Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/15/22
From Gettysburg Press Release
For over three decades, Carol Cantele has been looking ahead at the next great opportunity on the lacrosse field, all the while metaphorically and sometimes literally dancing alongside her student-athletes and colleagues on the sidelines.
Cantele – a graduate of Nether Providence High, which merged into Strath Haven – will keep her dancing shoes on for one final hurrah at the helm of the Gettysburg College women’s lacrosse team as the Hall of Fame coach has announced her retirement Monday following the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.
The decision did not come easy for Cantele, who has bled orange and blue since her days as a student-athlete (Class of 1983) under coaching legend Lois Bowers and then later as head coach of the lacrosse and field hockey programs.
“I have loved this career and have given it my all, my very best,” said Cantele, who is in the midst of her 30th season at Gettysburg. “The time is right to pass on the whistle for another unproven young coach to experience the growth, development, relationships and challenges that this amazing profession affords. There is no better place than to experience these joys than at this incredible place called Gettysburg College.”
Cantele’s passion for Gettysburg began in the fall of 1979 as a freshman sweeper for Bowers and the field hockey program. Thirteen years later, she took over for her mentor and lifted both of those programs to new heights on the way to becoming a legendary leader of young women in the Division III landscape.
“I am eternally grateful for former athletic director, Chuck Winters for hiring me in the fall of 1992 and taking a risk with a young inexperienced coach,” recalled Cantele. “In those early years I had great mentorship from incredible coaches at Gettysburg which continue today. The support and leadership from former Executive Director of Athletics David Wright, former Vice President Barbara Fritze and former President Janet Riggs ’77 made coming to work each day a joy and their vision for the institution was unparalleled.”
“It is impossible to measure the positive impact that Carol has had on decades of Gettysburg women’s lacrosse players over the course of her hall of fame career,” said Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Mattia. “Not only do her teams have tremendous success on the field, but they also excel in the classroom, are involved in different clubs and campus organizations, and are involved in community service. She has been able to provide her players a playbook for success in all aspects of their lives well beyond graduation.”
Cantele has few coaching equals in the sport of lacrosse. Over her three decades with the Bullets, the team has won nearly 80 percent of its contests with Cantele compiling a record of 431-112. The Bullets have been to the NCAA Division III playoffs 19 times since 2000, including a stretch of 18 consecutive appearances from 2002-19. In 2011, Gettysburg claimed the institution’s first-ever NCAA Division III title by defeating Bowdoin 16-5. The Bullets repeated as national champions in 2017 and 2018, beating The College of New Jersey and Middlebury College, respectively. Cantele led Gettysburg to the first of its conference record 12 Centennial Conference championships in 2000.
Prior to arriving in Gettysburg, the Delaware County native was the head coach at Plymouth State University where she went 24-23 with the lacrosse team. In 34 years as a head coach, she has accumulated 455 victories, leaving her third all-time behind Hall of Famers Sharon Pfluger (541) and Cindy Timchal (535) among NCAA coaches.
Cantele, who also serves as Gettysburg’s Senior Woman Administrator and Assistant Director of Athletics, compiled a school-record 121 coaching victories and five conference championships in 10 seasons with the Bullets’ field hockey program. Barb Jordan has coached alongside Cantele as an assistant lacrosse coach since succeeding her at the field hockey helm in 2002.
“When I first arrived at Gettysburg we were colleagues, but we quickly became great friends through mutual experiences and background, and our love for coaching,” said Jordan. “We have shared a lot of highs and lows together, both professionally and personally, and she has helped me become a better person. I can only hope I have had half the influence on her, as she has had on me. I am so grateful to have been a part of her program and life over the last 20 years. It has been a blast.”
Cantele hasn’t had much time for reflection on the past and numerous successes she has achieved, always maintaining a “live in the moment, prepare for the future” approach to life. She doesn’t rest on past laurels and that has made her engagement with student-athletes before, during, and after their college experiences intimate and meaningful in unparalleled ways beyond the field of play.
“I am most proud of the relationships that have been built through this program,” Cantele stated. “Not only have our players developed lifelong friendships, but our parents have continued to stay in touch with one another and continue to support the program. I am so grateful and proud of these special relationships with my players, coaches, alumnae, and parents that I am confident will continue. I am so proud of the incredible women within this program and the lives that they are leading now. Their impact on me has been immeasurable and I know that I have learned as much from them as I hope they have learned from me.”
Outside of the student-athletes, Cantele has guided and developed young and aspiring women through the coaching ranks throughout her tenure. Many of her past assistants went straight into head coaching jobs after Gettysburg, including Kristen Stuckel ’95 at Muhlenberg College and Kate Fowler at Washington College.
“It’s challenging coaching against Carol,” said Stuckel, who also played for Cantele on the field hockey and lacrosse teams. “It’s a bittersweet thing to coach against one of your mentors. I think what makes a great mentor is it’s somebody that will not give you the answers, but will help you find your own answers and that’s what she does. She listens, she supports, she inspires, she speaks with action, and those are all great things she continues to give to lacrosse and to everybody’s lives that she’s touched.”
