WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The University of Saint Joseph (USJ) has announced the hiring of Karen Nell as its next head coach of the women's lacrosse program and first-ever head coach of the inaugural field hockey program, which is set to begin competing in the fall of 2020. The announcement was made this afternoon by Amanda Devitt, USJ's Director of Athletics.
"We are thrilled to announce that Karen Nell will join the USJ family as our new head women's lacrosse coach and inaugural head field hockey coach," said Devitt. "Coach Nell's experience, winning mentality, and passion for both lacrosse and field hockey at every level is unrivaled and we look forward to her joining us in the next few weeks."
"I am thankful and blessed for the opportunity given to me by the University of Saint Joseph to be a part of the growth of its women's athletics programs during a very exciting time for the University," stated Nell. "I believe my passion and personal commitment to promoting a positive, competitive, and engaging environment for every student-athlete goes hand in hand with the vision USJ has for its future. I look forward to the challenge ahead in building the women's lacrosse program and inaugural field hockey program to maximize their performance, success, and foster mutual respect on and off the field as members of the NCAA and Great Northeast Athletic Conference."
Nell comes to USJ from New Fairfield Public Schools, where she spent the previous 12 seasons as the head coach of the field hockey program and last seven seasons as the head coach of the girl's lacrosse team. Nell has been extremely successful while at New Fairfield, winning three-straight Class S State Championships in girl's lacrosse from 2017-2019 and back-to-back South-West Conference Championships in 2018 and 2019. In seven seasons, she compiled a record of 124-32 and was named Connecticut Class S Coach of the Year following the 2018 season.
Nell also saw success as the head field hockey coach and in 12 seasons racked up a record of 148-76-24. She led the Rebels to the 2008 Class S State Championship and was named the NewsTimes Coach of the Year. Nell has also successfully helped established a youth field hockey program and runs camps in conjunction with World Camp USA throughout the New Fairfield area.
Nell also spent one season coaching at the collegiate level as the assistant women's lacrosse coach at Division III and intrastate opponent Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) in 2015. There, she helped guide the Colonials to the second round of the Little East Conference (LEC) Tournament, a 10-8 overall record, and a 4-2 mark in the LEC. It marked just the fourth winning season in WCSU program history since the school started sponsoring women's lacrosse in 2000.
Nell attended Boston College on a field hockey scholarship, but an injury prematurely ended her playing career. She went on to earn her associate's degree in physical therapy from Housatonic Community College before obtaining a bachelor's degree in psychology from Charter Oak State University.