Sue Stimmel, Ohio State’s women’s lacrosse coach recently resigned from her position, but after a 15-year career coaching the Buckeyes, her name will not soon be forgotten.
Stimmel grew up playing lacrosse in middle school, high school and at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. She was the first in her family to play lacrosse and she joked that her dad was upset she didn’t choose softball because he was a baseball buff.
Stimmel coached her way through graduate school at University of Massachusetts and took her first head coaching job at Denison University in 1990.
“Ironically [coaching] wasn’t my first choice,” Stimmel said. “But I decided after grad school that I might coach again if the opportunity came up, and a month after I said that the job at Denison opened.”
In 1995, Stimmel decided to leave Denison and take the new head coaching position at OSU.
“Denison was a very good division-three team, but I wanted to get back to the division-one level of competition,” she said.
Fifteen years later, Stimmel has accumulated a 122-111 record at OSU and led the Buckeyes to two consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in the 2002 and 2003 seasons, as well as an ALC Championship in 2003.
“It’s gone by pretty quickly,” Stimmel said. “I can’t believe it’s been 15 years. Looking back there are ups and downs. I’ve had frustrating years and great years. The first year here was basically a club team because there was no recruiting time, but to see where we are now with one of the best recruiting teams we can really see how far we’ve come. To see all the players who have come through and what they’ve accomplished, some are even coaching or officiating — it’s a rewarding thing to see.”
Aside from her accomplishments with the program at OSU, Stimmel leaves behind a legacy within her players.
“My freshman year, she sat us all down and told us a story about how she completed a half Iron Man,” senior captain Rachael Cornicello said. “I think it was that point in time I realized what a hard worker she was and what a dedicated person she was. She taught us that we could achieve whatever we wanted to, we just had to put our mind to it. I’ll never forget that.”
Megan Mirick, a former player and coaching associate of Stimmel’s, agrees that the coach had a profound impact on each of her team members.
“Sue cares a great deal for her players,” Mirick said. “My junior year, I was having a hard time coming back from ACL surgery. I had to go through some difficult procedures and she came with me to my doctor’s appointments, which meant a great deal to me being so far away from my family.”
Mirick graduated from OSU in 2003 and took an assistant position under Stimmel where she coached through 2007. This extended relationship with Stimmel allowed Mirick to understand her better from “both sides of the clip board.”
“Sue knows the game very well,” Mirick said. “Something that sets her apart from other coaches is the type of athletes she recruits. She’ll often find less experienced athletes and mold them into lacrosse players that fit in her system.”
Stimmel said she tried to instill certain values in her players beyond the athletic skills she was expected to help them develop.
“I hope to help them understand being a part of something bigger than themselves,” she said. “Our teams always become close, so accountability and willingness to sacrifice for the benefit of the team are important concepts to learn, to understand other people.”
Her players say they will miss her, but are looking forward to the future and hope the program that Stimmel created will grow in great ways.
“I’m a senior, but I will definitely be staying in touch with her and I wish her the best in whatever she does,” Cornicello said. “Sue’s a great person, she’s done so much for me the past four years. She brought the team here and we are so thankful.”
At the end of Stimmel’s last season, players, associates and fans alike appreciate the great deal of work she put into the women’s lacrosse program at OSU, as well as the personal impacts she had on so many.
Mirick said, “She leaves behind a great start which will turn into a great history at Ohio State.”