NEW PALTZ — Heather Mackay, an East Greenbush, NY native and a 1993 Columbia High graduate, has been hired to coach the field hockey and women’s lacrosse teams at SUNY New Paltz.
Mackay, who had been the assistant coach in both sports at SUNY Oneonta the past three years, takes the reins of a new Hawk field hockey program and a women’s lacrosse program that began in 1998.
“I’m very excited, it being a new team and all,” Mackay said of the opportunity. “These teams are going to pave the way for the future. It’s very exciting.”
A 1997 Oneonta graduate, Mackay led the Red Dragons to the New York State Women’s Collegiate Athletic Association and ECAC Field Hockey Tournaments as a freshman in 1993 and returned to the NYSWCAA Tournament her senior year (1996). She also guided Oneonta to two straight NYSWCAA Lacrosse Tournament appearances in 1996 and 1997.
Mackay, a goalkeeper, set school records for saves in a game and saves in a season in both sports, and also is the school’s career saves leader in lacrosse. She earned First-Team All-SUNYAC Lacrosse honors in 1997, and was a Third-Team All-NYSWCAA Lacrosse selection in 1996 and 1997.
“Heather comes highly recommended, and will be a great addition to our staff,” New Paltz Athletic Director Jim Zalacca said. “Her experiences both as a player and an assistant coach will serve her well as she builds our field hockey and lacrosse programs.”
Mackay said that she expects it will take a few years to build the teams into contenders, but is optimistic that the process may be made easier with word that there are 14 field hockey recruits for the fall and 17 returning players on the women’s lacrosse team.
“As far as field hockey goes, it’s going to be small goals (at first) because we’re new,” Mackay said. “With lacrosse, there has been a team, so we may find quicker success.”
She continued, “I want to put New Paltz on the map. Right now we’re going to be the underdog, but we’re going to make a name for ourselves through hard work.”
Mackay has a bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts, and since 1996 has been a professional artist. She said she plans to eventually enroll in New Paltz’s well-known Art program to begin work toward her master’s degree in Art Education.
Colleen Bruley, who had been the Head Coach of the women’s lacrosse squad for its first three seasons, will remain involved with the team as an assistant coach, and will continue to serve as New Paltz’s Head Women’s Soccer Coach and Senior Women’s Administrator.
Jennifer Motyka, who coached the New Paltz club field hockey team this past fall, and has coordinated varsity recruiting efforts, has decided to move to the Boston area and attend graduate school.