Posted on 11/19/19
By, Jamie Malloy – Staff Writer
The role of Associate Athletic Director for a collegiate athletics program is often said to be boring, and is also perceived to be just another title created in the field of athletic competition.
For St. John Fisher’s Jill McCabe, she has been through it all, and has had quite an exciting path with years of schooling, as well as gaining much experience as possible, to become the school’s Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Advisor.
Before one may earn this job, they must go through some years of college, and then start small with internships. If they work hard enough, these just may lead into coaching, and then on to greater administrative roles.
McCabe first attended the University of Rochester where she graduated with an undergraduate degree in Optical Engineering. She was not done there, as then she then moved onto Rochester Institute of Technology where she earned her Master’s Degree in even more engineering.
Before arriving at Fisher, she worked at Eastman Kodak from 1991-2001. Not only did she excel in her field of study, McCabe also was an outstanding athlete as a female soccer player, collecting numerous awards over her career.
McCabe attended Smithtown High School where she was named to the school’s hall of fame at the end of her senior year. She then played her college soccer at the University of Rochester where she also made the school’s hall of fame.
Along with her current role at Fisher, she holds an Advanced National License by the National Soccer Coaches of America Association. All of these accolades eventually led to McCabe starting the St. John Fisher Women’s Soccer Program after arriving at Fisher in 2000.
For the past 18 years, McCabe had been both the women’s soccer head coach, as well as the Associate Athletic Director and Senior Women’s Advisor at Saint John Fisher College.
She coached the women up until this year, when she decided that it became too hectic to handle being a coach and then also overseeing other sports in the program. Now that this burden has been lifted, McCabe feels free to dedicate her efforts to her current roles.
“It was very busy,” she said. “I’d go home after practice maybe at 7:00 at night and have dinner with the family, and then basically open back up the computer and do some more work.”
Since arriving at Fisher in 2000, McCabe has overseen a successful program that was originally laid out when it started more than two decades ago. Since she’s been here, McCabe has credited herself along with the rest of the administration for the further advancement of Fisher Athletics.
“We’ve come so far,” she said. “I’ve been here for 20 years and, we’ve come a long way, and since I arrived here, it has been a fun department and atmosphere to work for.”
At the end of the 2018 women’s soccer season, McCabe announced she would not be returning for another year as the head coach, and after a long and extensive search, Ms. Molly Romano was hired to take over the full-time position as head coach for the fall 2019 season.
“It was mixed emotions.” she said, “It was exciting and sad, but it was sad because you really lose that tight connection you had with your players.”
The women’s soccer team finished 7-7-3 overall with a first round exit in the 2019 women’s soccer Empire 8 tournament. McCabe was happy with Romano’s first year at the helm, but not satisfied, as the team is still a couple of years away from being the best they possibly can be.
“Molly had a solid first year,” she said, “she’s putting her own fingerprints on the program which is great, and one of the things I told my players when I announced I was retiring was that I would be one of their biggest fans.”
While McCabe credits her accomplishments over the last 20 years, she also credits her past coaches for inspiring her to wake up and do the job she does now every day. She believes that she learned a lot from them, and now they can learn from her.
“I’ve had a number of very strong coaches.” she said, “My soccer coach over at the University of Rochester (Terry Gurnett) was a mentor and very supportive of my movement over to athletic administration, after engineering.”
McCabe also gives credit to her family for giving its support to her and for always being there to follow her passion of sports.
“They’ve always been extremely supportive.” she said, “They know how important athletics and being involved in sports and collegiate athletics was to me.”
McCabe’s message for young people is simple.
“To any young person, the big thing is networking.” she said, “Take opportunities when you need to and do the best that you can do to further enhance your opportunities.”