One of the sport's all-time greatest players and former Ivy League standout Devon Wills was named The Carole Kleinfelder Head Coach for Harvard Women's Lacrosse, Bob Scalise, The John D. Nichols '53 Family Director of Athletics, announced in August 2018.
"We are thrilled to welcome Devon as our new head women's lacrosse coach," Scalise said. "Devon is widely known as an outstanding coach and mentor, and she returns to the Ivy League after making a tremendous impact at USC. One of the greats in the history of women's lacrosse, Devon brings a winning pedigree to Cambridge and we look forward to her continued success here at Harvard."
"It is a privilege to be named The Carole Kleinfelder Head Coach for Harvard Women's Lacrosse, and I am very grateful for this opportunity," Wills said. "Harvard provides its student-athletes with an unparalleled college experience, combining rigorous academics with nationally competitive athletic opportunities. I am excited to return to Ivy League competition and am committed to building a strong program that will contribute to the championship history of Harvard women's lacrosse. I am confident that we can create an energetic, positive, and successful experience for our student-athletes."
Wills arrives in Cambridge after a six-year coaching stint at USC, serving as associate head coach over the past three seasons, where she worked specifically with the Trojan defense and goaltenders. She was a three-time All-American goalie at Dartmouth, leading the NCAA in goals-against average and helped the Big Green advance to the NCAA championship game in 2006.
"I would like to thank Harvard Athletic Director, Bob Scalise, and Assistant Athletic Director, Caitlyn Prandato, for providing me with this opportunity," Wills said. "I would like to thank the USC Head Coach Lindsey Munday and Assistant Athletic Director Brendan Loftus for supporting me in this decision. Lastly, I would specifically like to thank the current and former Trojan Women's Lacrosse players for making me a better coach and person throughout the last seven seasons."
Wills previously served three seasons (2013-15) as an assistant coach, defensive coordinator, and recruiting coordinator for USC. Before her arrival, Wills was an assistant at Denver for two years (2010-11), a volunteer assistant in 2010 and a full-time assistant in 2011. Wills also served as an assistant for two years (2007-08) at her alma mater Dartmouth.
In Wills' first season as associate head coach, the Trojans set new Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) records with 20 wins and an incredible 20-game winning streak. USC won both the MPSF's regular-season and tournament titles and then became the first-ever West Coast team to host an NCAA tournament game. USC's appearance in the NCAA quarterfinal and finish at No. 5 in the final IWLCA poll were also MPSF records. Wills' direction helped the program post the NCAA's top defense (5.80 GAA), which showcased the national leader in goals-against average: Gussie Johns (6.04 GAA).
Widely regarded as one of the world's elite goalies, Wills was a goalie for the U.S. national team from 2007-17. She helped the U.S. win the 2009 FIL World Cup and was named the Player of the Match in the team's 8-7 victory over Australia in the championship game. Wills returned as a member of the U.S. squad in 2013 and 2017 that claimed record seventh and eighth world championship titles.
On April 13, 2016, Wills was a part of history as the second overall pick in the first-ever United Women's Lacrosse League draft. She was chosen by the Long Island Sound franchise and led her team to the inaugural UWLX Championship. In her first season, she went 6-1, posted an 8.29 goals-against average, and was named a UWLX All-Star. She had eight saves in the championship game to help the Sound defeat the Boston Storm, 13-8, and was named the title game's Most Valuable Player.
While she was at Denver, the Pioneers went 13-5 overall in 2010 with a 6-0 record in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Denver advanced to the MPSF Tournament final and finished with the No. 20 national ranking. In 2011, the Pioneers were one of the top teams in the MPSF and advanced to the tournament semifinal.
As a player, Wills was a four-time (2003-06) All-Ivy League performer with three selections to the first team. She was also a three-time IWLCA All-America second-team honoree (2004-06). As a team captain in 2006, she led the NCAA in goals-against average and helped the Big Green advance to the NCAA championship game. In 2003, she was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Year and earned All-Ivy League second-team notice. She finished her career in second on Dartmouth's all-time saves list (538) and had a 7.14 career goals-against average. With Wills in the net, Dartmouth made appearances in the NCAA quarterfinals in 2003 and 2004, and advanced to the national semifinals in 2005.
A native of Denver, Wills is a two-time recipient of the Women's Lacrosse Award from the Sportswomen of Colorado (2006 and 2009).
Wills received a bachelor's degree in sociology from Dartmouth in 2006.
What They Are Saying
Lindsay Munday, USC Head Coach
"Devon embodies hard work and dedication. She has an unbelievable lacrosse mind and an unrelenting work ethic. She cares about her players off the field and pushes them to be their best in all aspects of life. She is a phenomenal lacrosse coach and an even better person. It has been a true joy working with her at USC, and I know she will do great things at Harvard."
Ricky Fried, Georgetown Head Coach
"I am so happy for Devon. She has earned this opportunity to lead the Crimson. Respected as one of the best players to ever play the game, Devon brings the same qualities to the sidelines that she did to the field; hard work, passion for the sport and a drive to be the best. Throughout her coaching career, Devon has always looked to push the game and her players forward. A natural leader who has succeeded at every level, Devon will bring out the best in her players and lead Harvard to new heights."
Nicole Baiocco '19, Marley Jenkins '19, Keeley MacAfee '19, Harvard Women's Lacrosse Captains
"We are so excited to welcome Devon to Harvard. She is an incredibly knowledgeable and passionate coach and we can't wait to play for her!"