When Angie Ridgeway joined the Wofford coaching staff in 2004, she was one of two women on campus heading teams. Ridgeway started as associate director of golf, which meant also coaching the Wofford women’s team, but not as the head coach. That changed a year later, and now, after 17 years, Ridgeway has built the Terriers into a team that performs well in the classroom and on the course.
“I’ve now coached longer than I played professionally,” says Ridgeway, who was an LPGA Tour player for 16 years. “The game of golf taught me so much. I went into coaching because I knew it was my best chance to pass along that knowledge and help future generations learn and grow through golf. I could stand on the range and teach, but coaching is way more dynamic.”
Now Ridgeway is one of five women who serve as head coaches at Wofford. While each has different professional and personal demands, they all share a commitment to their players and a belief in the college’s student-athlete model.
HEAD WOMEN’S GOLF COACH
FORMER LPGA TOUR PROFESSIONAL
ALSO PLAYED COMPETITIVELY AT APPALACHIAN STATE UNIVERSITY, APPALACHIAN STATE HALL OF FAME.
TPI LEVEL 1
“Every day is dynamic, and every day is different. I love looking back to see how our student-athletes have grown over four years. That part keeps me doing this.”
Women’s soccer head coach Emily Grant, who was a student-athlete at Vanderbilt University, came to Wofford because of the college’s academic program. A rising star and former Women’s Premier League professional, this is her first head coaching position.
“I wanted to get back to an academically rigorous institution, where student- athletes have similar demands and expectations in the classroom and on the field,” says Grant, who joined the coaching staff in January 2019. “Competing at Wofford demands drive and a willingness to put in the effort to be high-performing in both academics and athletics.”
Grant knows that her players are smart and capable, but they also need support and training. She started a family- style leadership progression on the Wofford women’s soccer team. The women on the team are put into families, and each first-year student is assigned a great grandmother who’s a senior a junior grandmother and a sophomore mom. Built within the system are leadership and mentoring responsibilities that evolve each year.
Grant’s first leadership opportunity came when she was asked to captain her college team.
“I wanted to be a role model, but I had no idea what to do or how to lead,” she says. “Our program is designed to create leaders over time. The seniors become the team’s visionaries, so in addition to influencing our team, after graduation they’re ready for professional opportunities to lead.”
Lynze Roos, head volleyball coach, came to Wofford in July 2015. She quickly discovered that Wofford student- athletes take their academic experience seriously, and she says understanding that has made her a better coach.
“They’re smarties, and they love college,” Roos says of her team. “They’re so impressive academically, so even as their coach, I have to approach them from that standpoint. I have to make sure I give them the time to do what they need to in the classroom so they can then put energy into being great at their sport.”
Recently, the U.S. Marine Corps and the American Volleyball Coaches Association recognized Wofford volleyball with their USMC/AVCA Team Academic Award. The recognition comes after landing six Terriers on the 2020-21 Academic All-Southern Conference Team and 17 Terriers on the 2021 SoCon Academic Honor Roll.
HEAD VOLLEYBALL COACH
AT LYNN UNIVERSITY AND SAMFORD UNIVERSITY
AT BUTLER UNIVERSITY
“I love road trips with my team when the leaves are changing. It’s exciting to start a season. That never gets old.”
Roos, who studied English and journalism at Butler University, gets it. “Our players aspire to become surgeons, engineers, scientists, psychologists … They are superstars in the classroom as well as on the court, and I really appreciate that Wofford expects that. Dr. (Nayef) Samhat comes to matches and knows players by name. Dr. (Mackay) Salley ’95 tells me how great my players are in class. We have a faculty appreciation night each season, and that’s always a highlight.”
The academic rigor at Wofford has driven Krissy Hall, women’s tennis coach, to put extra effort into recruiting. This is her 10th year leading the Terriers.
“I’m such a competitive person that when I first got into coaching it was all about winning, and that has shifted so much since being at Wofford,” says Hall. “My main focus is now building relationships with my players, helping them become the best version of themselves on and off the court, and equipping them with life skills that they will use beyond Wofford.”
