Meet Kimberly Simons Tortolani

Age: 44

Lives in: Roland Park

Children: Jack (15), Callen (13), Cate (8)

Occupation: Mom, graduate student, community volunteer, former lacrosse and field hockey coach.

 

Q: Your impressive coaching resume spans more than 20 years and includes head coach for US Women’s Lacrosse National Under-19 team, head lacrosse and field hockey coach at Georgetown University, Varsity Coach at Bryn Mawr School, among others. How has girls’ and women’s lacrosse changed since you’ve been a part of the game?

Like with most sports, girls’ lacrosse used to be about just playing the game. Now it’s become something much bigger. Some aspects have been amazing: Title IV and, with it, more and better opportunities for girls. There also has become a growing emphasis on playing earlier, playing more, specializing and a focus on the end result.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect of coaching?

Building a team. I love watching a team grow together—it’s a little bit like raising a family. It requires barking, challenging, encouraging and so on.

Q: You’ve coached longer than you’ve been a mom. Has coaching in any way informed how you raise your kids? 

Absolutely. I often have said I’m a better coach now that I’m a mom. You understand that what you say and do impacts the individual.

Q: What’s more challenging for you: Being on the sidelines of your kids’ athletic events or coaching?

Being on the sidelines is difficult. My husband and I both played sports at a high level (both played lacrosse at Princeton University). We’ve tried to do our best not to put pressure on our kids and be as supportive as we can.

Q: You’ve recently begun moving away from coaching and have returned to school to pursue a Master of Liberal Arts degree at Johns Hopkins. Talk about this transition.

A: For the last few years, I’ve been transitioning away from athletics. It’s been difficult; sports is not necessarily transferrable for a woman. But I’m really trying to find a new path and, hopefully, open up my world a little bit. I do think that when you have children and aren’t working full time, your world can become very small.

Q: Your volunteer community involvement is almost as extensive as your coaching experience. Why?

I’ve felt like there’s something else out there. I’ve always volunteered.

Q: You volunteer for local nonprofit Thread, which works with underperforming high school students to foster academic and personal growth. Talk about that.  

Two years ago, I fell into Thread. It’s been the most rewarding and frustrating job I’ve ever had. I’ve always known there’s a different reality a mile from my house in Baltimore. The hardest part is that, for many of these kids, the things they’re trying to overcome are so multi-faceted.

Q: Describe your role with Thread and how it’s affected your family.

I oversee eight students and the volunteers who work with them. I got close to one of my former students; she comes to our house on a regular basis.

Q: You have a lot going on. How do you balance all of it?

The best thing about being 44 is that you know you can’t do it all and you can’t do it all the way you want every single day. I feel lucky that I’ve gotten to a place where, most days, I can be okay with what I’m trying to do for all these people.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your day, and how do you manage it?

When I’m in my house and I don’t have something specific to do. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to fill those spaces in a meaningful way.

Q: Who do you lean on for support?

I’m very lucky to have an awesome, supportive husband who’s always encouraged me to do my own thing. I’m also very fortunate to have a network of really great female friends in Baltimore who I rely on daily.

Q: What’s your definition of “me” time?

I like doing active things I find challenging and fun. Lately, I’ve tried a bunch of new things: I’ve ridden horses, played tennis and ice hockey

Q: Someone you know is pregnant for the first time. What’s your best piece of advice?

Don’t listen to everybody else’s advice. Trust your instinct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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