June 13, 2024

Bailee Lyons: What did you study while at Witt?  

Brighid Kortyna: I got a bachelors in Sport Management and a Masters in Sport Administration. 

BL: How many years have you been at Witt?  

BK: Coaching-wise I am going into my 6th year at Witt, I think I am getting close to a decade in total. There was a 9-month period where I went back to Pittsburgh, where my family is from, and I assistant coached a high school field hockey team and then I came back and started the master’s program. All in total, I think it is 10 now.  

BL: What’s your background?  

BK: I am from Gibsonia, PA, I always say Pittsburgh because no one goes to Gibsonia, and I have been there most of my life. Then I moved to Ohio for undergrad, and I haven’t really left at all. I have 3 siblings, 2 older and 1 younger. I was the youngest for 8 years and then my family decided one more, then I lost my youngest child privilege. My older sister and younger sister both played field hockey in college. I currently live in Columbus with my partner, and we have 3 cats together.  

BL: How do you think you fit into Witt athletics?

BK: Witt athletics is always changing in a lot of ways, but also stays the same so there are some constants that feel like good old Witt. I love the competitiveness of Wittenberg, so I think that aligns really well with me. I also love the history of success and reading about the history of Wittenberg Field Hockey, thinking about the history of Wittenberg Field Hockey; we have a great alumni base. Field Hockey was the first official sport at Witt, so I love the history and getting to be a part of it now. 

BL: How did the season go?

BK: We are in a conference with 11 teams, all very competitive, and only the top 4 go to conference so it is pretty tight. Overall, we were 10-7 so we finished with a winning record and then conference we finished 5-5 so pretty good numbers, with that being said we finished 6th in conference and the 4th and 5th teams were 6-4, so it was a one game difference to get us into conference play, we were quite literally right there, so it keeps that fire burning to try to continue to improve. 

BL: What is your goal as the new head coach? Where do you want to end?  

BK: I want to make it to tournament! We have been right there, but last season it ended up being one game and a one goal game, so we were right there. The players are hungry for it but for me personally I want for the team to continue into postseason. 

BL: How did it feel getting the call to be the next head coach? 

BK: It was surreal. Having been here for a while I never really thought what my life would be like outside of Wittenberg. I never planned to be outside of Wittenberg. So, when people are like “What’s the dream job?” I would say “Well ya know I don’t necessarily have a dream job, but I would love to be the head coach at Witt” so with that finally coming I had this shock, I was actually sitting here in the office when I got the email, so I think I was the only one in the office, so I sat here dumbfounded. I called my mom and my girlfriend, and I was like “oh my gosh its actually happening,” so it was surreal for sure.  

BL: How did the players react? 

BK: I couldn’t tell them anything, they were kind of getting the idea that I applied and was hoping for it, when I told them at practice, they were very excited so we are all in our honeymoon phase, and that will change a little when we get to season, when we get into the nitty gritty, but they were all very excited. 

BL: What is the team like this year? 

BK: There are no seniors, so we are a pretty young team. Last season we gained a lot of experience so I’m excited to see where we are this season. We have a lot of returning starters. Lucy Ripepi (junior), Victoria Pipinich (junior), who is a dual sport athlete with track. We have a lot of great freshmen that finished their season: Maddy Krasnow made all-conference honors, and she is a forward for us so it’s exciting to see how she continues after her first year. We have a lot of great depth on our team as well that is something we talk about when people are subbed off the level of play stays the same which is every coach’s dream. We have a lot of great athletes that are working to compete and continue to get better. 

BL: What did practice look like?

BK: We have had 4 or 5 practices in the spring. There was a big break after fall season where we got 2 weeks completely off and got caught up with school. We hit the ground running in the spring so right now we are working on basic skill work to remind ourselves; it’s been a little bit since we had sticks and have played field hockey. We are getting into some small sided games concepts that I want to button down on so I think this past fall we did a great starting point of learning these a little more intricate game concepts and now we start to know that, but now we have to continue to build off of that and that should be the expectation so I want to make 100% passes to our teammate instead of a contested pass. We are giving each other flats and throughs which are terms of where you should be for passes and going with the game play as well. We do a small sided play and work on those concepts and build it to bigger play. 

