Pamela Findlay’s resignation in May ensured that the Macalester College Women’s Basketball program would begin the summer the same way it did in 2018: looking for a new head coach. Two weeks later, the search committee selected Katie Kollar to lead the team.
A 2012 graduate of Nazareth College, Kollar arrives at Macalester after four years as head coach at SUNY Cobleskill and two as an assistant coach at Springfield College.
Kollar’s primary reasons for coming to Macalester were the college’s rigorous academics, its commitment to internationalism and multiculturalism and its urban location.
Kollar’s goal, since her high school days, was to become a coach.
“All I had my mind on was basketball,” Kollar said. “I started going on college visits and talking to college coaches and when I learned about coaching as a full-time job I was all about it.”
At Macalester, Kollar hopes that her upbeat coaching style will resonate with the team.
“I’m super energetic — my team will tell you that already,” Kollar said. “I’m enthusiastic, I love what I do, I care about the team and I’m pretty positive. I’ll get on them when we need to get better, but I’m positive in my approach.”
As the third Women’s Basketball coach in three years, Kollar hopes to create consistency within the program. Assistant coaches Sheu Oduniyi and Emma Veach have helped Kollar in her transition to Macalester.
“Coach O and Coach V were both here last year, so that transition has been helpful for me because they’ve been able to show me the lay of the land,” Kollar said. “Being the third coach in three years here is not an easy thing for my players, so we’re trying to create stability as much as we can.”
Kollar is excited by the potential she saw on film, but noted that this year’s team is shorter and will need to design an offense that will be effective against taller teams. Kollar implemented an up-tempo system designed to push the pace.
Besides their smaller size, this year’s team has been plagued by early-season injuries. In the team’s opening loss to Minnesota-Morris, they had only eight healthy players.
“We’re small in multiple ways: in height and in numbers,” Luci Swift ’21 said. “In both of these regards, we have to be extra gritty and extra passionate about the game, and we have to do all of the little things right.”
The junior class will assume a big leadership role this season. Half of the team’s twelve rostered players are part of the class of 2021 and are in their third year with the program. After two years of growth, Swift believes they will be more prepared to face MIAC competition.
“We have been a pretty youthful team in the past, but this year we finally have some veteran experience,” Swift said. “We’ve always been that team with potential, but this year we get to actually show that we can win and hopefully have a successful season.”
This small roster means less experienced players will play important roles. Solana Cushing ’23, a first-year, is one such player.
“Knowing that there are only eight people, everyone is going to get in the game and have an opportunity to impact it — which I think is really exciting,” Cushing said. “I feel like I have to be forced to not be so much of a rookie and not second guess myself because I’m going to have to get in the game and do it anyway.”
Kollar is excited about the road ahead. She has chosen to focus on day-to-day improvements as a measure of overall success rather than wins and losses.
“One of the things we talk about in practices is how we can get a little bit better every day,” Kollar said. “I can’t tell you where we’re going to end up at the end of the year, but as long as we’re focused on making improvements we’ll be alright.”
Macalester kicks off its 2019-20 home schedule on Tuesday, Nov. 19 against the University of Northwestern (MN).