Matt Gad – Sports Writer
A national title was won. The team was inducted into the athletic department’s Hall of Fame last year. And Kate Lynch was part of the fun, but she wasn’t alone. Now, it’s time for her individual accomplishments to be recognized.
Lynch, who leads a women’s basketball program here that returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 earlier this semester, was happy last year when she got to celebrate with her 2007 championship team again.
“It’s cool because this is the second year that Jay [Moran] has brought [the Hall of Fame ceremony] back,” she said. “Last year it was really successful and we had a lot of fun, we saw a lot of alumni. It was really nice to see everyone back together.”
Lynch said bringing the Hall of Fame ceremony back was one of athletic director Jay Moran’s “wantings.” In a ceremony held in June at Grassy Hill Country Club in Orange, Conn, Lynch will be enshrined into the Southern Athletic Hall of Fame alongside former football coach Rich Cavanaugh, Raymond Ciarleglio, Dr. Lawrence Fitzgerald, Jerry Katona, Dr. Dora Metrelis, Dawn Stanton-Holmes and former Owls student-athlete and coach, and current Philadelphia Eagles offensive line coach, Jeff Stoutland.
“I’m extremely happy for Kate,” assistant coach Stephanie Hiriak, a teammate of hers on the 2007 squad, said. “She had a great playing career here and worked very hard day in and day out. She deserves every bit of this honor.”
Hiriak is one of the team’s two assistants that played for the program. Danielle Powell, who graduated in 2016, also serves on the team’s coaching staff.
“Having a staff where we all played here is great. We have a lot of passion for the university and the basketball program,” Hiriak said. “We bleed blue. I think it definitely helps when we’re recruiting potential student-athletes. They can see the passion we have for the program and the great experiences we had as players and students.”
Lynch said “everything is magnified and extra special” in the fact that she gets to be back, coaching, at her alma mater. She became the head coach for the women’s basketball program in 2015, the same year Scott Burrell was named to succeed Mike Donnelly on the men’s side.
“Finding some success this past year gave us that extra pride because it is our university; we did put on those uniforms. We work really hard so it’s just extra special,” Lynch said.
Lynch said, after this season, that it was “fun to see the joy and hard work” of the student-athletes. She said getting back to the national tournament was a goal they all had.
“It was our goal when we came in here,” she said. “That was their goal specifically as a team and we knew they could do it. Just seeing them do that in those uniforms and us being able to coach them through that … that’s why you coach; to see the joy and see them reach their goals and reach their potential.”
Photo Credit: SCSU Athletics Communication