Takeaways from Kelly Amonte Hiller on Overtime Season 3 Ep. 3

Northwestern and U19 girls' head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller was the most recent guest on US Lacrosse Magazine's podcast, Overtime with Paul Carcaterra. Check out the biggest takeaways from the interview below, and be sure to subscribe on Apple and Spotify.

Common Family Ties
Time stamp: 6:45

Both Amonte Hiller and Carcaterra share a common bond — their Irish motheres and their Italian fathers.

As a result, both the Amonte’s and Carcaterra’s had quite the roster of names. For Amonte Hiller, the Italian heritage shines through with brothers Tony and Rocco. As for Carcaterra, he name-dropped uncles Frankie, Phonzo, Joey and Carmine.

“You’re speaking the same language as me,” Carcaterra joked.

“My dad’s proudest moment in my career was when I got inducted into the Italian-American Hall of Fame,” Amonte Hiller said.

Kelly Amonte Hiller was undecided on Northwestern
Time stamp: 14:00

Back in 2000, Hiller was a volunteer assistant for Boston U. when she was contacted about an opening at Northwestern. She had heard little about the Midwestern university, and she was hesitant to even interview for the position.

Amonte Hiller looked for intel on Northwestern, and she found it via her brother and Chicago Blackhawks captain Tony Amonte, who said the campus was beautiful.

The last domino came from her husband, Scott, who encouraged her to take the chance.

The core of Northwestern's dynasty
Time stamp: 23:35

For Northwestern lacrosse under Amonte Hiller, success bred more success from 2005-09.

The Wildcats began their dynasty with talented players — but ones with chips on their shoulders. Names like Kristen Kjellman, Lindsey Munday and Sarah Albrecht led the charge to turn Northwestern into a force.

Once the national championships started pouring in, new players entered the program with expectations.

“Once you get the confidence of winning, the new players just come in and think, ‘We should win,’” Amonte Hiller said. “It’s hard to get over that confidence hump, but once you get over, that’s big.”

Then came another core, this time with Hannah Nielsen, Hillary Bowen and Meredith Frank. They continued the dynasty into the early 2010s — a run that included seven NCAA titles in eight years.

The tipping point in Northwestern's recent resurgence
Time stamp: 27:00

As special as winning seven national titles can be, when Northwestern wasn’t ending the season on top, it hurt Amonte Hiller and her program.

For a handful of years between 2013 and 2019, the Wildcats became an afterthought in the national picture. Amonte Hiller wasn’t sure how to turn the Northwestern program around, so she turned to two of her returning players in 2017.

“I just said, ‘What do you think? Give me your open opinion on things,’” Amonte Hiller said. “We talked a lot, and I feel like I gained a lot of respect from them with that conversation. I just tried to build off of that and learn from them, learn how I could be better and stop just trying to be the best every single day.”

Amonte Hiller credits that conversation with helping change her mindset, and in turn, move her program forward.

What she expects out of her players
Time stamp: 37:15

Hiller is demanding as a coach, but particularly when it comes to work ethic and positivity. She said both are part of her core values and traits that she looks for when forming her Northwestern team.

But as much as she demands out of her athletes, she also wants to build confidence.

“I try to get my student-athletes to believe in themselves, that’s my job every day,” Amonte Hiller said. “I try to get them to understand how valuable they are as an individual.”

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