Coach Cat Catanzaro selected as IHSA Girl’s Lacrosse Coach of the Year


Bentley Frost and Maeve Bradley

Each year, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) names the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSA) coaches of the year to the top 10 boy’s sports and top 10 girls’ sports from each member state. Each award is then eligible to receive a national Coach of the Year. 

In October, the athletic department was notified by the Illinois High School Association that Coach Cat Catanzaro had been selected as the 2021-22 IHSA Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year. 

This past Monday, Coach Catanzaro formally received the Illinois Coach of the Year award at the Lake Forest High School home field before playing Oak Park River Forest.

Known closely by her team as “Coach Cat,” Catanzaro has been teaching at LFHS since 2014, where that year she also became the girl’s varsity lacrosse team coach and later became the varsity field hockey coach in 2017. 

Senior Matty Michael has had Cat since her freshman year of high school. After being under her training for eight seasons in total, she believes that Cat is “very deserving of the award.”  

In addition to her selection as the State winner, Coach Cat was also recognized by the National Federation of High Schools as the Section 4 Girls Lacrosse Coach of the Year.  This recognition is extremely prestigious; only eight coaches in the entire country acquire this esteemed award each year. 

“This selection by the IHSA is a clear indication of the positive work and influence Coach Catanzaro has accomplished with her student-athletes,” said athletic director Tim Burkhalter. “Coach Catanzaro works tirelessly at Lake Forest High School, as a head coach of multiple sports, to instill an attitude of hard work, discipline, and passion for the game.”

Cat has been known as an “incredibly dedicated” and “committed coach” to co-workers and current and former players. 

Senior and lacrosse captain Caroline Keil has considered Cat a great role model. “She cares so deeply about each and every one of her players, and she makes all of us so much better not only as players but as people too,” said Keil.  

One strong coaching technique Cat has adapted has been the drill of striders. Although many players dread intense running, Cat has used this training to keep her players in their best shape possible and prepares them for a rigorous season. 

“They really hold us accountable, and I love how Cat uses that to push each player to be the best we can,” said Keil. 

Catanzaro puts a lot of effort and emphasis on preparing her players for all specific situations they may run into, which is a quality not seen in all coaches. Last year, before all the girl’s lacrosse state series games, Cat sat her girls down to talk about what was going to be run differently.

“Warm-ups, starting lineups, and the national anthem are set up differently for the IHSA state series games, so coach Cat drilled these changes into our heads so that we could step out onto that field looking professional… she even gave us a physical diagram of what everything was going to look like to help us understand,” junior captain Lissy Blume said. “You can tell Coach Cat really cares about the team as a whole, and she does everything in her power to make sure we’re always at the top of our game.”