Coaches who guided two young Vassar teams to success in Liberty League competition were rewarded with Coach of the Year honors this spring.
Veteran Swimming and Diving Head Coach Lisl Prater-Lee, Assistant Coach Alex Lee, and Diving Coach Brian Bolstad won the league’s Coaching Staff of the Year award after the Vassar women’s team earned second place in the league championships, Vassar’s highest finish in school history. It was Prater-Lee’s third such honor, having also won the award in 2019 and 2005. Women’s Tennis Head Coach Marty Perry earned his second straight Coach of the Year citation, leading his youthful Brewers squad to a second-place finish in the Liberty League Championships.
Prater-Lee, who finished her 29th season as head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, said this year’s honor was especially rewarding because the season was studded with outstanding performances by young swimmers, led by four first-year student-athletes. Bella Rippon ’26 set a school record in the 200-individual medley; Abbe Colgan ’26 and Abigail Mc-Laughlin ’26 were members of relay teams that also set school records; and Addie Wiener ’26 won the 500-yard freestyle in the Liberty League Championships. “Our depth was evident all year,” Prater-Lee said. “We had some returning swimmers who were really good leaders, and a lot of talented newcomers.”
Assistant Coach Lee said the team’s success—and his award—were the result of hard work by everyone on the team. “Working with Lisl and Brian was an absolute joy this year,” Lee said. “We would never have been able to achieve this honor without the work that everyone put in, both in the water and in the classroom.”
Perry, who succeeded legendary Women’s Tennis Head Coach Kathy Campbell in 2021, credited his predecessor with helping him acclimate to the job. He said he had met Campbell while he was a coach at Virginia Wesleyan University. “I definitely knew who she was and what she had accomplished here,” he said. “She really helped open the door for me, and I welcomed her at practices and our matches.”
Perry said the start of the 2022–23 season presented some challenges because four of his eight players were first-years. “It took some culture-building at the start, and then our #1 singles player (Erin McCusker ’26) rolled her ankle early in the season, and another young player (Macey Dowd ’25) took over and had a great year,” he said.
“It makes you feel good that you’re recognized by your peers,” he said. “It reinforces that you’re doing things right.”