Occidental College Director of Athletics, Jaime Hoffman, announced today that Michele Uhlfelder has been hired on as the first women’s lacrosse head coach in the history of the college. One of two women’s sports added to the
department of athletics during the last two years, lacrosse will join women’s golf to make 21 intercollegiate sports.
Entering the first year of varsity status, Occidental has sponsored a club lacrosse program for a number of years and under the leadership of Uhlfelder and assistant Jacqueline McDevitt the Tigers hope to make a smooth transition.
“There is tremendous excitement within our lacrosse program around competing at the varsity level and all that accompanies that elevation in status,” shared Hoffman. “With Michele’s hire and the quality experience and leadership that she brings, our program has taken a giant leap forward in the lacrosse world. We look forward to enjoying Michele’s relentless pursuit to put Occidental Lacrosse on the map as she has done with both her Stanford squad and every other college and club effort that she had a hand in coaching.”
Uhlfelder brings 14 years of Division I coaching experience and over 15 years of playing experience for the U.S.A. National Team and at the University of Maryland. As a four-year starter for the Terps (1987-91) she helped Maryland to National Runner-up finishes at the NCAA Championships in 1990 and 1991, and she was selected to the NCAA All-Tournament Team twice. She was chosen as the 1991 National Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-America, while served as a team captain her senior year.
As a junior in college, Uhlfelder made the U.S. Squad in 1990 and was a two-time member of the US World Cup Team. In the 2001 World Cup, she was the third-highest scorer on the gold medal winning American team, ranking sixth among all scorers at the World Cup, and contributing two goals in the 14-8 win over Australia in the title game. Her first World Cup appearance came in 1997 (Tokyo, Japan) when the U.S. won the gold and she earned Player-of-the-match honors versus Canada.
From the field to the sidelines, Uhlfelder easily shifted from player to coach. She spent seven years as an assistant coach at Duke University (1998-2000) and Old Dominion University (1994-1998) before joining the Cardinal as the head coach beginning in 2000.
While at Stanford she wasted no time in transforming the program into a national force, leading the Cardinal to be selected as the first west coast program to crack the top-20. From there she continued to build the program and the success was obvious. In 2006 the squad became the first team from west of the Mississippi to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. She coached six All-Americans at Duke, before leading two Cardinal players to All-American honors in 2006, marking it the first in school history. Part of Uhlfelder’s success came from attacking the building blocks which would make them a national contender–strength of schedule and recruiting.
In league play Stanford won six league titles (2005 and 2006) and she was twice named Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Coach of the Year (2004 and 2005), marking the first time since the inception of the league that a coach earned that honor in back-to-back seasons.
Hoffman went on to say, “Michele understands the balance of building a program within a rigorous academic environment; the responsibility to grow the sport in areas where it is relatively underdeveloped (L.A.); and, is anxious to dive in to tackling those two objectives while becoming familiar with Oxy’s small liberal arts campus community”.
Beyond the collegiate ranks, Uhlfelder has been responsible for promoting the growth of women’s lacrosse nationally. She has run successful camps and developed club programs, which teach lacrosse skills, strategy and technique, as well as raise athleticism and level of player in the country.
Uhlfelder looks to continue her successful coaching this spring and in years to come at Occidental.
“Oxy is a great school, and I am honored to work with the student-athletes, athletic administration, and wonderful people in all parts of the University, to help build the program,” Uhlfelder said. “I look forward to the challenge, and I am excited to get started. We will strive to build a hard working, athletic, and skilled program that can compete for a SCIAC Championship, and ultimately a bid to the NCAA Division III Championship.”
Uhlfelder went on to say, “There are few other liberal arts colleges that have Oxy’s package of a beautiful hilltop campus, great weather, beaches, and all of the resources of a major nearby city. Oxy Lacrosse will be a great choice for players who want to thrive at a wonderfully student-focused school and combine the educational and social opportunities of a vibrant city like L.A. Personally, I look forward to experiencing all that the area has to offer, and at the same time, help lacrosse grow in Southern California.”
The addition at Occidental also pushes the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to add lacrosse as a league sponsored sport. Oxy joins Whittier College, Pomona-Pitzer, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and the University of Redlands in the conference.
Hoffman finished by saying, “We feel fortunate to have landed such a phenomenal coach and person to step into the role as head coach. Our program and Los Angeles lacrosse will surely benefit with the addition of Michele to the Oxy staff.”