Coach (and much more) Kroupa
Kathy Kroupa’s already outdated business card tells you many things, but mostly one thing: She’s busy
When she’s not coaching two varsity teams on campus—softball and women’s soccer—she’s working as the senior woman administrator of Susquehanna athletics and the CHAMPS/Life Skills coordinator, two more hats that somehow fit with amazing ease.
“I am very fortunate to have a job that I love,” says Kroupa. “We have tremendous student-athletes here, and they make all the extra time and effort I put into the many facets of my job worthwhile.
“I just try to balance every thing, and time management is definitely key. I think it is always easier to work hard when you love what you do and whom you work with.”
The 2008–09 school year was one of the most successful in the history of SU athletics, and Kroupa’s teams had much to do with that.
In the fall, she guided the women’s soccer team to a 5–9–4 record, including a fifth place 2–3–1 mark in the Landmark Conference, just one spot shy of the postseason. Nonetheless, SU’s finish helped the department place first in the fall standings of the Landmark President’s All Sports Cup.
Women’s soccer also landed three players on the 2008 all-Landmark team and an amazing 17 players on the 2008 Landmark fall academic honor roll, more than any other SU team.
“[That] team is headed in a great direction, and I am very excited about the upcoming season,” says Kroupa. “Last year, we had so many close games that we just didn’t convert into wins. I know this year will be different.”
Things got even better in the spring, as SU softball rang up a 22–15–0 record, including a second place 8–4–0 Landmark count. Among SU’s 22 wins was a 5–4, extra-inning victory at nationally ranked No. 21 York College of Pennsylvania on March 17.
The Crusaders were led by four all-Landmark players in 2009, including two first-teamers. The women also earned 10 spots on the Landmark spring academic honor roll last season, including Gretchen Halsey '09, who also landed on the 2009 conference fall all-academic team.
The team finished second at the 2009 Landmark championship tournament. Following the tournament, Kroupa and her assistants earned the Landmark Coaching Staff of the Year award.
Kroupa’s first baseman, Laurie Blaszka '09, led the team with five home runs in 2009, one shy of the single-season school record. Blaszka’s 10 career homers are the Susquehanna record. She earned SU athletics’ esteemed Connie Harnum Award for the 2008–09 academic year, an award that annually honors the athletics department’s female senior who best represents the ideals of intercollegiate athletics.
“Our softball season was amazing,” says Kroupa. “The ladies did such a great job and really performed to the high level I knew they could.
“Playing for a championship was awesome, and even though we didn’t win, I am so proud of our team and all of our accomplishments. The best part of it is that while we lost two key players to graduation, that is all we lost. So there is a lot of excitement about what we can accomplish next year.”
Kroupa has posted a 115–101–1 record during her tenure with SU softball, including winning seasons in five out of the last six years. She picked up her 100th win with the team in a 6-3 Landmark victory over The Catholic University of America on March 21.
A native of Weston, Conn., Kroupa was a four-year starter as first base for Gettysburg College from 1992 to 1995, earning first-team Centennial Conference honors as a senior. She also started at goalkeeper for the Gettysburg women’s soccer team and still holds school records for career wins (44), shutouts (26), save percentage (.842), saves (420) and saves per game (6.46).
“I think my background as a student-athlete really drives me in my profession,” says Kroupa. “My experiences in athletics were great, and I want to help our current student-athletes realize that same great experience.
“I truly believe that the values and skills that you learn in athletics transcend into your entire life, and those life lessons are what have gotten me to where I am today.”
Kroupa served as head softball coach at Rosemont College during the 1997 and 1998 seasons before becoming head coach at Franklin & Marshall College in the fall of 1998. She improved Rosemont’s 120–0 record in 1997 to a 23–13–0 record the very next year.
She has been the head women’s soccer coach at SU since 2006 and the head softball coach since 2003. After graduating from Gettysburg in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Radford University in 1998.
“When I first went to graduate school, coaching was not my primary goal,” says Kroupa. “I really thought I wanted to work in counseling services or a similar venue.
“I was on campus for about two days when I realized I had to be involved in athletics in some way. So I started as a volunteer assistant coach while I got my master’s degree. As I started doing both the counseling and the coaching, I realized the skill sets were so similar and what I was learning in the classroom was a perfect match for a career in athletics. It all just started to fit together”—much like her many jobs here at SU have seemingly fit together perfectly.
The contributing writer to Scoreboard is Robert Edward Healy III, director of athletics communications.