As the Ithaca College softball team runs headfirst into its new season, it is doing so under the guidance of a new interim head coach, former Bomber standout Kelly Robichaud ’16.
Robichaud, who earned her degree in sports psychology, was offered an opportunity in 2019 to return to her alma mater and take on the assistant coaching position alongside former head coach Hannah Quintana ’07, who stepped down following the 2022 season.
A four-year starter, Robichaud led the Bombers in 2015 with a First-Team All-Empire 8 selection, tallying 75 total bases. She went on to be named Empire 8 Player of the Year in 2016 with a .390 batting average and 12 home runs.
Before returning to Ithaca College as coach, Robichaud was an assistant coach at Emmanuel College for the 2019 season. Being a seasoned veteran of South Hill, Robichaud said that she is excited to build her career around the values and tradition of the program that she loved so much as a player. So far this season, she has led the Bombers to a regular season record of 8–3–1.
Contributing writer Noelle Cook spoke with Robichaud about her experience as coach at the college.
This article has been edited for length and clarity.
Noelle Cook: You played under Deb Palozzi and coached alongside Hannah Quintana. What did you learn from them during your time as assistant and head coach?
Kelly Robichaud: A competitive edge is something that I learned from both of the coaches. The program is always hoping to win a conference title and get hosting rights [in the] postseason. So I think that the competitive edge and then the tradition and the values that this program has is what really sets it apart and what I’ve learned.
NC: What are those core strengths and values that you’re looking to impart to your players as their coach?
KR: Leadership is so important. I want all of my athletes to become strong, independent, empowered people that enter the workforce, and softball is a great vehicle to get them there. I want them knowing they’re more than just a stat line.
NC: How have your first few games as head coach gone?
KR: They’ve been very exciting. This group in particular has a ton of energy and they really want to play for each other. Even at practice, the energy is high and they’re having fun, but they have a really good balance of serious fun and knowing how to find that line. If you look at our dugout in the middle of the game, they’re crowded around the opening cheering each other on. Just with these 12 games we’ve had so far, that’s something that makes the energy so different and so amazing.
NC: What do you think that you bring to this team as a former Bomber and the new head coach?
KR: Well I think some of that energy starts with how I come to practice. I’m one of those people who doesn’t need a lot of caffeine. I just kind of wake up energized and excited to find that balance between valuing who my players are as people and becoming their coach on the field. They know that I will push them outside of their comfort zone and try to challenge them, but that they have a safe place with me. I try to be transparent so they know what to expect. They get a very similar person on and off the field.
NC: How have your two seasons as an assistant for the program helped your transition into the new role?
KR: When I accepted the position I had only been a part-time assistant at a previous college. So these past two years have been very helpful. Not only to get to know the behind-the-scenes game day and office duties but also that consistency of knowing who the team is. I’ve had the opportunity to work with four of our now-current seniors, and I’ve been with them their entire careers. Some of them are senior class captains, so to see them develop into those roles has been really cool.
NC: What are your goals for this season as a team?
KR: First and foremost I want us to go out and compete for Liberty League, as well as a regular season title, but primarily have the ability to host the Liberty championship here on campus. I want both that competitive and fun atmosphere. Practice should be the two hours out of their day that they look forward to the most. So those would probably be the three main things, a competitive, fun and supportive environment.
NC: Are you planning on pursuing the full-time head coach position after this season?
KR: I would like to continue on this journey here at Ithaca, so yes. This program in particular is something that has given me so much. I’ve developed my leadership style through softball and have become the person I am today through this program. So it’s something I want to give back.