BL: Is what you have been working on in practice translating into what happens on the field?  

BK: What I am hoping for these small sided games are that we learn to make game time decisions that when it comes to the game, we practice those decisions. It’s difficult when you’re working with just basic skills to set up game, like scenarios where they practice making those decisions, so because we have a great baseline of skill, I want us to go into the small sided games so we can start working on “ok if a defender is here and am attacker is here, we have to practice this in practice so what decision am I making,” so I hope that is how it translates. 

BL: Favorite part of team?  

BK: They are goofy, so sometimes I have to reel them in, but I am also pretty goofy, so they match my energy a lot which is fun, so I think that is my favorite part. 

BL: Outside of The Steemer, what is your favorite part or building on campus?  

BK: I think my favorite part would be the green spaces. You know in Ohio everyone is like, ok flat cornfields, but in every season, it is beautiful, and I’m sure you know it as well but, in the snow, in the spring, in the fall with the leaves, in the summer when everyone is laying in the hollow, it’s just a little piece of paradise. 

BL: Why did you choose Wittenberg? 

BK: My mom was like ok give me some parameters and I will help you find a school to look into. Thanks Mom! She was asking me what I find important, and I said field hockey, I think I would fall through the cracks if I was in a big class and a big school and I wouldn’t participate in class, I would slip by. So, I knew I would need to go to a small school. I didn’t want to go too far away from home, but I didn’t want to be very close to my parents because I would be tempted to go home and we need some space sometimes, so we looked at a couple schools in and around OH, I looked at some schools in the conference as well.

I went on a visit to every school, made a second visit at Wittenberg because I didn’t know after all my first visits. I thought I needed to do second ones and my mom was like “Ok fine” and with Witt it just worked out that way that I started when I got my second visit and the coach at the time, Coach Kelley Hubbell, let me eat with the team and they were so funny and goofy and teasing each other that I was like, yes this is the team I want to be on. I was undecided and didn’t know what I wanted to do with school so field hockey really drew my decision, and I was like “this is a group of people I can see myself being with”.  

BL: What’s your favorite part of Springfield?

BK: Heart of Ohio Antique Center, I love antiques and it’s massive. It will take you at least 3 hours to walk around half of it if you’re really looking at everything, but my parents come visit me just to go. It is close to the highway, so it is still considered Springfield, but it is getting there, I highly recommend going.  

BL: Favorite part of being a student athlete while at Witt? 

BK: With D3, no one is coming here to be a professional athlete. No one is coming here to go into the NFL, sometimes it happens, but it is not usually the goal. People are coming here for the love of the sport, and I think that was my favorite part is that there are some kids in high school that play because their mom wants them to. We were all here not because we wanted to make big waves in the field hockey industry but because the love of the sport and we wanted to keep playing so I think that makes an awesome dynamic. 

BL: What was your favorite class while at Witt? 

BK: I think either Sport Ethics or Women in Sport, because there are so many great women in sport that aren’t highlighted so that was fun. Sport Ethics was just fun to debate about ethical things in sports.  

BL: Favorite meal at CDR? 

BK: I’m eating there now, and they have so many fun things now I don’t think they had while I was here. When I was here probably the chicken patty, so the chicken sandwich easy. Now that I am an adult I can’t eat chicken patties every day, I really like the tofu, and they do a lot of fun things with tofu, so I tend to go there. I would love to have ice cream every time, but I usually get a cookie and hate myself later for it.  

BL: Who’s your go to CDR buddy? 

BK: It used to be the previous head coach, but now I am the only one. I think it would be when we do camps and clinics, I eat with our student athletes who come to help out with the camp.  

Some inspiration from Coach Kortyna:

I’ve heard that to be good at your job you need to be passionate, and I agree to some degree, but determination is a huge part. You don’t need to be 100% happy with where you are going, things can be hard, things can be difficult and some days you can say I don’t want to keep working today but it is the determination that gets you through the hard parts and where you want to be.  

I think what we are doing is very exciting, and it’s the anticipation until fall comes to see what we can do, and I am excited to see where the program goes from here! First official game is after Labor Day so come out and support the team! 

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