Local athlete, national champ: Kate Livesay
Katy Perine was a surprise.
When her parents, Carolyn and Ken, went to Porter Hospital for the birth of their third child, they discovered only then that Carolyn would indeed deliver their third — and fourth. Their doctor and friend, Chip Malcolm, examined an X-ray and said, “Looks like two!”
Kathryn was born 15 minutes after her sister, Kristi. That was July 19, 1980.
Jump three decades and Kathryn (Perine) Livesay is the reigning Division III National Women’s Lacrosse Championship coach. Her Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.) team won the national title a week ago Sunday at Montclair, N.J., defeating perennial power Salisbury, 8-7.
This triumph does not come as a surprise. Kate Livesay has put together a stunning record in the six years she has been head coach of women’s lacrosse at Trinity:
• Her won-loss record this year was 21-1. Her record over six years is 87-22.
• She has been honored this year as the NESCAC Women’s Lacrosse Coach of the Year — the fourth time in six years.
• Her teams have played in the NESCAC tournament all six years she has been their coach and the NCAA tournament five times.
• The year before she took charge of the Trinity program, at age 25, the team was 5-9. In her first year the Bantams were 12-5, came in second in the NESCAC tournament, and won a game in the NCAA tourney.
Kate comes from a local family of athletes. Her mom, dad, and siblings Chandler, Jennifer, and Kristi all played high school sports, and were college athletes at Middlebury, Dartmouth and Bowdoin.
When I asked Kate who was her “greatest influence” in sports, she quickly credited her mother. “As a kid I grew up knowing that my mother played field hockey, basketball and lacrosse at Middlebury College and it became a dream of mine to do the same.
“I remember when my Mom was teaching lacrosse and coaching my sister Jenn’s sixth-grade team. They played on that field behind St. Mary’s School. Kristi and I were only in the fourth grade but we got to play with the big kids, and we thought that was a big deal.”
An inkling that she might like to grow up and coach came early. She recalled “Career Day” in junior high when students “shadowed” people in the workplace.
“I chose to ‘shadow’ Amy Backus, women’s basketball coach at Middlebury College, on the day of a game. I went to the pregame meeting and sat on the bench next to the coaches during the game. They gave me a clipboard and asked me to keep some stats. It was thrilling for me.”
At Middlebury Union High School, Kate was a star athlete, playing field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse, winning a host of honors, and playing on state championship teams in field hockey (’96) and lacrosse (’98).
Between high school and college, Kate spent a year at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. “I knew I wanted to come to Middlebury, but I worried about the ‘local’ thing,” she explained.
Deerfield provided the break she needed. Kate was a standout from day one in field hockey and lacrosse at Middlebury College and ultimately earned all-NESCAC honors in those sports.
Middlebury lacrosse was in an era of spectacular success. “We won the NESCACs each year I was there (’99-’03) and won the National Championship in my sophomore and junior years.”
She also played basketball for two years at Middlebury College for Coach Norene Pecsok. “Basketball was my favorite sport. I just wasn’t very good at it, couldn’t put the ball in the hoop!” she said with a laugh.
Kate spoke with enthusiasm about the academic side of her life as a student/athlete. An American Civilization major, she enjoyed her courses in college, particularly her senior essay on Bob Dylan and his cultural impact.
Kate traveled for six months after graduation to Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia, then joined the master’s program at Trinity, studying history and serving as a graduate assistant in field hockey and lacrosse.
Her dissertation was on the Navy’s V-12 program during World War II, which had soldiers training at Middlebury, one of whom was her grandfather, Gordie Perine. “My grandmother, Alice, was a phenomenal resource.”
Her lacrosse coach at Middlebury College, Missy Foote, is Kate’s “number one role model. She’s very inspiring — so competitive but respectful of the way her players represent themselves and the school. I think a lot about Missy at Trinity. We talk often.”
For her part, Missy is thrilled by Kate’s success. “It’s so fun now that she’s a colleague.”
“Kate was defender in lacrosse, not a scorer,” Missy said, “and she really studied the game. Her strength as a coach is that she can analyze what the other team is doing and adjust her strategy — and then convince her players to go out and do it.
“She is confidently calm. Her teams don’t rattle.”
Kate explained the essence of her coaching approach. “It’s about balance. I want a balance between hard work and fun. I want players to be focused and committed, but I want them to laugh and have light moments too.”
Kate also has balance in her personal life. She is the mother of two small daughters, Alice, 3, and Dana, 6 months. Her husband, Reeves, teaches math at the Kingswood-Oxford School.
Kate Livesay — a brilliant young coach, from Middlebury, Vt., and Middlebury College:
And that’s no surprise.
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