Trio of New Head Coaches Prepare their Teams for Spring Success
By Jack Herr, Sports Editor
The fields and diamonds of Gettysburg College will feature the debuts of three new head coaches this upcoming spring athletics season. Brooke Kalman and Cory Beddick are newer to their programs—softball and baseball, respectively—but fans of the Bullets women’s lacrosse team are already familiar with Charlotte Cunningham, who served on the coaching staff for the past four seasons. All three are working to continue the tradition of success their predecessors left behind.
Cunningham has been a major part of the women’s lacrosse team’s recent success. For the past four seasons, she has worked as an assistant coach and a strength and conditioning coach. Since she took the position in 2018, the Bullets have gone a dominant 47-8.
Even so, she still has big shoes to fill. Former head coach Carol Cantele had a legendary career, amassing 446 wins, 13 Centennial Conference championships, and three NCAA titles in 30 seasons. Cunningham is nothing but grateful to have learned from Cantele, saying the former head coach is “the reason I’m getting to live out my dream of leading this program … She’s taught me to lead with kindness and passion, and she provided me the ability as an assistant coach to make mistakes, learn, and develop as a person and as a coach.”
Last year, the women’s lacrosse team went a stellar 19-4 overall, clinching their 13th conference title and making it all the way to the national tournament semifinals. When asked about maintaining this level of success, Cunningham emphasized that her plan “is to continue bringing in excellent students and players who define what Gettysburg lacrosse is, and who find joy in competition and hard work … I’ll continue to create a competitive environment where we take risks, build up the people around us, and have fun while doing it.”
“We set lofty goals, and then we set our eyes on the process over the outcome,” she continued, commending her group of seniors and captains who are already “leading the drive.” Like most coaches during preseason, Cunningham wants her team to improve on a daily basis, focusing on the little things that will help them down the road during real competition.
Unlike with Beddick and Kalman, many of the student-athletes of the women’s lacrosse team already know their new head coach well, which will make for a smooth transition. While this is a testimony to the program’s ability to develop competent coaches, Cunningham still sees “investing in relationships and developing trust with the players” as a fundamental part of her job. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” she said.
Cunningham defines her coaching philosophy as a focus on “growth, commitment, and achievement.” Her first test as head coach comes on Feb. 18 against Stevenson.
Brooke Kalman, new head coach of the softball team, is no stranger to Gettysburg either. She played her college ball with the Bullets and graduated in 2014 after tallying four years as a catcher. According to Kalman, this undergraduate experience was a primary motivator to return as a coach.
“It has always been my dream to get back to Gettysburg and coach here,” she said. “The college and the softball program are both very special to me and did so much for me throughout my four years, so now having the chance to give back to both is truly special.”
Since she left Gettysburg, Kalman has accumulated significant coaching experience while bouncing around the country. While in graduate school at Villanova University, she worked as an assistant coach for Ursinus College, one of Gettysburg’s conference foes. Getting the opportunity to lead a team as head coach, she then went out to Ripon College in Wisconsin, where she spearheaded the program’s rebuild. She credited her time in the Midwest for “truly learning how to coach.”
Kalman then returned to the Centennial Conference and coached Franklin & Marshall. Later, MIT reached out to her with an offer that she could not refuse, given the school’s place as a top-25 team in the country. While the pandemic impacted her time there, the team was able to earn a bid to a regional championship game last season, a story of success she hopes to replicate at the college she once called home.
The softball team eked out an above-.500 record last year, going 19-18. While Kalman would love a 20-win season, she is prioritizing “the growth and development of the program.” To do so, she must forge connections with her new squad, which she says is a task made easier due to her “having been in their same shoes not too long ago.” The softball team is short on staff this season, so she has been focusing on individual and small group work to get to know her student-athletes both on and off the field.
Overall, Kalman is cultivating a team culture that emphasizes a “blue collar work ethic”; “Working hard may not guarantee anyone success, but it will put you in a much better position to be successful.” She strives to be as “authentic” as possible, wanting to embody and demonstrate to her players the type of person she wants them to be.
The softball team begins their season down in Myrtle Beach, SC, where they will compete against Albion College on Mar. 4 in the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic.
Like Kalman, new head coach of the baseball team Cory Beddick also has roots in Gettysburg College. A graduate of 2010, he manned the diamond as an infielder for four years. He joined the coaching staff as an assistant coach the very next year but then took a detour, spending time at Hood College (where he built the baseball program up from scratch) and Penn State Behrend. Most recently, Beddick spent the previous five years at Washington College, where he took the Shoremen to their first conference playoffs since 2012.
“When I decided to pursue a career in college coaching, returning to my alma mater as the head coach was always the goal,” Beddick said. Though it is only February, he and his staff are already gearing up for the season—but with a new roster comes the challenge of gaining the trust of his players, something he values immensely.
“The best part of my job is being able to build relationships with the players,” he commented. “It’s not something that happens overnight. I want them to know that we care for them as people, students, and baseball players.”
The baseball team went 18-20 last year. Their 9-9 conference record put them in seventh place in the Centennial. There is room for improvement, and Beddick is bringing the energy, enthusiasm, and confidence to do just that.
“Our team is focused on building an environment where we play for one another, unselfishly, and are willing to do whatever it takes to win,” he said.
Balancing his confidence, though, is the day-to-day mentality Beddick wants his team to embrace: if they focus on getting better each practice, he sees his team having “the talent and desire to earn a spot in the Centennial Conference playoffs.”
When asked about his coaching philosophy, Beddick said, “I want to provide the best possible experience for our players. I want them to succeed in the classroom, make a positive difference in the campus community, and I want them to be champions on the diamond.” He is committed to helping his student-athletes “become the best versions of themselves” and “reach their potential.” The baseball team begins competition on Feb. 20 against Mary Washington and will head to Florida over Spring Break to refine their game.
Cunningham, Kalman, and Beddick are poised to lead their teams to victorious seasons this semester. Each of them feel the weight of the high expectations that come with being head coach, but each of them have the experience, attitude, and dedication necessary to succeed. The Gettysburg faithful are eagerly waiting for the first signs of spring so they can get to the field and diamond.
This article originally appeared on pages 22 to 23 of the February 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.