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Former Chestnut Hill College coach Graham (Spring-Ford) named head coach at Florida’s St. Leo, new D2 program

Monday, 27th September 2010

Categories College, Girl's/Women's, Posted 9/27/10
From Press Releases & Staff Reports

Spring-Ford graduate Lesley Graham has been named the first coach at Saint Leo University (Fla.), a Division II program that will be launched in 2011-12.

Saint Leo Director of Athletics Francis X. Reidy said Graham, who was head coach at Chestnut Hill College last year, had the ideal background. She also was an assistant at Canisius College, another Catholic University.

“Lesley’s experience at two Catholic institutions allowed her to easily grasp our ideals and philosophies, and she was able to articulate a vision for our newest program which aligned with our values,” said Reidy.

Lesley Graham

Last year Graham had a 6-10 record for a Griffins team that had only a combined five seniors and juniors.

“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to start the women’s lacrosse program at Saint Leo,” said Graham, a 2000 US Lacrosse Academic All-American at Spring-Ford. “I am looking forward to building upon the great foundation of athletic excellence already established.

“The sport of women’s lacrosse is growing tremendously, especially in the south, and it is an honor to be able to spread my passion for the sport and knowledge of the game within the Saint Leo community.”

Marking the first new program at Saint Leo since the addition of men’s lacrosse in 2006, women’s lacrosse becomes the ninth sport added to the Lions’ stable in the new millennium. It also marks the ninth women’s program at the institution.

“Coach Graham has a passion for her sport and its development which will attract outstanding student-athletes to this new program right from the start,” said Reidy. “We are excited to have her bring her energy, drive and talents to our campus.”

In addition to her season at Chestnut Hill, Graham also served as a former Division I assistant coach at Canisius College from 2007-09. She also carries experience from high levels of competition as a student-athlete at Ithaca College and holds a master’s degree in sports administration from Canisius and a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in history from Ithaca College.

Reidy continued, “Lesley is a great fit with our current staff, and I am confident she will have a positive impact on and off the field for entire university in helping us achieve our athletic ideals and university mission.”

As the 58th women’s lacrosse program at the NCAA Division II level, the Lions will join Rollins College as just the second D2 program in Florida to sponsor the sport. Graham will begin the task of building the team immediately, with plans to have the program begin practice in the fall of 2011.

“I want to thank Mr. Reidy for having the confidence in me to nurture and develop the women’s lacrosse program from the ground up,” quoted Graham. “I believe the values, community and culture of Saint Leo strongly aid my vision to bring this university to the forefront of women’s lacrosse. I look forward to the challenge.”

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