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Kayla Treanor hire keeps it in the family for Syracuse women’s lacrosse

One of the most prolific SU WLAX alumni takes over the program looking to achieve the ultimate goal.

Northwestern v Syracuse Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

When the news broke on the evening of Sunday, June 6 that Gary Gait was going to become the next head coach of the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse team, it took almost no time for Kayla Treanor’s name to appear in conversations about who would replace him as head coach of the women’s lacrosse team.

It’s not difficult to figure out why. Despite never having been a head coach before, the 27-year old has accomplished quite a lot in her lacrosse career. She’s one of the most successful, decorated players in the history of the women’s game as both a collegian and pro/international. Her coaching career, which began as soon as her college days ended, has been a similar success as offensive coordinator/associate head coach for Boston College.

John Wildhack summed up Kayla’s credentials pretty succinctly in his official statement:

“Kayla has experienced success at a championship level both as a coach and a student-athlete...Kayla is one of the most decorated players in women’s lacrosse history. She is the right person to guide our program as we take the next step to win a national championship.”

It’s tough to argue with that final sentiment. Treanor is universally beloved in the Syracuse community, and it was her name on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it came to replacing Gait. Her former teammate, Alyssa Murray, even started a petition for Kayla to be named the team’s next head coach. The petition garnered almost 140 signatures even though it was only being signed by alums of the women’s lacrosse program.

For the first time, John Wildhack and SU athletics were provided an opportunity to replace Gait with one of a handful of distinguished women’s lacrosse alumni now in the coaching ranks. There’s Katie Rowan, now head coaching Albany. Michelle Tumolo, now head coaching Wagner. Becca Block is an assistant coach at Harvard. But Treanor seemingly topped everyone’s list.

By choosing Treanor, SU is continuing their practice of keeping the head coaching job in the Syracuse lacrosse family. Of the seven head coaches in Syracuse men’s and women’s lacrosse history, five of them have been SU alumni. And the only two who weren’t were the coaches who started the respective programs: Laurie Cox in 1916 and Lisa Miller in 1998.

For the first time, the women have one of their own (an Orange WLAX alum) running the program. It’s a move that’s as exciting as it is important. It’s no surprise, then, that Kayla took the time to emphasize family and home on the day of her official hiring:

“Accepting this job was a chance to come home to a place that I love, where I feel really connected with the Syracuse family — they've become my family. Certainly, I feel like I’m coming home, and I feel like this is the place where I belong”.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Treanor said that she met the team via Zoom on Tuesday night, and that she will be holding on to assistants Sydney Pirreca and Caitlin Defliese. That’ll be good to maintain a semblance of continuity for the current team.

What’s especially intriguing about Kayla Treanor as a coach is her status within the lacrosse community. She’s incredibly well respected as a coach, but as one of the best and most exciting players in the sport, she’s admired by so many young players in the game today. Ask around college lacrosse right now about who the current players looked up to in their youth, Kayla Treanor is going to come up as much as any name, if not more.

Anytime there’s a coaching change in college, you worry about how the players will react to a new boss who they didn’t commit to play for out of high school. With Kayla, you really don’t have to worry about that. But don’t take that from me. Let Meaghan Tyrrell and Emily Hawryschuk tell you how they feel about this.