Staff
Head Coach
Caroline Nelson-Nichols

Former U.S. National Team member and two-time Olympian Caroline Nelson-Nichols completed her third season as Columbia's head coach and sixth with the University in 2017.

Nelson-Nichols was named head coach of the Columbia field hockey program in May of 2015 after spending three years on the sidelines as an assistant coach. She became the fourth coach in program history.

In her three seasons at the helm, the Lions have had 10 student-athletes garner All-Ivy League status and four NFHCA All-Region selections. Nelson-Nichols has coached three of the finest scorers in Columbia history in Maeve Doherty '18CC, Christina Freibott '16CC and Katie Ruesterholz '17CC, who set the school's career point records in back-to-back seasons. Additionally, Doherty earned consideration in the U.S. Field Hockey pipeline, spending time on the National Indoor squad from 2015-16.

During her time as an assistant, Nichols worked with the Columbia backfield. The Lions' defense has seen players such as Bridget DeSandis, Katie DeSandis and Lauren Skudalski earn All-Ivy League and All-Region honors. As a team, the Lions have ranked in the top 15 in defensive saves in each of Nichols' three seasons with the program.

“I am thrilled for this opportunity to lead the Columbia Field Hockey program,” Nichols said at the time of her hiring. “I want to thank Director of Athletics Peter Pilling, Jackie Blackett, and the search committee for their support throughout this process. I am excited to continue to drive the standard of Columbia field hockey forward. With our returning players, incoming class, and alumnae support there is no limit to what we can achieve.”

Nichols wrapped up a brilliant seven-year international field hockey career in the summer of 2014. A pivotal piece of Team USA's backfield, Nichols compiled a total of 165 impressive caps to her name. A solid force on penalty corners and penalty strokes, her skill set was greatly utilized most recently at the 2014 Champions Challenge and Hockey World Cup where the United States made an impressive fourth-place finish.

Nichols was a member of the 2008 Beijing Olympics team, the 2008 Olympic Qualifier team and the 2010 World Cup Qualifier Team. She earned a gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Games when the U.S. defeated top-ranked Argentina in the Championship game. In 2006, she was named to the USA World Cup Training Squad and was a member of the Netherlands Tour team in 2007.

She competed with the 2012 London Olympics team in June 2012 and was re-selected for the National Squad in June of 2013.

Nichols, who an assistant coach at Iowa in 2010, has worked with the USA Field Hockey Futures program since 2008. She has been a certified site director and head coach since 2008 and the Regional Coaching Director for San Diego, Calif., since 2009.

Nichols had an outstanding collegiate playing career at Old Dominion as a four-year letterwinner from 2003-06. She was a national all-academic team selection and an all-conference honoree from 2004-06. As a junior, she was named an NFHCA second team All-South Region selection and was named to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) all-tournament team. In 2006, Nichols was recognized as an NFHCA first team All-American and an NFHCA first team All-South Region honoree. Additionally, she was named the 2006 CAA Player of the Year and CAA Defender of the Year, marking the first time in CAA history someone swept both honors in the same season.

Nichols earned her bachelor of science in biology with honors from Old Dominion University.

Assistant Coach
Samantha Fahey

Samantha Fahey re-joined the Lions' staff in July 2015 after spending three seasons with the Lions from 2010-12.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Samantha back to the Columbia field hockey family,” Nichols stated. “She brings a wealth of hockey knowledge and love for the game that will immediately impact this program. Samantha believes in the vision of we have for this program and is dedicated to developing our student athletes both on and off the field. She is a wonderful fit for Columbia and I look forward to working with her again.”

During her first stint at Columbia, Carr helped the Lions finish above the .500 mark in all three seasons on the sidelines. She also aided in guiding a talented Lions squad in 2011 that produced six All-Ivy League selections and tied for the program record for best conference record in school history at 5-2.

Carr's previous coaching spot was at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, where she was the head field hockey coach during the 2013 campaign.

Carr initially came to Morningside Heights after working as an assistant coach at Harvard in 2009. Prior to her time with the Crimson, Carr was an assistant coach at her alma mater, the University of New Hampshire from 2006-2008.

She began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State University. Carr was also an assistant coach for the USA Field Hockey Junior High Performance Program (New England Region) and director of field hockey operations for the Seacoast United Soccer Club in Hampton, New Hampshire.

While an undergrad at UNH, Carr was an America East first team all-conference selection in 2003 and was a National Field Hockey Coaches Association second team all-region honoree. That same season she was named to the America East All-Tournament Team and America East Academic Honor Roll. She helped the Wildcats reach the America East Championship final and NCAA tournament in 2000 and the America East semifinals in 2002 and 2003.

Carr earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from New Hampshire in 2004. She completed a master's degree in kinesiology and sports administration at Michigan State two years later.

Assistant Coach
Katie Desandis

Katie DeSandis, a three-time All-Ivy League performer for the Lions from 2009-13, re-joined alma mater in April 2017 after one year on the Hofstra coaching staff.

"I am extremely excited to welcome Katie back to the Columbia field hockey family,” said Nelson Nichols. “As a player, Katie was truly dynamic and pushed this program to be better. I know she will bring the same qualities to our program as a coach. Katie understands what it takes to be successful at Columbia as a student and an athlete and I think this understanding will help us continue to drive this program forward."

Prior to her year with the Pride, DeSandis had coaching positions at the University of New England and with the Maine Styx, a club squad in Portland.

DeSandis was a National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) All-Mideast Region second team selection, earned All-Ivy League first team accolades and served as the Lions' team captain as a senior. DeSandis also was named to the All-Ivy second team as a junior and was an All-Ivy honorable mention as a first-year. She recorded 11 goals, 12 assists and 10 defensive saves in 67 games during her college career.

In the classroom, DeSandis was an Academic All-Ivy selection in 2012-13, a four-time Dean's List student and received the Libby Horowitz Scholarship from 2011-13. Additionally at Columbia, DeSandis was the co-founder of an Alternative Break Program, directing the pilot program from 2010-13. She also was a co-founding member of the Student Wellness Program and was a graduate of the Leaders for Life program from 2011-13.

DeSandis, who is a graduate of field hockey powerhouse Emmaus (Pennsylvania) High School, also has an outstanding scholastic and United States Field Hockey Association (USFHA) playing history. At Emmaus, she was a member of two Pennsylvania State title squads and two Top of the Circle National Championship teams. Her teams posted a 96-4 mark during her tenure. DeSandis was also a two-time all-state selection, team captain and most valuable player.

Following graduation from Columbia with a bachelor's degree in anthropology, DeSandis became a corp member of Teach for America (TFA), where she was chosen from 42,000 applicants to teach in under-resourced public schools in Nashville, Tennessee. While pursuing a master's degree in instructional practice at Lipscomb University, she taught biology at Glencliff Comprehensive High School in Nashville from 2013 to 2015 and served as assistant women's basketball coach during the 2014-15 season. DeSandis received her master's degree from Lipscomb in December 2014.