DURHAM, N.C. – In a statement released by Duke University Athletics on Thursday, it was announced that Blue Devils head women’s lacrosse coach Kerstin Kimel had undergone surgery and is in the treatment stage for early stage breast cancer which she was diagnosed with last month.
“The top priority is to support Coach Kimel as she takes on this challenge while continuing to guide our women’s lacrosse program,” the Department statement read.
The announcement comes on the heels of the No. 6 Blue Devils beating Elon 17-8 in last week’s season opener, and in the midst of Duke preparing to hosts its first home contests this weekend against Richmond (Sat.) and Navy (Sun.) at Koskinen Stadium.
It was confirmed on Thursday night that Kimel would continue to coach and be present as much as possible.
As the only head coach in Duke women’s lacrosse history, Kimel has led the program from its inception in 1996, molding the Blue Devils into one of the nation’s elite teams.
In Kimel’s 19 seasons at the helm of Duke women’s lacrosse, she has guided the Blue Devils to six national semifinals, four ACC regular season titles, an ACC Tournament Championship and 17 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances – the third longest current streak in the nation.
A five-time ACC Coach of the Year, Kimel has overseen 55 All-America selections, 69 all-region honorees and 59 All-ACC picks.
Six of her former players have competed on the U.S. National Team, representing the United States at the 2009 and 2013 World Cups.
The Blue Devils have achieved equal success in the classroom during Kimel’s tenure, collecting 19 Academic All-America accolades since 1997.
A prepared statement from Kimel was included the Department’s release:
“First, I am extremely blessed to have an amazing group of doctors and medical staff here at Duke. I don’t think I could ever thank them enough for their efforts through this process. Second, I am grateful for the outstanding support from our administration, my assistant coaches, co-workers, alumni and Duke Lacrosse families. Most importantly, the young women in our program have handled this sensitive situation just as I had hoped – with class and integrity – and I am so appreciative and proud of each and every one of them. This group has worked incredibly hard this year, both on and off the field, in preparation to be the best team we can be, and compete for the ACC and NCAA Championships. I look forward to continuing that journey with them this season. Jack, our children, our extended family members and I are so fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful, caring people in the Duke University community. We are thankful for and truly appreciate all of the support.”