Find your passions in life and pursue them–life is too short to waste time doing things that don’t make you happy! -Kelly Kuss, Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Bucknell University
This fall, my good friend Kelly Kuss will coach her first season as a Division I Head Women’s Soccer Coach. She joined the Bucknell University coaching staff this spring. Before landing this opportunity, Kelly was the First Assistant Coach for the Dartmouth College Women’s Soccer team, and before that, she was an Assistant Coach at Amherst College. I’ve always been so inspired by Kelly’s passion for coaching and was thrilled when she agreed to share her career story and a few details about her life off the field. Here’s her interview…
1. After high school I…went to Colgate University in Hamilton, New York to pursue a career as a high school teacher and club or high school soccer coach. My career goals changed as I spent the next five years as a varsity soccer player. My head coach, Kathy Brawn, was the first person who presented the idea of being a collegiate coach as a potential career path to me. In my redshirt year, I started exploring the career more seriously. (A “redshirt” year is a year in which a student-athlete does not compete against outside competition; Kelly redshirted her senior year due to a knee injury.) I volunteered in the soccer office to learn about recruiting and the behind-the-scenes responsibilities of a college coach.
2. My first job after college was…Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach and Assistant Women’s Lacrosse Coach at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. I’m very fortunate to have been given that opportunity right out of college. I was extremely excited to be on the sidelines for my first season as a college coach, and I felt fortunate to be given such an incredible opportunity, especially at an institution such as Amherst College. The head coach at Amherst is Jen Hughes. Jen is a Colgate alumni and was the assistant coach who recruited me to play soccer at Colgate, but she left Colgate to take the Amherst position right before I arrived at Colgate.
3. The most frequent question I’m asked about being a head coach is…if my job is full time. The answer is YES! My first–and in my opinion most important–responsibility as a head coach is to be a mentor and role model for the 27 women in my program. I am one of their closest resources on a college campus.
At the Division I level we practice all year long, and from August to May, we typically train five to six days per week. In our championship season (August-November), I typically work seven days a week, and I’m responsible for coordinating all travel, meals, and other details that arise with playing anywhere from one to three games each week. My staff films and breaks down each game, and we review the footage with the team.
Out of season, the schedule is a bit more relaxed. This is the time we typically devote to recruiting for the next class of soccer players. I travel all over the US watching girls in elite tournaments to determine if they are a good fit for my institution. In the off season I also organize a series of summer camps for both the youth in the community and the new recruits. In addition to designing training sessions, I also organize numerous community service events for my team to be involved with throughout the year.
4. My favorite part of my job is…the student athletes and alumni I had the privilege to coach.
5. The happiest moment of my life was…when I married my husband, Andrew, a few weeks ago.
6. I never thought I would…own a Great Dane, but Andrew really wanted one. Now, I can’t imagine my life without our Great Dane, Timber.
7. A seminal moment was…playing at Colgate University for Kathy Brawn; I would not be where I am today without that experience.
8. To stay productive I…make lists. It helps me remember what I need to do and helps me prioritize. I like the feeling of checking tasks off my list, and I enjoy getting things done. I try to get things done every day. For example, if I leave my inbox for a couple days it gets completely overwhelming, so I respond to emails every day.
9. The last vacation I took was to…Fort Pierce, FL on my HONEYMOON! We stayed in an oceanfront condo.
10. The last book I read was…14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson. I read it on the beach during our honeymoon. The book is in the Women’s Murder Series. I’ve read all 14 books in order! Very easy reading with mostly women characters in high ranking positions. Great for the beach!
11. For date night, I like to wear…my Rainbow Sandals that I have had for 10 years, a pair of J.Crew shorts, and a simple, lightweight V neck t-shirt from Gap. Our dates usually consist of cooking and grilling in our home. We both enjoy cooking. Occasionally, we will head out to a pub or local pizza place but either way no need to dress up.
12. My beauty routine is…simple. Shower, hair up in some kind of messy bun, and a little bit of eye make-up. I am big Clinique make-up fan! I don’t wear very much makeup, but find eye liner, eye shadow, and mascara a must.
13. Anything else you’d like to add…I owe my parents so much for all of their support in everything I do and have done!
Thank you so much, Kelly!
PS. More career stories and a few photos from Kelly’s wedding.
(Photos via Kelly, wedding photographer Jay Kennedy, Dartmouth College, and The Patriot League.)