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Get To Know Penn State Women’s Volleyball Coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley

Earlier this week, Penn State women’s volleyball made history when it named Katie Schumacher-Cawley the third head coach in program history.

Schumacher-Cawley was likely an easy choice for Penn State given her long-running familiarity with the program. She’s been with the Nittany Lions as their top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator since 2018. More recently, she served as interim head coach for a few weeks once Russ Rose retired to cap off a 43-year career.

Before coaching at Penn State, Schumacher-Cawley spent the better part of a decade leading smaller programs, including Illinois-Chicago and Penn. Over a nine-year span, her teams compiled 125 wins.

Up in the Windy City, Schumacher-Cawley began her coaching career as an assistant for six years before assuming head coaching duties in 2009. Over an eight-year coaching stint, Schumacher-Cawley led the Flames to 113 wins — the third-most in program history. At Illinois-Chicago, she coached student-athletes who earned two Horizon League Player of the Year honors and 11 All-Horizon League accolades.

Later on, Schumacher-Cawley spent a single season as Penn’s head coach and compiled a 12-11 record. At the time, it was the best season for the Quakers in nearly half a decade.

Long before coaching, though, Schumacher-Cawley played for the program she now leads. From 1998 to 2002, she served as a cornerstone of the Penn State women’s volleyball team and brought home the Nittany Lions’ first national title back in 1999.

Schumacher-Cawley left the program as a two-time All-American when she graduated with a degree in communications in 2002. She finished her career with 1,310 kills, 772 digs, and 299 blocks under her belt.

“She always had an incredibly strong arm and loved to attack, went hard every day, and was an individual who cared about the team,” Russ Rose said in a phone interview with DigNittanyVolleyball. “[She] was focused on what was best for the team, and not necessarily what was best for her as an individual player. I admire the fact that Katie as a player was committed to the team and was a key contributor to the team’s success, and as a coach understands the various roles that each player needs to embrace for the group to succeed.”

Across campus, Schumacher-Cawley spent time playing for Penn State women’s basketball as an upperclassman. Just the other day, she visited the Bryce Jordan Center with her family to receive a warm welcome from Penn State fans (and hand out some free t-shirts).

Moving forward, Schumacher-Cawley is tasked with succeeding Rose, who ended his career with a seemingly insurmountable seven national titles, 17 Big Ten championships, and a 1,330-229 (.853) overall record. However, he believes his former assistant has all the makings to keep Penn State’s program in contention.

“I’m thrilled that a number of our former players are electing to take positions in coaching…I think it’s a great indication that they had good experiences and want to continue in the industry,” Rose told DigNittanyVolleyball this week. “I think that’s a source of pride for me and others who have been involved in the program for a long time.”

For now, Schumacher-Cawley’s biggest focus likely lies in restocking a depleted roster. A handful of players — Jenna Hampton (South Carolina), Gabby Blossom (San Diego), and Annie Cate Fitzpatrick (Florida) — have already transferred from the program, although the former two depart the program with degrees from Penn State. Star middle blocker Kaitlyn Hord and setter Emily Oerther are also reportedly in the transfer portal.

Penn State will train over the summer before officially beginning the Schumacher-Cawley era when the season begins in late August. The Nittany Lions are coming off of a 21-11 season that ended with a second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Pitt.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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