while possessing strong interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to our current student-athletes."
Kurz and Kuester join the staff replacing the recently departed Tiffany Coll, who joined the staff at Towson University and Tricia Smith, who is exploring other professional opportunities.
Gillard is in her third season with the Lehigh program after spending the past two years as the Director of Basketball Operations.
"We're excited that Caitlin will remain a part of our staff as she moves into a position as a full-time assistant coach," said Troyan. "Caitlin brings a tremendous amount of energy to our staff as well as a knowledge of Lehigh, our program and the people associated with it and a strong understanding of what it takes to achieve at the highest level in the Patriot League. As a student-athlete who competed and excelled in the Patriot League, Caitlin serves as an exceptional role model for our current and future student-athletes."
Gillard joined the Mountain Hawks’ staff after serving as the assistant women’s basketball coach at Hamilton College in 2009-10. At Hamilton, Gillard was responsible for overseeing recruiting efforts, assisting with practices, scheduling and logistics. Gillard also prepared scouting reports, designed conditioning schedules and oversaw the academic progress of all players in the program.
Prior to her time at Hamilton College, Gillard spent a year as a research associate at the Duke University Center for Neuroscience in 2008-09. She was responsible for recruiting, scheduling and coordinating research participants, in addition to conducting cognitive research experiments and analyzing data for the doctoral studies staff.
Gillard earned her degree from Colgate University in 2008, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts. In four years with the Raiders, Gillard was twice named team MVP and served as team captain for three seasons. Gillard was named to the Patriot League All-Academic Team every season in a Raiders’ uniform and was presented with the Dean’s Award for maintaining a semester GPA above 3.3 on eight different occasions.
Gillard is currently working on her Master’s at Lehigh in counseling and human services in the College of Education.
"I feel very honored and excited to be able to continue as part the highly successful Lehigh women's basketball family," said Gillard. "I've learned a great deal from the current coaching staff over the past two years at Lehigh as Director of Operations. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be able to coach our exceptional group of young women. Lehigh, with its balance of outstanding academics and athletics, is the perfect place for me to continue to develop as a coach and contribute to the success that the program has had in the past."
Kurz joins the Lehigh women's basketball program in what will be her first coaching opportunity after an extremely successful playing career.
"I’m really excited to be at Lehigh, which has a great history of success on and off the court," said Kurz. "Coach Troyan and Coach Rigney have been in the coaching industry for a very long time and I’m looking forward to working with such experienced coaches and learning as much as I can."
Kurz had a stellar collegiate career in which she played two seasons for Duke University before transferring to Villanova where as a senior, she was a unanimous First Team All-Big East selection, the Big Five Player of the Year, the Big East Conference Co-Most Improved Player Award and the honor of being named a finalist for the Naismith Award. In her senior season, Kurz led Villanova in scoring (17.4), rebounding (7.2) and blocks (42), and she ranked among the best in steals (26) and assists (52) while Kurz also became just the second player in program history to score 1,000 points in just two seasons.
After graduating, Kurz played professionally for a year in Greece and was then a training camp invitee with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.
After retiring as a player, Kurz went back to graduate school where she got a master’s in Sports Management at NYU.
Kurz is a local product, graduating from Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, Pa. where she was an Adidas All-American and is the all-time leading scorer with more than 2,000 points. Kurz also comes from a basketball family as both her parents played basketball at Lafayette and her brother, Rob, played at Notre Dame.
"Laura played for very successful high school and collegiate programs, and is a player who has had a tremendous amount of personal success in everything she has done," said Troyan. "She is player who has excelled at the highest competitive levels and brings a strong understanding of what it takes to be successful at the collegiate game. We feel she will be a great fit with our program and our staff while serving a strong role model for our student-athletes."
Kuester joins the Lehigh program after playing for four years at Saint Joseph’s where she co-captained the squad in her final two seasons. The Media, Pa. native had a storied career for the Hawks as she finished first all-time in free-throw percentage (86.1) and seventh all-time in three-point field goals made (167).
Kuester led the Hawks with 58 three-point field goals in her senior season while averaging 9.1 points and 2.2 assists per game. In April, she was named to the Philly College Sports All-Area Division I Second Team. Kuester was part of a Saint Joseph’s program that was the Big 5 Co-Champions (2009), earned two berths to the postseason NIT (2010,11) and won three Hawk Classic Basketball Tournament Championships (2009, 10, 11).
"I'm really excited for the opportunity to be a part of an established program and coaching staff," said Kuester. "I am going to be getting invaluable experience that not many people have the chance to get right out of college. Playing against Lehigh, they were always tough to scout because they could do so many different things. Now I'm excited and grateful for the chance to be on the other side of things."
She played her high school basketball at the Academy of Notre Dame where she was named a 2007-08 Preseason Honorable Mention All-American by The Sporting News.
Kuester’s dad, John Kuester, played in the NBA from 1977-1980 and was eventually named the head coach of the Detroit Pistons in 2009 and is currently an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kuester graduated from Saint Joseph’s in May with a degree in Elementary Education and will be getting her Master's at Lehigh in Educational Leadership.
"Katie was a high energy player who loves the game of basketball and played it with a high level of passion," said Troyan. "She has grown up in a coaching family, and has a strong understanding of the game and of the time and energy which goes into the profession. We're excited for the energy, enthusiasm and work ethic that she will bring to our program."
The Mountain Hawks went 17-13 last season and advanced to the Patriot League Semifinals for the sixth straight year and hosted the game for the fourth straight season.