The two go hand-in-hand. Hall says she’s now learned how to win, develop great relationships with her players and meet the college’s academic expectations. The team fell just short in the Southern Conference semifinals in the spring, and in July was named to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s All- Academic Team for the eighth time in nine years. Seven student-athletes on the team were recognized with Scholar-Athlete Awards.
“I’ve learned how to recruit a Wofford student-athlete — someone who wants to be challenged, who wants to develop academically and as a tennis player,” says Hall. “I’ve figured out the type of person I can coach best and who fits at Wofford. What Wofford has to offer from an academic, social and tennis standpoint is so special and not something you find everywhere.”
Kim Eldridge, Wofford’s head lacrosse coach, echoes Hall’s emphasis on recruiting. Eldridge joined the college in 2019, and she’s yet to have a full season because of COVID-19. She recruits students who are cognizant of time management and the demands of playing a competitive Division I sport at a college with a nationally ranked academic reputation. She believes the key is being straightforward during the recruiting process.
“I encourage recruits to ask current student-athletes questions,” says Eldridge, who is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. “When they ask what it’s like — balancing lacrosse and academics — my players admit that it’s hard, but they also say that it’s rewarding and doable.”
Eldridge goes old-school when it comes to recruiting. She does home visits whenever possible, in addition to calls, texts and Zooms. She sends hand-written notes, and even draws pictures of recruits wearing Wofford old gold and black. The recruits seem to like the personal touch because sometimes they respond in kind with pictures of them in Wofford gear. Eldridge saves the notes.
“I’m a relationship-based coach, and my goal is to tell them the story of my expectations for their commitment over the four years that they’ll be at Wofford. When they graduate, if players feel that I’ve been honest about that, then I count it as a success of the program,” she says.
Four women on the golf team were named to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholars Team. Two members of the team are from England. They made the best of COVID-19, despite the distance, by practicing individually and creating opportunities — including a clever Tik Tok video — to connect via Zoom or social media. They’re looking forward to traveling together this year and planning trips to tournaments that will allow them to experience more of the world while honing their skills and representing the Terriers. One of their favorite things is going out together for ice cream, or in Ridgeway’s case, coffee, to celebrate milestones and successes.
“Ultimately it’s all about the relationships I get to build with the family we create on our team,” says Ridgeway. “We learn from each other, and we all bring something different to the team. I grow every year because of these women, and they help each other in the same regard.”
Although a young program with lots of room to grow, lacrosse also has reasons to celebrate. Wofford’s lacrosse team will join the Big South in 2022, and the 2020-21 team was named to the Academic Honor Squad by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association. Earlier in the year, six members of the team made the Southern Conference All-Academic Team, and 21 were honored on the SoCon Academic Honor Roll. Four players, a program high, were named to All-SoCon teams.
Eldridge, who has success starting and developing new programs, is lacrosse’s third coach. During the pandemic, it’s been difficult to find much to celebrate, so she’s looking ahead and working to build a tradition of excellence. Eldridge is taking the team this fall to William and Mary, her alma mater, to play the Tribe as well as Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion.
“I want to take this team to places that are meaningful,” says Eldridge. “I was taught by influential women coaches to be a student of the game and life. That’s what I want for our student-athletes.”
HEAD WOMEN’S SOCCER COACH
AT GEORGIA SOUTHERN AND THE UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, LAS VEGAS
AT VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY AND FOR THE PREMIER WOMEN’S LEAGUE
“I learned everything I needed to know about life through sports, and I want to share that with the next generation.”
When Grant joined the Terriers, the women’s soccer team had just come off a 5-12-1 season (2-7 in conference play).
“Eventually we want to be in the top three in the conference every year, and we want a shot at the NCAA tournament. Now we’re working on the milestones that will get us there, like learning to practice and play through adversity,” she says. Grant is quick to praise her team for how they’ve improved since 2019. During 2020- 21, four Terriers were named to All- Conference teams, and a senior on the team (Maggie Adcock ’21) was named to the 2021 Academic All-District Women’s Soccer Team. “Our goals and expectations are different now because we’re a different team, and that’s something to celebrate.”
