By John Pitarresi ’70
Adapted, with permission, from an article that appeared in the May 12, 2010, edition of the Utica Observer-Dispatch.
Patty Kloidt had played soccer since she was 7 years old. She played softball, too, but by her sophomore year in high school, she found it boring. Girls’ lacrosse, however, was beginning to catch fire in New Jersey then, in the late 1980s. “My friends who played lacrosse said, ‘You know, we need a goalie,’” Kloidt said. “I told them I’d try out. Then I fell in love with it because it was such a challenge. It was fun to be that last resort. I just really took a liking to it. It was something I was being successful at. I had a lot of fun.”
That started it. Kloidt went on to Penn State, where she had a fine four seasons. She earned her master’s degrees at Smith College, was an assistant at Amherst College, then was head coach at Le Moyne for four seasons, leading the Dolphins to their first-ever NCAA tournament berth.
Over the last eight seasons, she has built Hamilton College into a small-college power, winning four consecutive Liberty League titles, grabbing the NCAA Division III national championship in 2008 and reaching the tournament semifinals a year later. The 2010 campaign ended with the Continentals returning to the NCAA championship game, this time narrowly losing the Division III title to Salisbury University, 7-6.
Kloidt has done all that while earning the respect of her colleagues and the devotion of her players. Hamilton Director of Athletics Jon Hind ’80 describes her as “an amazing person, a consummate educator” who has a great ability to balance life skills with the skills of the game.
“She has a tremendous knowledge of the game of lacrosse, but it’s never just about the game of lacrosse,” Hind said. “It’s about being a valued teammate, being honest, and truthful, and loyal to the program, about confidence and trust.”
Her players have similar things to say.
“She’s compassionate,” said attack Anne Graveley ’11. “She’s approachable. She knows how to handle any situation. She believes in us 100 percent.”
What else makes her good to play for?
“Everything,” said midfielder Liz Rave ’10. “Coach knows what it is to be a student-athlete. She considers school a priority. She likes to have fun. She’s pretty goofy herself. She teaches us to be accountable. She’s a great coach.”
And she is a coach who has given some thought to why she coaches the game she loves.
“I’m fascinated with getting kids to reach their potential, getting outside their comfort zone,” she said. “Lacrosse is my venue for doing that. Sport is a place where you can’t hide who you really are. It’s a really honest place. Just like life, sport is a celebration; it’s joy, adversity and struggle. I love helping kids deal with all those things. We want to be a big part of their lives.”
Coaching women is different, Kloidt said, because they are nurtured by relationships and will do anything to keep them intact. She, however, wants her players to understand that it is OK to tell the truth, to confront teammates, to hold each other accountable.
“Our players have grown up a lot,” she said. “It’s really not about how talented we are or our scouting reports. … We don’t expect them to be best friends. We expect them to be good teammates.”
Kloidt feels that Hamilton’s academic reputation and tough admission standards are an advantage — “I’ve got this awesome product behind me,” she said. “It’s not hard to sell.” And the restrictions placed on recruiting, practice start dates and more by the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) don’t bother her. She has something of a less-is-more philosophy, resting her team more than many coaches, and getting more out of them as a result.
“The biggest thing is, they are here to get an education,” she said. “Playing lacrosse is part of that education.”
Kloidt has had help getting to be a top-flight coach. She cites her travel team soccer coach, Jerry Ciser, a guy who never played the game, as a big influence, along with former Syracuse and current Harvard coach Lisa Miller, whom she helped with the Canadian National Team. Middlebury College legend Missy Foote, Chris Paradis at Amherst, Director of the Blood Fitness Center and former Hamilton Director of Athletics Dave Thompson, longtime Hamilton women’s assistant Mackay Rippey P’12, along with Hind and her Continental coaching colleagues, all have played a role.
“I’ve been blessed to have great people around me,” she said.
The 2010 Continental team was obviously talented — and young, with 10 first-year students. The goals for the coming season are to build on that momentum and accomplish what the 2008 team did, when All-Americans Nicole Tetreault ’08 and Kaillie Briscoe ’09 led the way to a national championship, Hamilton’s first in any team sport.
“There was something special about that team,” Kloidt said. “We had kids who could execute on all different levels. They loved each other, and they believed they could beat anybody. This team is similar, but we are deeper, faster and stronger. It doesn’t guarantee anything, but it certainly makes it exciting.”
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At Hamilton 113-31; overall, 139-64
2010 – 21-1; 38 consecutive home wins; four consecutive Liberty League titles; host of NCAA III regional
2009 – 16-3; NCAA semifinals
2008 – 21-1; national championship, national coach of the year
Lenape High School, all-state goalie
Penn State, all-region goalie
Assistant, Amherst College; Head coach, Le Moyne College; Head coach, Hamilton College; Assistant, Canadian National Team
John Pitarresi ’70 has covered sports for the Utica newspapers for 38 years. Primarily responsible for intercollegiate athletics, he has reported on a multitude of sports at every level. He is a dedicated hunter and angler and writes a weekly outdoor column for the paper. A former Hamilton football and lacrosse captain, he is the brother of Jerry ’71 and Charlie ’80 as well as the uncle of Matt ’08 and Marc ’10.