National Champions: Kelly Gallagher ‘06 Leads Tampa Women’s Lacrosse Team to Historic Win


Alumna credits her Washington College coach for guiding her to the profession

Kelly Gallagher and Spartan ladies NCAA DII Lacrosse Champions

It's been a whirlwind month for University of Tampa's Women's Lacrosse Coach Kelly Gallagher ‘06. Just a month removed from her team’s history-making season, Gallagher reflects on the journey that led the Spartans to their first ever NCAA Division II National Championship title. 

"It's been the longest and shortest month since the win," Gallagher said, noting the similar close-knit feel the Florida-based university has to her alma mater. "The family atmosphere [of a school] was always something that was important to me.” That family spirit, and a decade of building a successful program, proved to be the foundation for an incredible season. 

"It's really fulfilling to reach a goal like this after starting on the first page with a team," said Gallagher, who was chosen as Tampa’s inaugural women’s lacrosse coach in 2012 and has spent 11 seasons coaching the Spartans. She emphasized the role of her players, stating, "As much as I'm the head coach and facilitate our program, the student athletes deserve all the credit."  

Kelly Gallagher coaching Tampa SpartansSince graduating from Washington in 2006, Gallagher has coached at Limestone College (2011-12) and NCAA Division I Detroit-Mercy (2008-11) before heading to the University of Tampa. In her 20 years in the profession, she has coached numerous All-American student athletes, and has been named Coach of the Year by the Sunshine State Conference three times. 

Gallagher highlighted the influence of her own past coaches at Washington, Eleanor Shriver Magee ‘93 and Suzanne (Suzie) Friedrich, with playing influencing roles in how she approaches the game today. She credits Friedrich, who is now the Assistant Director of Admissions and Admissions Liaison to Athletics, with guiding her to become a coach.  

"One of the biggest things Suzie taught me was that it's always important to just try and have fun," Gallagher said. This philosophy is evident in her own coaching style and how she approaches each season with her student athletes. "Winning is just the icing on the top," she emphasized.  

"As an athlete, Kelly was a true leader and a sponge," raved Friedrich. "She always had a strong understanding of the game and the strategies but looked for more. As a coach, I loved that! It has been an absolute pleasure watching her career grow as she went from an assistant coach at several schools to eventually becoming the head coach at Tampa, starting that program eleven years ago, and leading them to the top of Division II. She has learned from some amazing mentors and has become one herself. To say I'm proud is an understatement!"

Gallagher’s passion for lacrosse extends beyond Tampa. Currently serving as the President of the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA), she is dedicated to advocating for the sport's growth.  

"It’s been humbling to be elected to lead the IWLCA by my colleagues. Growing and retaining our college coaches pool is our most important job," she emphasized. 

While the busy schedule of a collegiate coach can be isolating, Gallagher finds moments of joy that make it all worthwhile. Her favorite memory from the season wasn't the championship win itself, but the moment after the nail-biting semi-final victory.  

"I saw a set of parents of one of my athletes out on the field," she recalled. "Her older sister had previously played for me...seeing them and realizing that their many generations of players had been a part of this journey as we achieved the big win was a nice full-circle moment." 

Kelly Gallagher and Tampa Spartan Women's Lacrosse Team after NCAA DII Championship win

For aspiring collegiate coaches, Gallagher offers valuable advice: "Practice patience and enjoy it. It's a fun career and so different from a regular 9-5 job. I feel fortunate that I get to do it every day but remember that having fun is paramount."  

 With a successful season behind her and a commitment to the future of the sport, Kelly Gallagher's journey is far from over. The Tampa Spartans, under her leadership, have a bright future ahead. 


- Dominique Ellis Falcon