All in the Family

Chrissy Ritter ’16

Three lacrosse players had unique perspectives on the meaning of team at Middlebury

Kate Perine Livesay ’03, who coached the women’s lacrosse team to a national championship last spring, knew she had a few secret weapons that season: Three of her seniors were the daughters of Middlebury coaches.

Katie Mandigo ’16, the goalkeeper who was voted Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA tournament, is the daughter of Bill Mandigo, the longtime women’s hockey coach; speedy midfielder Chrissy Ritter is the daughter of head football coach Bob Ritter ’82 (and sister of Kate Ritter ’15, also a standout lacrosse player for the anthers); and Maggie Caputi is the daughter of assistant football coach Dave Caputi ’81. Maggie, one of the team’s best defenders, saw her season cut short by an injury.

In the NCAA tournament, Kate said, “Katie was so good, and it wasn’t just what she did on the field.” She had not always been outspoken, so when she did open up in the locker room, her teammates took notice. Said Kate: “I think they were like, ‘Whoa, this is really going to happen. Katie’s dialed in, and the rest of us are going to join her.’ ”

Katie Mandigo, now a teacher and coach at Holderness School, said she arrived at Middlebury, where she also played ice hockey for her father, expecting to be part of a winning tradition. Growing up, she’d watched her father’s hockey teams win national title after national title, and the players were her role models—and occasionally her babysitters. While teams had a lot of success in her four years of hockey and lacrosse, none had won their final game. Until the 2016 lacrosse team.

“All through the NESCAC playoffs and the NCAA tournament,” Katie said, “we had confidence, knowing that we had each other’s backs. We were doing this for a reason, and the reason was to win. I think sometimes in the past the reason was just to make the final four. This year, yes, we were glad to make it to the final four, but we were there to win.”

Chrissy Ritter, now working for Charlotte Moss, an interior design firm in New York, talked about the importance of relationships “among a team and a coach. Our team was so incredibly close, and there was never any type of hierarchy happening. We were all there for the same reason, and pushed each other hard to where we wanted to be. … This started for us our freshman year with Missy.”

She said she had benefited from watching her dad coach, and “grew to understand what it means to be part of a team. … This made me want to be part of a Middlebury College team, and I am beyond lucky that I was able to be on a national championship team. Not to mention that I was coached by two of the best coaches in women’s lacrosse history. Missy and Kate were both inspirations to each of us.”

Katie Mandigo said Kate and Missy shared a coaching philosophy, believing in taking advantage of fitness and athleticism, and working hard in practice. And accountability was a central tenet. She recalled arriving for her first practice with Kate, in her junior year. She’d just finished hockey season, and Kate was shooting at her, and Katie was having trouble clearing the ball, getting passes on target. “A lot of other coaches would kind of yell,” Katie said, “but I remember that Kate just said, ‘You know what you need to do.’ She wasn’t letting me off the hook, but she was putting it on me. She held us accountable.”

She recalls trying to find Kate in the crush after the Panthers had won the title game. “I think everyone on the team was doing the same thing,” she said. “She had to hug like 500 people. She helped me so much as a person and a player. She’s a great person, a great mom, a great coach.”

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