The only head coach in Duke women’s lacrosse history, Kerstin 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 25 seasons at the helm of Duke women’s lacrosse, she has guided the Blue Devils to seven national semifinals, four ACC regular season titles, an ACC Tournament Championship and 19 NCAA Tournament appearances.
A five-time ACC Coach of the Year, Kimel has overseen 33 All-America selections making up for 101 honors, 85 all-region honorees and 76 All-ACC picks. Seven of her former players have represented their countries on the world's stage, competing at the 2009, 2013 and 2017 World Cups. The Blue Devils have achieved equal success in the classroom during Kimel’s tenure, collecting 74 Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association Academic Honor Roll accolades since 1997.
Kimel recorded her 300th career victory Feb. 7, 2020 in a win over Gardner-Webb. She is one of just eight active Division I head coaches with 300 or more wins.
Kimel was honored with an IWLCA Service Award in November, 2016 for her work as co-chair of the NCAA Division I Legislation Committee to slow down early recruiting within the sport. She was presented with the IWLCA's highest award, the Diane Geppi-Aikens Memorial Award, in November, 2015.
Duke returned to the NCAA semifinals to punctuate an outstanding 16-5 campaign in 2015. Led by a veteran group of eight seniors, the Blue Devils concluded the season ranked fourth in the final national poll. Attacker Kerrin Maurer became Duke’s career assist leader and garnered first team All-America recognition from the IWLCA. Goalkeeper Kelsey Duryea headlined the Blue Devils’ three All-America selections in 2016, and concluded an outstanding career as one of just three goalkeepers in ACC history to top 600 saves for her career. She ranked among the nation’s leaders in save percentage while anchoring Duke to an 11-9 ledger and a trip to the NCAA second round.
Draw control specialist Olivia Jenner became the program's all-time leader in the category during the 2018 campaign and continued to climb the NCAA record book as a senior, wrapping up her career with 512 draw controls. She also earned second team All-America recognition from the IWLCA in 2019 and helped the Blue Devils lead the nation in draw control percentage.
The Blue Devils recorded 14 or more wins four times from 2009 to 2014, advancing to the national quarterfinals on five occasions and the semifinals in 2011. Under Kimel’s watch, Duke produced 13 All-America selections during that time, while Emma Hamm (2011) and Carolyn Davis (2009) were named finalists for the Tewaaraton Trophy. Led by Davis and Caroline Cryer, the 2009 squad rewrote the program’s offensive record book, totaling team highs in goals scored (313), assists (150) and points (463). In 2013, Duryea became the first goalkeeper in program history to receive All-America recognition as a rookie, rounding out the season ranked top-10 nationally in save percentage and saves per game. A two-time first team All-American on defense, Taylor Virden wrapped up her senior campaign (2014) ranked second in program history in career draw controls.
From 2004 to 2008, Duke put together one of the most successful stretches in program history, advancing to four consecutive national semifinals from 2005 to 2008 and earning at least a share of four-straight ACC regular season titles from 2004 to 2007. During that span, the Blue Devils placed 21 players on both All-America and all-region lists, in addition to posting three Tewaaraton finalists. Kimel led Duke to a 13-8 overall record and the Blue Devils’ fourth-straight NCAA semifinal appearance in 2008, earning womenslax.com Coach of the Year honors for her efforts.
Led by Tewaaraton Trophy recipient and two-time ACC Player of the Year Katie Chrest, the 2005 and 2006 Duke squads combined for a 35-7 overall record, including a program-best 18 victories in 2006, a 7-2 mark in the ACC and two conference regular season titles. After seven consecutive NCAA Tournaments bids, the 2005 installment earned a trip to the national semifinals for the second time in program history to ignite Duke’s string of four straight appearances.
From 2000 to 2002, the Blue Devils advanced to three consecutive NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, and in 2001, made the program’s first ACC Championship game. However, success did not always come easy, as Duke’s 12th women’s varsity program began its inaugural season in 1996 with four-straight losses before earning the Devils’ first win -- a 10-6 victory over UMBC on March 18, 1996. Duke began its rapid ascension the following season, recording an 8-8 mark before breaking through in 1998 with the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid. The 1999 season took Duke to new heights as the Blue Devils achieved the program’s first trip to the NCAA semifinals.
Kimel's Early Years
Prior to her arrival at Duke, Kimel was the head coach at Davidson College, leading the newly-created Wildcats program to a 4-8 record in 1994 as one of the nation’s youngest head coaches in her first and only season at Davidson.
Kimel was no stranger to NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse before her time at Davidson, having played at the University of Maryland from 1990-93. During her career, she led the Terrapins to four consecutive national semifinal appearances and the 1992 NCAA National Championship. The Havertown, Pa., native was a two-time All-America selection and the 1993 NCAA National Defensive Player of the Year, appearing in Sports Illustrated’s "Faces in the Crowd." Kimel graduated from Maryland in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in speech communications.
Prior to her collegiate career, Kimel was a standout at Haverford High School, earning first team All-Central League, All-Delaware County and USWLA All-America honors. Her numerous accomplishments have landed her in both the Haverford Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame - Delaware County.
Kimel has also been a prominent figure on the international level as a member of the U.S. Elite Team from 1992-96 and as an alternate for the U.S. national team that captured a gold medal at the 1993 World Cup.
In addition, Kimel served as chair of the IWLCA Growth Committee from 1999-2000 and as Chair of the NCAA South Region Selection Committee. From 1998-2002, she was on the selection committee for the U.S. Elite/Development squads, also working as an assistant coach for the U.S. Development squad from 2000-03. Kimel has also worked as Chair of the IWLCA/USL Division I All-America committee and completed a four-year term as a member of the NCAA Division I Women’s Lacrosse Committee in 2007. In 2006, she became co-chair of the IWLCA External Relations Committee and served on the Tewaaraton award selection committee in 2008. During the summer of 2008, Kimel was elected to the IWLCA Board of Directors and acts as a Division I representative.
Most recently, Kimel served as Co-Chair of the IWLCA Recruiting Issues Committee from 2014-16 and is currently the Chair of the IWLCA Division I Legislative Committee and the South Region FBS representative on the NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Committee.
The Kimel Family Tree
Kimel’s family tree includes many outstanding athletes, beginning with her father, Mike Manning, who played basketball at West Chester University, and her mother, Sallie Manning, who was a member of the tennis and field hockey squads at West Chester. Both her brother, Mike, and husband, Jack, played baseball at Western Carolina before moving on to play for the Texas Rangers organization, while her sister, Lindsay, played lacrosse at James Madison University and served as an assistant coach for the 2003 and 2007 World Champion U.S. under-19 teams. Her extended family also includes five collegiate basketball players - uncles Ed (Villanova) and Chris Manning (Philadelphia College of Textile) and cousins Alicia Manning (Lafayette), Marissa Manning (Kings College) and Christina Manning (Muhlenberg College) - one collegiate swimmer - uncle John Manning (Villanova) - two baseball players - cousins Brian Manning (Villanova) and Pat Manning (Atlanta Braves minor league) - and one hockey standout - brother-in-law Matt Mulhern (Boston College).
Kimel’s eldest daughter, Frances “Caroline”, continued the trend of being a collegiate athlete as a member of the East Carolina women’s lacrosse team. At East Carolina, Caroline reunited with former Duke assistant coach and East Carolina head coach Amanda Moore. On March 10, 2020, Kerstin was able to see her daughter play collegiate lacrosse for the first time as she coached against her in Duke’s game against East Carolina.
Kimel and her husband Jack reside in Durham with their three children - daughters Frances "Caroline" and Claire and son Russell McKinley "Mac."