May 19, 2024
Katie Robinson

Bailee Lyons: How many years have you been at Witt? 

Katie Robinson: I have been at Wittenberg 7 years and am currently in the beginning of year 8.  

BL: What’s your background? 

KR: I grew up in Grove City, Ohio with my two older brothers who also played soccer. Our childhood home had a chain link fence separating our backyard from the Youth Soccer Fields in Grove City so soccer was literally surrounding us. We had lots of backyard, barefoot soccer matches over the years which grew my love for soccer. I went on to earn a Division I scholarship at UNC Charlotte but after some injury, a sick grandparent and, admittedly, being homesick, I decided to come back home to Ohio. I enrolled at Capital University where I joined the Women’s Soccer program and began my major in Athletic Training. Our Men’s Coach, Dwight Burgess, was actually my college coach at Capital, it’s funny to have an office right next to him now! After graduation and tearing my ACL I decided to take a break before getting my Master’s degree. I went out to Baltimore Maryland and studied Education and Athletic Administration while being the Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach. After graduating I went back to my alma mater and won a Regular Season and Tournament Championship at Capital and a trip to the NCAA Final Four in 2013. From there I was there Assistant Coach at Ohio Northern University where we won an OAC Championship and then I got the job here at Wittenberg in 2017. 

BL: You are the longest tenured female coach; how does that play into how you fit into Witt athletics? 

KR: I’ve always had ties to Wittenberg. My cousin attended Wittenberg back in 2002, and I had friends from back home that spoke so highly of Wittenberg. I really wanted to become a Head Coach and run my own program, but it was important for me to find the right fit that kept me close to home and my family and friends. The tradition of excellence at Wittenberg made it very appealing, and a great place to settle in and make my own impact on the program. I cannot believe it’s already been 7 years. I am the most Senior Female Coach in the department which is both crazy and makes me feel old. 

BL: How did the season go? 

KR: We had a very successful season. We make it our mission to challenge our team early on in the season and play tough teams who are ranked either Regionally or Nationally; our hope is that these games force us to face adversity early on so that we are preparing ourselves for the grind and pressure that can come with competing for NCAC Championships. After coming off of a tough season in 2022, we focused on re-establishing the buy in from our players and taking the approach that we would get better every single day. Early on, we weren’t getting the results we wanted, but the girls stayed focused and on the same page which made all the difference for us come October.  

BL: What is the team like this year?

KR: We have a really awesome group of players. We preach and preach team culture and how we want our program to feel like family away from home. Managing 30ish personalities any given year has it’s challenges, but they do a really good job of respecting and supporting each other as people and teammates, and it makes all the difference in the world. Our roster had some veteran players but when looking at the starting 11 we knew it would be a fairly young team overall who would have to stay focused and bought in. Our team leaders (Emma Lindsey, Andi Meeks, Katie Wisniewski, Hannah Heald, Mac Hessick, Sophia Grossman, Elizabeth Wile, Leah Rocchetta and Olivia Kuhner) did a really good job keeping a good pulse of the team. They really lead by example, set the bar at training and emulate the things we want from every member of the team.

We had some young players come in and make a huge impact for us; Freshman Ava Otey was a starting forward for us, and her work rate is unreal, I don’t know if she actually gets tired, she just runs forever! Freshman Goalkeeper Lily Winkle was tasked with the starting role and had some growing pains to get through the first few weeks but once she got her feet wet, she continued to improve and came up huge in our ability to win a Conference Championship. Meanwhile we had returners really step up in players like Junior Defender Grace Koperna who became a lock down defender for us but also scored some important goals including two game winners on the season. Elizabeth Wile returned from injury and found herself anchoring our backline alongside Koperna and Sophomore Leah Rocchetta really stepped up in the midfield for us after her teammate suffered an injury a few games in. Overall, the depth chart was the best it’s been, so it allows us freedom to move players around and create the best product possible.  

BL: What have they been doing in practice?

KR: The NCAA Division III rule for non-traditional season changed for us this year so we were able to start much sooner but have only used a few practice dates up to this point. Their primary focus in January and February was spent with our Strength Coach Nate in getting stronger in the weight room and playing pick-up and Futsal as a group! We are excited to get the group back together after Spring break and really dive back into training sessions and prepping for our Spring Games on Sunday, April 14th

BL: What is your favorite part of the team and of Witt?

KR: The people. I’m lucky to work with members of our Athletic department and campus community that I enjoy being around. I come to work every day excited to be here, and I get to impact young women in their personal and professional development while sharing the sport that we all love. I love watching them go off and accomplish what they set out to do on day one of freshman year. This year alone, we have a Senior off to Med School, and a Junior who recently was accepted into Vet school. It’s special to share those big life moments with them.  

BL: What’s your favorite part of Springfield?

KR: It’s been cool to see the development of Springfield during my time here. With the addition of COhatch downtown, Chick-fil-a, Starbucks, Skyline, Cane’s, etc. There has been a lot of growth which in turn is only helping us from a recruiting standpoint. Prospective students like to have options in and around campus so when you can tell them what Bechtle Avenue has to offer usually, we see kids, or their parents light up in surprise.  

BL: What’s some advice you have for college athletes?

KR: The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” couldn’t be more accurate, especially in your college years. Try to limit the crazy stress you put on yourself, putting pressure on yourself can be a positive but don’t lose sight of the fact that sometimes you have to take a deep breath and be in the moment. There are days or weeks that feel like forever, but I can promise you the next thing you blink and realize is graduation day. These 4 years will absolutely fly. Embrace the grind, learn about yourself along the way and above all else, enjoy it! 

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