Dartmouth’s Schram in right place at right time

By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 01-20-2023 8:37 PM

HANOVER — Taylor Schram did a lot of moving about the United States over the last decade, all in pursuit of becoming a Division I college soccer head coach.

Last month, Dartmouth gave Schram that coveted opportunity.

The Big Green parted ways with previous coach Ron Rainey after the conclusion of the 2022 season in early November, and a national search led them to Schram, who spent two years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Dartmouth before most recently working as the associate head coach at Boston College.

“Since I stepped into this profession, I always wanted to pursue a head coaching position,” Schram said. “I set a goal for myself to do it by the time I was 30 years old, and I turned 30 last May, so I am proud of the fact that I’m right on track. Life usually doesn’t pan out exactly the way you plan it, but I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Schram grew up in the Pittsburgh area and stayed in Pennsylvania for college, enjoying a standout career at Penn State. The Nittany Lions won three Big Ten championships during Schram’s years in State College, advancing to the NCAA title game in 2012.

Penn State coach Erica Dambach had previously been the head coach at Dartmouth, back when she was known as Erica Walsh. In just three seasons in Hanover, she led the Big Green to Ivy League titles in 2000 and 2001 — reaching the third round of the NCAA Tournament both years — and made the tournament again in 2002.

During her college years, Schram also spent time with the U.S. U20 national team, playing with the squad at the 2012 U20 World Cup in Japan. She helped the Americans win the tournament, playing alongside current senior national team players like Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz and Sam Mewis.

“I have to credit the coaching staff at Penn State for really paving the way for me and finding my passion in coaching,” Schram said. “It was through them that I realized the impact a coach can have on a player, not only on the field but off the field. I have great relationships with the entire staff there today, and I’m really grateful for how they shaped my experience and have driven my passion in this career since.”

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Schram immediately went into coaching after graduating from Penn State, starting as a grad assistant at West Virginia as she pursued a master’s degree in athletic coaching education. The Mountaineers won the Big 12 in both of her years on staff and reached the national quarterfinals in 2015.

The next stop for Schram was an assistant coaching role at Binghamton, where the Bearcats finished last in the America East in her first season but won a share of the conference championship in her second. From there, Schram spent a year as an assistant at Florida Gulf Coast, a year in which the Eagles finished 13-4-2 and defeated Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State in non-conference play.

After that, she was hired as an assistant to Rainey at Dartmouth, where her responsibilities included analyzing the Big Green’s and opponents’ film and creating individualized development plans for each player. As recruiting coordinator, Schram also identified players and families to bring to campus for official visits — which, of course, were canceled along with Dartmouth’s 2020 season due to COVID-19.

“The recruiting process was paused for about nine months,” Schram said. “A lot of it, at that point, became coaching virtually, so putting together a tactical analysis that I could present to the players from national team film or NWSL game film. It became a lot about player management, just taking care of the players in such a difficult time.”

Schram then spent two seasons in the No. 2 role at Boston College, which struggled in the rough-and-tumble ACC but competed against several of the best programs in the country. When the Dartmouth head job opened, Schram threw her hat in the ring and became one of athletic director Mike Harrity’s first big hires since he took that post in July.

Harrity involved the Big Green’s returning players in the search process, and the upperclassmen were familiar with Schram from her previous stint in Hanover.

“That certainly didn’t hurt, the fact that she had coached some of these young women, but her ability to articulate a vision, give a concrete plan, present that … she articulated it beautifully,” Harrity said. “We couldn’t be more excited about what she’s going to bring and what she already has brought to the program.”

Dartmouth last made the NCAA tournament in 2005 and finished in the top half of the Ivy League standings just twice in seven seasons under Rainey. It’s a conference that has raised its profile in recent years, finishing seventh among all conferences in the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) in 2022. Harvard and Brown each had a top-25 RPIs and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Ivy League will also be adding a conference tournament for the first time in 2023, with the top four teams in the regular-season standings participating. It’s an opportunity for many teams to be playing meaningful games down the stretch even if a regular-season title is out of the question. The winner of the conference tournament, as is customary, receives the league’s automatic NCAA tourney bid.

Harrity expressed confidence that Schram is the right person to lead Dartmouth through the conference’s exciting transition period, saying a player told him recently that this is the hardest she has worked in training and the best she has felt about playing for the Big Green.

“I’ve been around a lot of coaches in my career, and I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone better in their first month in terms of getting after it, prioritizing, getting people on the phone, getting folks to campus,” Harrity said. “She’s got an engine, she’s got a motor, and it’s palpable when you’re around her. She absolutely emanates what this program can and should be.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.

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