Tim Folliard – Sports Editor
When the 2021 athletic season begins, there will be new head coaches on the sidelines. Abby Hengesbach is taking over the women’s basketball team and Katie Berkopec is the new head coach for women’s soccer. The new head coach for the men’s and women’s cross-country team has yet to be announced.
Coach Hengesbach has been a full-time assistant coach with the Eagles since the 2018-19 season. Over the summer, she was named the interim head coach after previous head coach Charlie Averkamp became the coach at Hillsdale College.
Hengensbach was an outstanding college player. She earned 2016 NAIA National Player of the Year at Olivet Nazarene University. During that season, she led the nation in total assists, assists per game and steals per game. Hengensbach was named to the All-American three times, earning first team honors twice.
The women’s basketball team has had a lot of success in the past two years. They have a record of 45-8, a conference championship and an NCAA tournament appearance.
Berkopec becomes the head coach after spending four seasons as assistant coach at Loyola University. While at Loyola, she mainly worked with the team’s goalies. Berkopec was named head coach after prior head coach Kyle Stewart left in May.
Berkopec is also an accomplished student-athlete. Playing at UW-Oshkosh, a Division III school in Wisconsin, she was named First Team to the Capital One Academic All-District Team. In her senior year, she recorded 89 saves and a goal against average of 1.12 goals per game. After UW-Oshkosh, she was a graduate assistant at Winona State.
Berkopec has learned a lot from her prior coaching stops at Loyola and Winona State. She is ready to instill a culture of dedication and excellence here at Benedictine.
“I have learned how to raise the standards and expectations of each person so that they can perform at their best individually and as a team. Focusing on the little things is extremely important. Whether it is on the field or in the classroom, the attention to details are key to becoming successful. I hope my energy and passion can also be seen on the field to help fuel the fire for all the players!”
The women’s soccer team has had a .500 or better record in conference every season since 2015. Last year, they were eliminated in the conference tournament in an overtime loss.
Hengensbach and Berkopec brings the total of women head coaches at Benedictine University to five. The other women head coaches at Benedictine coach softball, women’s lacrosse and women’s volleyball.