Fresh Faces on Fitchburg State Sidelines
The sun is setting before 8 p.m., pumpkin-spice everything is virtually everywhere, Oktoberfest brews are arriving on shelves and football, soccer and field hockey players are congregating for preseason practices.
Sure indications that summer is waning and fall is rolling in, and change is coming.
Nowhere are those signs of change more apparent than in Fitchburg State University’s athletic department. Aside from the usual change in athletes courtesy of graduation and transfers, there will be plenty of new faces calling the shots on the sidelines and behind the scenes.
The Falcons head into Autumn with a new athletic director, and half of the programs competing in the upcoming season have new head coaches.
At the top of it all is Matthew J. Burke, who was named the school’s athletic director last month following the retirement of longtime AD Sue Lauder. He’ll have big shoes to fill in replacing Lauder, who spent 22 years at that post and was named the Division 3 Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year in 2017.
The Falcons will have a new leader on the gridiron, as former special teams coordinator/running backs coach Jim McGuire has taken the reins. McGuire was promoted to head coach in February following the resignation of Patrick Haverty. He’ll see his first regular-season game take place Sept. 1 at Elliot Field as Cortland comes to town for a 1 p.m. tilt.
Fitchburg native Kim Cosenza returns home to take over head coaching duties for the Falcons’ field hockey program, replacing Beth Bacher, who spent more than two decades at the helm. Cosenza had previously held head coaching jobs at Worcester State and Elms College. The Falcons will start the Cosenza era on Aug. 31, traveling to Henniker, New Hampshire, to face New England College.
The women’s soccer team will also have a new coach, with Whitney Rogers replacing Patti McColl, who held the role for four seasons. Rogers had previously served as an assistant coach at Mount Saint Mary College after playing two years at both Bryant and Bentley and will get her first game as a head coach under her belt Sept. 1 at Bay Path.
The coaching changes didn’t sweep through every program. Men’s cross country coach Jim Jellison enters his 40th season at the helm, while women’s coach Jamie Aubuchon is returning to the Falcons for an eighth straight year. Both teams open the fall season on Sept. 1, hosting the Jim Sheehan Memorial Invite meet on Sept. 1 at 10:30 a.m. at the Doyle Conservation Center in Leominster.
And the men’s soccer program will see Werner Thissen back on the sidelines for a ninth season when things kick off Aug. 31 with a 7 p.m. contest on the road at Elms in Chicopee.
Follow Nick Mallard on Twitter @n_mallard.