Karen Lockhart finds a place within Amherst College men’s soccer coaching staff


For the Gazette
Published: 10/20/2016 5:49:34 PM

A glance down most sidelines at a men’s college soccer game will reveal nothing but male coaches.

It’s become ingrained in society that men coach men, women coach women, and men coach women.

That’s not the case at Amherst College.

Next to Amherst head coach Justin Serpone, and assistants Matthew Travis and Derek Shea, stands Karen Lockhart, a first-year assistant looking to make a name for herself in the coaching ranks.

Five months ago, Lockhart graduated from Bates, where she was a two-sport standout in soccer and softball.

Now, the East Greenwich, Rhode Island, native finds herself on the sidelines as an assistant coach for the defending Division III national champions.

Lockhart was excited for the opportunity to join the coaching staff.

“Over the summer I was looking for a lot of different coaching jobs, at first looking at a lot of women’s jobs,” Lockhart said. “Coach Serpone reached out to me and was very gracious about being open to having a woman on board. I was pretty psyched because it’s pretty rare.”

According to the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, 96-98 percent of all collegiate men are coached by men.

“I was a little nervous at first, but as soon as I met the guys I was instantly OK with it,” Lockhart said. “They were really accepting of the idea of it and they’ve been super welcoming from day one.”

Hearing a different voice was good for the team.

“We were all really excited,” junior forward Aziz Kahn said. “It was something we had never experienced before and it was very refreshing. It was really good just hearing a new voice and having a new perspective on things, so we all took to her really well.”

A woman’s perspective on small intricacies of the game has been helpful to the team, according to Serpone.

“My wife (Angela McMahon) coaches women’s lacrosse at UMass and I think sometimes my voice is great for them to hear because it’s a guy and they have a staff of all women,” Serpone said. “For our guys, it’s refreshing to hear from a female coach because they hear from guys all the time. Variety is a good thing.”

Serpone thought the adage that women can’t lead men is just plain wrong and he has confidence in Lockhart’s abilities.

“We’re about to potentially have a women leading our country,” Serpone said. “Those opportunities you’re going to see more and more of them and we’re just happy that Karen is a good fit for the job.”

For Lockhart, she believes it shouldn’t matter what gender you are when it comes to being a good coach.

“Regardless of gender it should just be about soccer and who’s the right fit for the team,” Lockhart said. “It seems like it’s been an OK fit for me and I’ve loved my experience so far.”

Adam Aucoin is a UMass journalism student and can be reached at aaucoin@umass.edu. Follow on Twitter @aaucoin34.

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