Kim Connell is already feeling pretty comfortable at Nazareth.
The Roadrunners’ new coach led her team at the two-day York Shootout last weekend and Nazareth won all three of its games Sunday at Loyola University’s Shoot-out By the Lake, which featured games over three days played by nearly two dozen teams, including schools from Iowa and Wisconsin. Because of a previous commitment to York, Nazareth could play only on the final day at Loyola in Chicago.
Connell was named Nazareth’s new coach in April, nearly a month after getting laid off as an English teacher at Waubonsie Valley, where she led the Warriors to titles at Thanksgiving and at Wheaton North’s Neibch Holiday Classic. Connell went 75-11 and won three consecutive regional titles in three seasons at Waubonsie after replacing Kris Kalivas.
Before arriving at Waubonsie, Connell taught and coached at Rockford Boylan for 12 years. At Nazareth, she joined the school full-time as both an English teacher and assistant athletic director to Duane Buturusis.
Connell discovered the opening through a post at the Illinois Athletic Directors Association website. She replaced Charlie Rohlf, who stepped down due to an increased work load at the school and is preparing for his upcoming wedding. Rohlf will return this fall for his eighth season as girls golf coach at Nazareth.
Connell has spent the summer installing her new system. With AAU season coming in July, Nazareth will finish the summer playing in the Maine West summer league, but will not participate in the Maine West Observation tournament July 20-22.
“All the X’s and O’s have been my stuff. The girls have responded well,” Connell said. “I have a good group of girls.”
Connell said she looked forward to returning to a private school and knows that academic atmosphere will be different than Waubonsie Valley. At Boylan, Connell went 258-106.
At Waubonsie, Connell was one year away from receiving tenure but was victimized by budget cutbacks at the school. On April 4, longtime boys varsity assistant coach David Owles was named to replace Connell as girls varsity head coach.
One surprise for Connell has been the interest in the program at Nazareth.
“With our athletes, the numbers have been bigger at Nazareth than my old high school,” Connell said. “They have been bigger than what I had at Waubonsie Valley.”
The difference in enrollment between the schools is quite significant with Waubonsie at 2,895 students and Nazareth at 1,359.
Before going into coaching, Connell played field hockey at Schaumburg and continued playing the sport at Indiana State University. She was a member of Schaumburg’s 1977 state championship team before the sport was discontinued by the IHSA.