Eastern Mennonite University has announced the hiring of Ashley Kisner as the new Head Field Hockey Coach. She was an assistant coach this past year at Williams College (Mass.).
"I'd like to thank Dave King, Jim Smucker, and the Field Hockey Search Committee for this tremendous and exciting opportunity," said Kisner. "I am grateful and blessed to begin this journey at EMU. I am looking forward to joining the athletic staff and leading the field hockey program."
She spent three years on the sidelines at ODAC-rival Lynchburg College recently, earning a master's degree in educational leadership. Kisner also coached at Wilson College (Pa.) following a playing career at Salisbury University, where she was a starter on a team that won the 2009 National Championship.
EMU Director of Athletics Dave King said Kisner stood out among the applicants.
"Ashley has been a part of several very successful programs, playing and coaching under great coaches," King explained. "And it is obvious that she has learned a lot from them and I believe is ready to step into a head coaching role. She has a good grasp of what it takes to build a successful program."
Kisner replaces E.A. Jackson, who resigned after two seasons with the Royals to take the head coaching post at D-I Towson University. Jackson left the program in good shape, with roster numbers higher than they had been in two decades. The 2016 team finished 7-10 for the most wins since 2011.
With first-hand experience of coaching in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, Kisner said the continued rise in competitive play in the conference entices her.
"I'm so excited to return to coach in the ODAC and return to the Virginia area," she said. "I followed the ODAC closely last year, and I was impressed at the heart, hustle, and new talent displayed by the Royals last season. I knew immediately upon my interview and tour of the campus that I could consider EMU home. I could see Mr. King's passion and commitment to EMU and it inspired me to want to continue to grow the program. I'd like to build on the successes and improvements made by Coach Jackson – she brought in a record number of freshmen recruits to EMU and improved the goals to goals-allowed ratio."
Kisner inherits a team that had four All-ODAC honorees last fall, including two returners: two-time First Team defender Emily Augsburger (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) and Third Team attacker Emily Price (Hampton, Va./Homeschool).
King said Kisner is a good fit to continue the program's recent momentum.
"Ashley is a very detailed and thorough coach with a lot of enthusiasm for continuing the development of our field hockey program," King said. "She is very familiar with the ODAC and has recruiting connections to the field hockey 'hotbeds' of the northeast."
For Kisner, becoming a head coach is part of personal journey that started a decade ago.
"I've known that I wanted to be a collegiate field hockey coach since graduating from high school," she said. "As a coach, I emphasize strong work ethic, passion, sportsmanship, community service and a growth mindset that will transfer to their future careers. In our first season, my goal is to finish in the top third of the ODAC standings, have at least a .500 season, and increase roster size. A long-term goal would be to increase our strength of schedule and to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament."
Kisner's first day in Harrisonburg will be June 1.
The schedule for EMU's 2017 season will be released this summer.