Former Penn State field hockey and women’s lacrosse head coach Gillian Rattray, a Nittany Lions legend who amassed five national titles, died Thursday in State College at the age of 83.
Rattray coached the field hockey program from 1974-1986 and the women’s lacrosse team from 1974-85. In 1980, she earned a spot in the Guinness Book of Sports Records after leading both teams to national championships.
“I had the honor and privilege to coach against Gillian and to admire her Penn State teams from afar,” Athletic Director Sandy Barbour wrote in a statement, noting she played against Rattray’s teams as a member of the Northwestern staff. “She was the ultimate competitor, teacher and mentor. Our field hockey and lacrosse programs are pillars of excellence today, because of Coach Rattray’s steady hand and passion for students. We are saddened by her loss, but know that her spirit will continue to guide us daily.”
Overall, Rattray finished her field-hockey coaching career with a record of 176-49-21 and her lacrosse career with a record of 143-19-3.
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In field hockey, she led the Nittany Lions to two national championships and five straight NCAA tournament appearances. In women’s lacrosse, she helped push Penn State to three national titles while coaching 20 U.S. Lacrosse All-Americans.
“I have immense gratitude for Gillian, as she was the sole reason that I ended up at Penn State,” said field hockey coach Char Morett, who played both sports under Rattray’s leadership from 1975-79.
Rattray retired from coaching in 1987 to devote her time to teaching. She was inducted into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2005, the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Pennsylvania Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2007.
She was also honored in October with a plaque at the U.S. Lacrosse Headquarters during a special U.S. Lacrosse Trailblazers dedication in Princeton, N.J.
“Gillian left a legacy with her career at Penn State,” said Karen Schnellenbach, a former Penn State student-athlete and lacrosse coach. “I feel so lucky to have been coached and loved by her. She lived a great life, touched the lives of so many and she will be missed, but never forgotten.”