BY JEFF FALK
A hornets’ nest? Or the heiress of unprecedented success?
No matter what she’s walking into, Amy Sokaitis is facing a huge challenge.
Sokaitis is the result of the Lebanon Valley College administration’s national search for a women’s head basketball coach. Sokaitis was introduced to the Lebanon Valley College and Lebanon communities during a press conference in Annville on Thursday.
A native of Alaska, Sokaitis comes to Annville from Southern Connecticut State, where she was the Division Two program’s lead assistant over the past three seasons. With Sokaitis’ help, the Owls qualified for the NCAA Division Two national tournament in 2011-12 and was a fixture in that division’s national polls.
Lebanon Valley will be Sokaitis’ first stint as a head coach.
Sokaitis takes over for the most successful women’s basketball coach in LVC athletic history – and one of the most successful Flying Dutchman coaches of all-time – Todd Goclowski. Goclowski was dismissed from his duties in April, and the Lebanon Valley College administration declined to provide a reason for his departure.
With Goclowski at the helm, Lebanon Valley qualified for seven straight Commonwealth Conference championship game appearances. The Flying Dutchmen have worn three of the last four Commonwealth Conference crowns and have advanced to the NCAA Division Three national tournament over the past five seasons.
“I’m very excited and humbled by this opportunity,” Sokaitis told LVC’s Sports Information Department. “The commitment to excellence and community atmosphere that Lebanon Valley College exemplifies has been apparent since the first time I stepped on campus. I would like to thank Rick Beard and his staff, the hiring committee, and President Thayne for their confidence in me.”
Sokaitis began her coaching career at Yale University, where she spent two successful seasons. As a star point guard, Sokaitis led Monroe Catholic to a pair of state championships in Alaska. Sokaitis played college basketball at Division Two Western State in Colorado.
Sokaitis earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Western State in 2009 and a master’s degree in Management of Sports Industries from the University of New Haven in 2011.
The Flying Dutchmen graduated just two seniors from a 2013-14 club which went 21-7. Lebanon Valley returns four starters for this winter’s campaign, including point guard Kiely Chaklos, Taylor Umbrell, Peyton Carper, Bridget Rothert and Lexie Lantz.