Athens began her coaching career with a three-year stint at Messiah College, one of the premier teams in NCAA Division III. The Falcons won three conference championships in three seasons. Messiah was ranked No. 4 in NCAA Division III at the end of the 2017 regular season.
While at Messiah, Athens developed 14 all-region players, two conference Defensive Players of the Year, and goalie Alex Dipeso into a two-time All-American. She was nominated for the IWLCA Division III Assistant Coach of the Year in 2016.
As a player, Athens was a four-year starter, three-time team captain and three-time NCAA All-American at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. She was named the Conference Carolinas Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014, leading the Falcons to its first two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history.
Athens, an accounting major and business minor, was a four-time All-Academic Team member and a four-time Pfeiffer Scholar-Athlete Award winner. She went on to earn a Masters of Arts degree in Education from Messiah in 2016.