July 29, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State women’s lacrosse coach Alexis Venechanos announced the hiring of Jill Byers and Christie Kaestner as assistant coaches Tuesday. Byers, a standout All-American at Notre Dame (2006-09), comes to Columbus after spending the last five seasons as an assistant coach, including last year at Stony Brook, while Kaesnter, who also was an All-American at Duke (2007-11), joins the Buckeye program after two seasons as an assistant at Coastal Carolina.
“It is with great enthusiasm we welcome both Jill and Christie to Buckeye Nation,” Venechanos said. “They both bring many invaluable qualities to the program with their leadership, positive energy and creativity. I am looking forward in working with them collaboratively as we enter our first year in the Big Ten Conference.”
Byers moves into the position vacated by Christy Leach, who was named the head coach at Stetson University, while Kaestner replaces Gabby Capuzzi, who was named an assistant coach at Navy.
Both Byers and Kaestner bring a wealth of experience and success to the OSU women’s lacrosse program, which is coming off one of its best seasons in program history, collecting 13 wins and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 11 years.
Last season, Byers helped lead Stony Brook to an impressive 17-win season, claiming the America East Title and an NCAA Tournament appearance. The Seawolves posted 11-concecutive wins, and broke their own Division I record for goals allowed per game, yielding an average of 5.65. Prior to her stint at Stony Brook, Byers sidelined as Notre Dame’s top assistant and helped her alma mater to an NCAA Tournament berth in 2013.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Jill in our program,” Venechanos said. “She had an incredible playing career and her vast coaching experiences will no doubt help our program immediately. I am very impressed with her ability to connect with student-athletes to motivate and inspire them.”
Prior to her coaching stint in South Bend, Byers was an assistant at Yale for three seasons. In 2012, she directed a Bulldog offense that netted 137 goals, a 65 percent increase from the previous season and the most for the program since 2008.
A 2009 Tewaaraton Trophy finalist and team captain, she produced a historic playing career at Notre Dame, where she graduated as the all-time leader in goals (262), points (336) and draw controls (154). A four-time IWLCA All-American and 2009 Honda Award finalist, Byers wrapped up her collegiate playing days fourth in NCAA history in career goals and 10th in points. After her league-record 78 goals in Big East Play to be named Big East Attack Player of the Year, Byers was voted the second runner-up for Notre Dame’s Female Athlete of the Decade Award. A two-time Big East Academic All-Star, Byers graduated from Notre Dame in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in film, television and theatre.
The Northport, N.Y., native also played for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2008-12, where she competed with and against the best players in the world.
At Coastal Carolina, Kaestner helped start a new Division I program from the beginning as an assistant, which had its first varsity season in 2013. A team consisted mainly of freshman, she helped guide the offense to 159 goals and finished the season with 221 points. Four Chants scored more than 20 goals, and three eclipsed the 30-point mark. Additionally, three players received the Big South’s Freshman of the Week award throughout the season for their offensive performances. Last season, the offensive output increased to 171 goals, scoring 10.05 goals per game with 26 underclassmen on the roster. Two members were named all-conference players, while seven players collected double-digit point totals in 2014.
“Christie’s passion and dedication to lacrosse is very impressive and I can’t wait for her to start working with our student-athletes,” Venechanos said. “Her decorated playing career and her coaching experiences so far will benefit the continued growth of our program.”
A native of Trappe, Md., Kaestner was a standout player at Duke where she tallied multiple awards and records. As a senior in 2011, Kaestner earned first team All-American and first team All-ACC honors as she led the Blue Devils to the NCAA Semifinals. She also was named to the IWLCA All-South Region team in both 2010 and 2011. Kaestner finished her Blue Devil career with 93 goals and 98 assists to rank ninth all-time in the Duke record book with 191 points. During her senior campaign, Kaestner set the Duke single-season assists record with 47 on her way to ranking second all-time with 98.
Kaestner, a three-time member of the ACC Honor Roll, graduated in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, as well as a Markets and Management certificate.