Lehigh alumna Gina Lewandowski is back at Lehigh after 15 years in the majors.
Lewandowski graduated from Lehigh in 2007 as a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year. After Lehigh, she signed to FFC Frankfurt, a German football club, where she played for four years.
She then returned to the states and joined the Western New York Flash for one season, after which she returned to Germany for one more season with Frankfurt before transferring to Bayern Munich, another German club. She played there for seven years.
After that, Lewandowski returned to the states once again to sign with Sky Blue FC in Howell, New Jersey, before announcing her retirement from the majors.
Lewandowski said she is thrilled to be back at Lehigh and impart her wisdom on the next generation of Lehigh soccer players. She said playing at a higher level throughout the years gave her a new perspective not only on coaching, but on being a teammate and leader.
“I would like to take my experiences playing pro — both domestically and internationally — and help the younger generation become better leaders,” Lewandowski said. “Also learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and understanding it will take you to that next level.”
Lewandowski said she has always wanted to get into coaching, and she knew returning to Lehigh was the right place to try it out. She has been friends with head coach Lauren Calabrese for years and said they grew up playing together. Lewandowski said coaching with Calabrese was an experience she couldn’t pass up.
Calabrese said she is looking forward to working with her former teammate in a new type of collaboration. She said they’re already planning how to establish a long term culture of hard work and competitive excellence for the program.
“She knows the Lehigh tradition, the family and the legacy from when we played here,” Calabrese said. “She has a really high level of knowledge and respect to systems of play and tactical analysis.”
Lewandowski is also in a unique position in her role on the sports performance team because she gets to work in a partnership with her former coach Eric Markovcy, Lehigh’s director of sports performance.
Markovcy said Lewandowski has always been a great leader, so he knew she would be an asset to the athletic department.
Markovcy said Lewandowski came back periodically to Lehigh for intermittent training, so he has been able to watch her growth from the time she was a first-year to present day. He said she has always been aware of herself and her nutrition, which is an important task the sports performance team tries to get all student athletes involved in.
Markovcy said he can’t wait to see how Lewandowski connects to the student athletes outside of the soccer program. He said she can connect with and inspire the athletes, especially the women, since she has been in their shoes.
“She has a wealth of knowledge in playing at the highest level,” Markovcy said. “I think that brings instant credibility. We’re trying to teach that independence and teach that growth and she’s obviously embodied that in every way.”
In her short time back on campus, Lewandowski has already made an impact on the women’s team. Senior Ryelle Shuey, captain of the women’s soccer team, said Lewandowski has been a helpful resource to her and the rest of the team.
“It just comes down to a lot of little details and little tips of advice,” Shuey said. “Just hearing all of her experiences and stories has been very impactful.”
Lewandowski said she is excited to help Lehigh athletes be the best they can be by using her experiences as both inspiration and motivation. She said being able to help Lehigh student athletes achieve their best version of themselves is something she hopes to accomplish.