2016: Head Coach Cathy Swezey enters her 19th season leading the Vanderbilt lacrosse team. Her tenure at the helm of the Commodores has included six NCAA Tournament appearances and a 2004 trip to the NCAA Final Four.
Swezey has built Vanderbilt lacrosse into a nationally recognized program, both on the field and off of it. In 2012, graduating senior Ally Carey was named a first-team IWLCA All-American for the third consecutive season and retained her spot on the U.S. women's national senior team. In the classroom, six of Swezey's student-athletes were named to the 2012 IWLCA Academic Honor Roll, while a total of 23 Commodores were so honored by the American Lacrosse Conference.
A native of Moorestown, N.J., and a three-time Division III national champion, Swezey was hired as Vanderbilt lacrosse's second varsity head coach in 1997. Swezey has played a large part in the growth of the sport of lacrosse both at Vanderbilt and throughout Tennessee.
Swezey was the first to bring a team from outside of the eastern time zone to the NCAA Final Four. Her Commodores earned four consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament between 2007 and 2010. Swezey was named the American Lacrosse Conference Coach of the Year in 2008, the same year she was honored as Vanderbilt's Coach of the Year for women's athletics. Nashville played host to a first-round game in the NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Tournament for the first time in history in 2007.
Swezey began building her powerful program prior to the 1998 season. Her first team went 7-9, but it was a mere two years later that Swezey's 2000 squad would defeat a Top-10 team, Boston University, for the first time in the history of the program. Vanderbilt ended that year ranked 13th in the nation--one spot from reaching the NCAA Tournament--and Swezey was nominated as Coach of the Year by the IWLCA.
In 2002, Vanderbilt became a charter member of the American Lacrosse Conference. For guiding her team to its highest ranking ever, No. 8, and its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Swezey earned Coach of the Year honors from the ALC and InsideLacrosse.com.
The Commodores' success has produced a snowball effect in Middle Tennessee. Swezey moved her team into a state-of-the-art facility, the Vanderbilt Lacrosse and Soccer Complex, in 2003. A number of former Commodore lacrosse players now work in the Nashville area as high school and youth lacrosse coaches, and Vanderbilt regularly hosts camps and clinics on campus.
Swezey's coaching career began at her alma mater, Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey). She was a graduate assistant coach for both field hockey and lacrosse from 1994-1996. During that time, the lacrosse team earned two NCAA championship titles, and the field hockey team earned the title in 1995. While coaching, Swezey earned her master's degree in teaching with a health education specialization.
The three-time All-American had an impressive two-sport career at Trenton State. Swezey started for Trenton State's national championship lacrosse teams in 1991, 1992 and 1994, and for the 1990 national runner-up squad. Swezey missed the 1993 season with a knee injury, but returned to the field the following year.
Not only was she an All-American in 1992, she received the honor again in 1994. Swezey was named to the NCAA Final Four All-Tournament team in 1992 and 1994, and earned the Attack Player of the Year award from the South Jersey Lacrosse Club her senior season. She became a member of the U.S. Lacrosse squad upon graduation in 1994.
Swezey, husband Scooter Gross and their three children, Taylor (3), McKenna (7) and Jack (10) reside in Nashville.
The Swezey File
HIGH SCHOOL Moorestown (N.J.)
COLLEGE Trenton State (now known as the College of New Jersey), 1993 Bachelor of Arts in psychology Masters in teaching College of New Jersey, 1996
PLAYING EXPERIENCE Attack/Center • Moorestown H.S. • Trenton State (Captain, `94 squad) • U.S. National Team (`94-95)
PLAYING HONORS All-American (1992, 1994), Attack Player of the Year (1994), NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team (1992, 1994), NCAA Division III National Champion (1991, 1992, 1994), NCAA Division III Runner-Up (1990).
COACHING EXPERIENCE • Member of the United States Women's Lacrosse Association • Graduate Assistant, Trenton State College (1994-96); • Assistant Coach, JMU (`96-97) • Head Coach, Vanderbilt (1997-present)
COACHING HONORS ALC Coach of the Year (2002), InsideLacrosse.com National Coach of the Year (2002), 2004 NCAA Final Four