Kayla Treanor Confident She Can Lead Syracuse to Championship


Syracuse introduced former four-time All-American Kayla Treanor as its third head coach Wednesday.

For the third time in the last 15 days, Syracuse University athletic director John Wildhack faced local sports media either to bid farewell or reintroduce an Orange lacrosse legend.

Unlike John Desko’s retirement or Gary Gait’s subsequent move from the women’s to men’s lacrosse sideline, however, Wildhack knew there would be additional scrutiny Wednesday about Kayla Treanor’s age and relative inexperience.

Treanor, 27, is the youngest head coach in the ACC and one of the youngest head coaches in NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse, period. Is that a concern?

“I was anticipating that question,” Wildhack said.

He pulled out a piece of paper and read from it a list of college basketball legends who got their first shot as a head coach at similarly early ages — including Pat Summit (23), Tara VanDerveer (25) and Mike Krzyzewski (27).

“So I think your question is answered,” Wildhack said. “Not a concern at all.”

A former four-time All-American attacker at Syracuse who remains active as a player with Athletes Unlimited and the U.S. national team, Treanor herself did not flinch when asked if she felt prepared to coach at an institution that takes lacrosse as seriously as Syracuse does.

“That’s a question I’ve gotten quite a bit. I am ready,” she said. “This is an opportunity that I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s not just something I stumbled upon. I’ve been working for this my whole life.”

Since graduating from Syracuse in 2016, Treanor has spent one season as an assistant coach at Harvard and four seasons in the same capacity at Boston College. She was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles, who have advanced to the last four NCAA championship games and won their first title this year. Treanor worked with Tewaaraton Award winners Sam Apuzzo and Charlotte North.

“My experience, although short, it’s really unique,” said Treanor, who as a player led the Orange to the final four in each of her four seasons. She also won world championships with the 2011 U.S. U19 and 2017 U.S. senior teams. “Coaches can go their whole life and never coach in the final four. It’s taken a lot of hard work but a lot of luck as well. Although it’s been short, I think it’s been unique. And I do feel ready to take this team and compete for a championship.”

Treanor thanked her mentors, including Gait, who led Syracuse to eight final fours and three championship game appearances in 14 years. Several other coaches with ties to the program were mentioned in media reports as potential candidates to replace Gait, as was Stony Brook coach Joe Spallina.

A scheduled half-hour meeting between Treanor and Wildhack went more than an hour before deputy athletic director Kimberly Keenan-Kirkpatrick interrupted to whisk Treanor away to dinner, he said.

“It was a great conversation. I asked her very direct questions and she answered them beautifully,” said Wildhack, citing Treanor’s knowledge of the sport, philosophies on player development, commitment to recruiting and support of student-athletes off the field.

“You can’t teach passion. People either have passion or they don’t,” he said. “Kayla has it.”

Treanor wore a pin of a gold lacrosse stick intersecting the Syracuse “S” on the lapel of her burnt sienna blazer. She described the last two weeks, which also included three days competing at U.S. national team tryouts in Maryland, as a whirlwind. Less than a month ago, she was coaching against her alma mater in the NCAA championship game.

Treanor inherits a loaded roster. Tewaaraton candidate Emily Hawryschuk is coming back for a sixth year. Megan Carney, Meaghan Tyrrell, Emma Tyrrell and Emma Ward give the Orange an exciting and enviable top five on offense.

Treanor also inherits a Syracuse team that has been on the cusp of a national title even longer than BC was before its breakthrough this year. Now she knows what it takes, she said.

“I want the student-athletes to come here and love their experience. I want them to leave and say the same things I did, that this was the greatest four years of their life,” Treanor said. “My second goal is that I want to bring a national championship back to Syracuse University. We’ve been really close for a long time.”

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