Molly O'Donnell enters her first season as an assistant coach on the Columbia softball staff. She comes to Columbia from SUNY Cortland, where she spend the 2014 and 2015 seasons as an assistant coach.
O’Donnell specializes in hitting instruction and has extensive experience in offensive development, using practice programs, batting philosophies and analytical tools for player improvement and growth. In addition to her offensive responsibilities with the Lions, O’Donnell will serve as the team’s recruiting coordinator, as well as play an integral role in scouting and team video operations.
“I am more than excited to have Molly join our staff,” stated head coach Jennifer Teague upon O'Donnell's hire. “She brings energy, youth and a continued commitment to learn more about the game as it evolves. On top of her duties in assisting our team offensively, Molly will work defensively with our infielders. She played for and coached beside two NFCA Hall of Famers, so I know her work ethic and inner drive will help make Columbia softball second to none in the Ivy League.”
O’Donnell worked alongside National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Hall of Famer Julie Lenhart in her two seasons at SUNY Cortland. Lenhart has coached the Red Dragons for 22 seasons, winning more than 800 career games, qualifying for 15 NCAA Division III playoffs and seven World Series. O’Donnell assisted Lenhart’s teams to their two most recent Div. III playoff appearances in 2015 and ’16.
Prior to her time at SUNY Cortland, O’Donnell spent the 2014 season at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where she helped guide the Thoroughbreds to their first postseason appearance in four years. O’Donnell and the rest of the Skidmore staff were named 2014 Liberty League Coaching Staff of the Year.
O’Donnell was a two-year captain and four-year letterwinner at Ithaca College. There, she was coached by NFCA Hall of Famer Deb Pallozzi, who has amassed 790 career wins following the 2016 campaign. O’Donnell was named a First Team Empire 8 All-Star as a freshman in 2010, and earned second-team accolades after hitting .348 with 29 RBIs her junior season. O’Donnell’s performance in the 2010 postseason landed her on the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team.
O’Donnell graduated magna cum laude from Ithaca College in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in sport management. She went on to complete her master’s in sport management at SUNY Cortland in 2015. Additionally, O’Donnell has completed National Fastpitch Coaches Convention (NFCC) courses in World Series Observation, Offensive Strategy and Dynamic Practice Planning.
Vondrak joined the Lions in January 2016 after serving as the assistant coach at New York University since August 2014 where she was primarily responsible for recruiting efforts and working with the Violets’ pitching staff. With a freshman-heavy roster, Vondrak saw the Violets compile a 12-24 record while finishing the season 12-10 with wins in four of its final five games.
A 2013 graduate of Long Island University-Brooklyn with a Bachelor of Science degree in health science, Vondrak was a three-year member of the Blackbirds' softball program. She spent two years as an undergraduate on the squad and one as a graduate student, earning a Master of Exercise Science in fitness for special populations from LIU-Brooklyn in 2014.
Vondrak pitched in three Northeast Conference (NEC) title games for the Blackbirds, helping the squad to the 2012 NEC Championship and earning Tournament MVP honors in the process. A three-time All-NEC Tournament team selection on the field, Vondrak also shined in the classroom where she was a member of the Dean's List, NEC Athletic Academic Honor Roll and the Chi Alpha Sigma National College Athlete Honor Society.
Before attending LIU-Brooklyn, Vondrak earned an Associate of Arts degree from Western Nevada College in 2011. While there, she was a two-year member of the Wildcats' softball team where she redshirted as a freshman and pitched for the squad as a sophomore.
Prior to her time coaching at NYU, Vondrak helped work at a Harlem RBI Real Kids summer leader with AmeriCorps. While there, she helped build lesson plans designed to help youths build teamwork, conflict resolution and self-esteem. Vondrak also organized and coached the baseball and softball teams for elementary school-aged participants.
Vondrak also spent time as a softball coach for the Greenwich Village Little League, focusing on all aspects of softball. She instructed pitching lessons, organized and ran practices, evaluated teams and opponents, and managed and motivated players during games.
Other experience for Vondrak includes volunteer work with the Special Olympics softball competition in New York where she assisted in several areas, such as scorekeeping, escorting athletes and presenting awards.
A native of Carson City, Nevada, Vondrak currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.