Fierce Females of Penn State: Missy Doherty

Photo by Natalie Leonard

Since coming to Penn State back in 2010, Missy Doherty has had numerous successes as the head coach of the women’s lacrosse team. Her successes include winning the Big Ten Coach of the Year award at the end of last season after leading the Nittany Lions to their first ever Big Ten Tournament Championship win, as well as the quarterfinals of the NCAA Lacrosse tournament.

But to whom does Doherty attribute her success? Her fellow female athletes and coaches, of course. “When you’re surrounded by the best, you want to achieve the best,” she says. “We’re hoping to make our imprint on the Penn State community and the athletic community to hopefully be a team that’s looked at as a consistent national contender.”

As for the women on the lacrosse team, Doherty feels that being a student-athlete can allow them to become stronger women. “I think competition sometimes allows you to go through some highs and lows to really experience what it’s like to be disappointed and then to keep working hard and then hopefully see some of the rewards from your work ethic,” says Doherty.

Becoming a Big Ten team last season helped the team to compete and showcase their talents on a more national level, with four of their games featured on the Big Ten Network last season. “To see women come in, and they only get to do this sport for four years, but they’re on TV, they’re competing at a high level, and they’re feeling like they’re a big deal. I think it’s pretty awesome,” says Doherty.

In addition, the Nittany Lions clinched their first ever Big Ten Tournament championship. “Every year has been a little different and a little better so that’s what we look for within our program is to just kind of keep growing, keep getting better,” she says. “Last year winning the first ever Big Ten Tournament was awesome.”

Unfortunately last season, the team was cut short of the NCAA Championship title after losing to UNC Chapel Hill in the quarterfinals. However, Doherty feels that wasn’t Penn State’s only shot at a national championship. “We’re knocking on the door and hopefully we’ll go through it pretty soon,” says Doherty.

In regards to her Big Ten Coach of the Year award, Doherty selflessly points to her teams success as what helped her win. “It’s always a big honor. There’s not really a ‘team of the year’ award so I think the ‘coach of the year’ award goes to the team that has emerged as having a great season or won something like the tournament,” she says. “It’s definitely an honor considering your peers vote, and I have a lot of respect for the Big Ten coaches.”

Doherty still has her competitive edge from her days as a lacrosse player and is thankful for the opportunity to work with and live vicariously through women like the Penn State women’s lacrosse team. Doherty says that, “living vicariously through some athletes that you really respect and enjoy working with makes your job really fun.”

The women’s team is currently 10-4 with two games left in the regular season before the Big Ten Tournament begins. Both games are home with the team hosting Northwestern on April 23 at 12 p.m. and then hosting Maryland, who currently holds the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship title, on April 28 at 7 p.m.