Current assistant coach Charlotte Cunningham is in the midst of her fourth season with the Bullets and has seen the team battle through the highs of winning a conference title in 2019 to having its 2020 and 2021 seasons impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, Cantele has guided the student-athletes and her coaching staff through the rollercoaster ride with a unique style of her own making.
“What I think sets Carol apart is her passion and authenticity,” said Cunningham. “She’s passionate about people, and prioritizes relationships over everything. She makes people feel valued and heard. She is unapologetically herself and has so much passion for the game, for the team, for her family, and for life that seeps into the players and has become engrained into what makes Gettysburg lacrosse such a special program to be a part of.”
Cantele has been named Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Division III Coach of the Year four times (2006, 2011, 2017, 2018) and Metro Region Coach of the Year 10 times. Her players dot the national lists on an annual basis with 64 All-America citations from the IWLCA and Inside Lacrosse over the last 29 years. Additionally, eight Bullets have been named IWLCA Division III Player of the Year at their respective positions. In 2018, Steph Colson ’18 was lauded as the inaugural NCAA Division III Player of the Year. Cantele has also coached 112 all-region selections, 15 conference players of the year, 156 all-conference honorees, three Academic All-Americans, and two Elite 89 Award winners.
Her commitment to the sport has been recognized many times in her three-plus decades. In 2009, she was awarded the Judith M. Sweet Commitment Award by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators (NACWAA), given to those individuals who have provided outstanding leadership and commitment to colleagues and student-athletes in intercollegiate athletics. In the fall of 2016, she was given the Diane Geppi-Aikens Memorial Award, one of the highest honors given by the IWLCA. The award recognizes lifetime achievement to the women’s college game.
Cantele also served as head coach of the U.S. Developmental Team and she served as an assistant coach with Team USA during its run to the gold medal at the 2013 World Cup.
“The wins are important and significant, but what she truly cares about is providing a positive experience and helping each athlete reach their full potential on and off the field,” noted Jordan. “She is committed to guiding each athlete to become the best version of themselves. She challenges her athletes and holds them to high expectations because she believes in them and always wants what is best for them, and they believe in her. Her legacy and impact at Gettysburg and in the lacrosse world will be long lasting.”
This past fall Cantele was one of three new inductees into the IWLCA Hall of Fame, further cementing her legacy as one of the all-time greats. It was a fitting tribute to decades of hard work and passion for the game and to the institution she loves dearly. Former student-athletes that are now in the coaching ranks and a handful of past and current co-workers among the athletics staff were on hand for the special moment, including her husband and long-time Gettysburg athletic trainer Mike Cantele ’88.
“I have spent 30 incredible years doing the job that I love alongside my husband,” said Cantele. “How incredibly blessed I have been, and how thankful I am for my family to have supported me and allowed me to pursue this game I love so much. In addition, working alongside Barb Jordan for the past 20 years has been an honor as she is an incredible teacher of the game and more importantly of life. I’m also extremely grateful for the support and impact made from Charlotte over the last four years.”
The search for the next great coach of the women’s lacrosse program will start in late April with the hiring process wrapping up in early summer. In five decades as a varsity sport, Gettysburg’s women’s lacrosse program has seen only three mentors – Grace Kenney, Bowers, and Cantele.
“I can only hope that I have made my former coach, Lois Bowers proud and continued her outstanding legacy,” said Cantele. “Many of my coaching decisions were made by asking, ‘What would Mrs. B do in this situation?’ I literally have walked with her keys in my hand for the past 30 seasons and I am confident that the next coach holding her keys will make even a greater impact on the program!”
“We will be conducting a national search soon to find our next head coach and begin a new era for the women’s lacrosse program,” noted Mattia. “While Carol is irreplaceable, our goal is to carry on the legacy of success Carol has established, and continue to compete at a national level striving for Centennial Conference and national championships.”
While the search for a new lacrosse coach will begin soon, Cantele remains steadfast and determined to lead Gettysburg to its goals in 2022. After missing the NCAA playoffs in 2021 due to a shortened season, the Bullets are intent on resuming their place among the national elite. Voted 10th in the national preseason poll, Gettysburg has already flown up the national ranks to No. 2 and has beaten three programs ranked in the top 12 in the country.
“The squad has set challenging yet attainable goals and thus far they are positioning themselves well to accomplish them,” Cantele stated. “They want to play deep into May and I look forward to being right by their side and watch their joy of obtaining their goals. Coach Cunningham, Coach Jordan and the entire 2022 squad is totally invested in the mission of the program. We will #BRINGIT each and every day!”
As always, Cantele’s decision to announce her retirement now came with the importance of her past, present, and future relationships at the forefront of her mind. She did not want to mislead anyone about her own future, while making sure the future of women’s lacrosse remains bright and exciting for all future Bullets.
“I am embracing these finals months with the team and the Gettysburg lacrosse family and will walk my talk of ‘being where my feet are’ – living in the here and now and being thankful for each and every day,” said the Delco native. “While my time as a head coach is coming to an end, my association with and support of Gettysburg women’s lacrosse and Gettysburg
Tags: Strath Haven