The Fort Lewis College women’s lacrosse program announced Ashley Travis as its new head coach Wednesday.
Travis, who will start Sept. 1, comes from Division III Heidelberg University in Ohio, where she posted a 14-18 record in three seasons. Last year, she led the team to its best finish in program history at 8-9.
FLC went 2-8 last season and missed the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament for the first time in program history.
The Skyhawks were forced to forfeit two games last season against Lindenwood and Colorado State University-Pueblo because they had too many players out with injuries.
With 14 returners and a large recruiting class of 12 incoming freshmen, Travis believes there is a fresh coat of paint on the program.
“What drew me to this position was to be back in Division II, which is where I played in college,” Travis said. “Durango is a beautiful spot, and there’s so much potential with this program. I definitely think there’s a lot of confidence, and I want to bring the wins back. I want to be back in the top three of the (RMAC). There’s a lot of positive energy, and I am looking forward to continuing making strides as we get into the season and beyond.”
Travis is the fifth head coach in the last 10 years at FLC, and she will replace Sean Claussen, who was fired in May. During the transition period, former Fort Lewis player Natalie Mitchell, who played from 2013-16, was named the interim head coach during the search for a new head coach.
Travis played at the University of New Haven in Connecticut from 2012-2015 and was a standout attacker. She scored 30 goals in 59 career games and helped the Chargers reach the top 10 in the NCAA Division II national rankings in all four years. The team also reached the national tournament twice. She spent three seasons at Heidelberg, including as a graduate assistant during the program’s first year, and was promoted to head coach in 2018 after she served as co-coach in 2017.
FLC athletic director Brandon Leimbach said there were more than 40 applicants. He said Travis made it evident during her on-campus interview that she was the right person for the job.
“Ashley knows the game of lacrosse super well, first and foremost,” Leimbach said. “When we talked, she had a great energy about her. She comes from a lacrosse family, growing up just outside of Syracuse, New York, which is a lacrosse hotbed. She had a great playing career with New Haven, was captain during her senior season and is a true competitor. With that being said, Ashley brings a holistic approach to not just coaching but growing the game, as well.”
The hiring process was different than most, with student-athletes playing a key role in evaluating coaches.
“I think the players are really excited about the new leadership, and they’re getting someone with a lot of success at the Division II career,” Leimbach said. “During this process, I really wanted to be transparent with the student-athletes. I kept them updated with the finalists and then had them up for the on-campus interviews to meet the candidates. It was really unique, and we got a lot of good feedback.”
Travis said her top priority will be to get both new and old players on the same page from the start of the season.
“From Day 1, that family-like environment will be huge for us,” she said. “It’s something that I have always been a part of, and I think that’s what makes a lacrosse team special; it’s the relationships. Building that camaraderie will hopefully see a cultural shift within the program.”
Travis is hopeful that the renewed sense of energy around the program will also play its part on the field next spring.
“It’s a fast-paced game with a shot clock, so I’m looking forward to pushing the pace a bit but also slowing it down for a good shot,” Travis said. “I’m not old-school and am all about being creative with the ball. In terms of defense, I like to mix it up...just to throw other teams off. While being creative is a huge part of the game, being on the same page is just as important.”