So far, this story is not so different than it would be for any Wofford coach or team. Coaching, recruiting, celebrating and inspiring student-athletes is part of Wofford’s culture. These women, however, are NCAA Division I coaches, and opportunities for women in collegiate coaching have been called “stagnant” or “in decline” for a decade.
According to a 2019-20 study by the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and the University of Minnesota, participation of women and girls in sports is at an all-time high, but the percentage of women who coach women at the collegiate level has declined from 90% in 1974 to 40% today. Of the Wofford women head coaches, three — Roos, Grant and Hall — coach sports predominantly led by men.
Grant was coached by a woman for the first time when she was in college at Vanderbilt. Eldridge still keeps in contact with the women who coached her along the way, and their mentorship fuels her work with young women today.
HEAD WOMEN’S TENNIS COACH
AT UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA BIRMINGHAM AND THE UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING.
AT VIRGINIA TECH.
“When you have a culture where your players know you care about them and they trust you, they are willing to put in the time and effort to build a program and be successful.”
HALL’S BROTHER, ANDREW STUBBS ’08, PLAYED ON THE WOFFORD MEN’S TENNIS TEAM.
“Definitely the best part of coaching is empowering and inspiring young women,” says Hall, who is known for her positive energy and encouragement, including her signature smile and fist pump. But even with an abundance of positive energy, Hall admits that the demands of a successful career in coaching, which includes travel, recruiting, practices, training, mentoring, organizing, competing and team building, can spill over beyond the workplace and place a strain on family, home and personal responsibilities.
“Finding balance is definitely a challenge,” she says. Hall joined the coaching staff at Wofford when her son was 8 months old. He was raised on the courts of the Reeves Tennis Center. “I chose Wofford because I knew this was a place I could be successful, develop meaningful relationships with players and still be the type of wife and mom I want to be.”
Roos says she’s had friends leave the field of coaching because of the challenges associated with finding balance.
“It’s important to me to make sure that no one feels as if they’re getting shorted. I don’t want my kids to feel like they’re shorted because of volleyball, and I don’t want my players to feel shorted because of my kids,” says Roos, who is often on the road recruiting during Easter and competing over Thanksgiving. “That’s one reason I’m at Wofford and in Spartanburg. Wofford doesn’t make me choose. They encourage me to include my family, and my administration supports my attempts to find balance. It’s a great place for my kids to see what college athletics should be.”
When her three sons were young and finding care for them was a constant struggle, Eldridge did leave coaching for a while. She was one of 20 head coaches at a university and the only woman to lead a team, and she didn’t have an assistant coach. Still, she built a nationally ranked program.
HEAD LACROSSE COACH
AT WESTMINISTER COLLEGE, DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY, ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY, RANDOLPH MACON COLLEGE AND JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY
AT THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY.
“I’m looking ahead. Knowing where we want to go is more inspiring than the challenges that are behind us.”
“That was definitely the greatest challenge of my career,” says Eldridge, who kept finding ways to return to the lacrosse field. She started a youth lacrosse club in her community, which also gave her the opportunity to coach her sons, all of whom are in college now. She just hired a fulltime assistant at Wofford and is eager to begin coaching, recruiting and celebrating. Inspiring is something she, Hall, Roos, Grant and Ridgeway all seem to do naturally.
“The women who are head coaches are excellent coaches and strong recruiters. Most importantly, they understand the culture here at Wofford and are the type of role models we all want to be a part of our program,” says Elizabeth Rabb ’01, deputy athletics director and senior woman administrator. “We believe in investing in them the way they invest in our student-athletes and our college community. That’s something we take seriously.”
This summer, volleyball, basketball, tennis and soccer collaborated on a Girls All-Sports Camp at Wofford. The camp was the first of its kind at Wofford and a way to share the benefits of sports and physical fitness with young girls. It was a huge success, and it gave participants the opportunity to spend time on campus and meet some positive role models — Wofford’s student-athletes and coaches.
by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89