Athletic Hall of Fame Spotlight: Ginger Walsh Cobb

by St. Andrew's Communications Staff
When Ginger Walsh Cobb joined St. Andrew’s as an English teacher in 1987, she knew she wanted to coach, too. An Honorable Mention All-America lacrosse player at Denison University, Cobb said coaching would be her way of giving back after four years of fun and camaraderie with her college team.
It’s clear to many in the St. Andrew’s community that Cobb has gone above and beyond her call to give back, bringing home championships and regional acclaim for St. Andrew’s athletic and academic programs in her 25 years at the school.
 
“She’s dedicated her life to St. Andrew’s,” said former Director of Athletics Al Hightower. “She believes in community, in including people, in setting high expectations… she exemplifies all the things St. Andrew’s believes in.”
 
Cobb will be inducted into the St. Andrew’s Athletic Hall of Fame on October 13 as part of the 40th Anniversary Reunion Weekend. The third class of Hall of Fame honorees, which include Cobb, the 1992 girls soccer team, and standout athlete James Ryan ‘98, will be recognized during the Celebration Dinner on Lion’s Court.
 
Cobb, known over the years as Coach Walsh to some, Coach Cobb to others, was head coach of the girls varsity soccer and lacrosse teams from 1987 to 1992. She left St. Andrew’s for six years to earn her master’s and teach overseas in Poland and Ivory Coast, returning in 1998 to become the new Director of Athletics. She resumed her role with the girls lacrosse team and was an assistant girls soccer coach before stepping down from coaching in 2003.
 
Stacy (Hough) Smith ‘91 played soccer for Coach Walsh and was on the school’s first PVAC Championship girls soccer team in 1989. The team would take home two more banners: in 1990 – an undefeated season that yielded the school’s first All-Met First Team player for girls soccer, Christy Owen ‘91 – and in 1991.
 
“We were excited for a coach with a lot of experience,” Smith said. “She had us constantly running. Her famous phrase was ‘always running.’”
 
During her first stint as head lacrosse coach, Cobb helped found the Washington Area Girls Lacrosse League (WAGLL), which gave independent and public schools the opportunity to compete for lacrosse banners. Under Cobb’s leadership, St. Andrew’s claimed its first WAGLL banner in 1992.
 
Lexa (Castiello) Gandolfo ‘93 played varsity soccer beginning in eighth grade and, despite being one of the youngest members of the team, Coach Walsh instantly made her “feel like a real part of the team, and by extension, an important part of the school.”

Cobb also introduced Gandolfo to lacrosse.
 
“She had an enthusiasm for the sport that infected us all. We quickly became a dominant team in our conference thanks in large part to her leadership,” Gandolfo said. “Ginger embodies all of the qualities of a coach you want to play for: knowledgeable, compassionate, driven, and always steady.”
 
Several of Cobb’s student athletes in her early years went on to play at top college programs, including previous Hall of Fame inductees Gandolfo (Soccer and Lacrosse at Princeton) and Zola Solamente ‘90 (known then as Carolyn Springer – Soccer at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).
 
“Her teams were professional and almost clinical in their ruthless marches toward countless championships. Not to mention that she was an outstanding role model for young women,” said Warren Marcus, St. Andrew’s Director of Athletics during Cobb’s first five years.
 
Cobb brought home more banners when she returned – as an assistant coach for the 1999 girls soccer team, which won the PVAC regular season and tournament championships, and as head coach of the 2000 girls lacrosse team, which won the Capital Area Lacrosse title.
 
Jen (Cantwell) Thomson ’01 played soccer and lacrosse for Coach Cobb. She said Cobb did more than just motivate her on the field – she inspired her to challenge herself off the field, too.
 
“I was thinking about going to university close to home. Then my twin brother talked about (St Andrews) Scotland,” Thomson said. “She was really supportive of that, so she inspired me to actually go for it and I’m so glad I did.
 
“I think she was just such an amazing, supportive coach to everyone. She was supportive of people who struggled with the game and she made sure everyone had a chance to play and get involved.”
 
As Director of Athletics, Cobb ensured success for all St. Andrew’s teams by leading significant facility improvements, including new grass fields, the baseball diamond, softball fields and tennis courts. The golf team was established, and the girls teams joined the Independent School League (ISL) in 2000.
 
John Holden, former Assistant Head of School, said the move to the ISL, and Cobb’s role in it, was critical to the dynamic growth of St. Andrew’s athletics.
 
“Ginger is a driven person who always wanted to do the very best and cared deeply about doing the best for those she worked for,” Holden said. “She was instrumental in establishing St. Andrew’s as one of the top schools in the Washington, D.C., area.”
 
Cobb has worn many hats in her time at St. Andrew’s, including service learning teacher, Dean of Students, Assistant Head of Upper School, and Head of Upper School. She also created and directed the school’s first Summer Programs.
 
Cobb added another title – author – after her book with Kathleen Glynn-Sparrow, “Sex, Drugs, and the S.A.T.: Getting out of High School and Getting in to College” was published in 2015.
 
Although she is retired from coaching, Cobb said she remains inspired by the accomplishments of her players and teams.
 
“It is an honor to be inducted into the St. Andrew’s Hall of Fame,” Cobb said. “Throughout my time as a coach, I was awed by the strength players demonstrated both as athletes and people. I saw grit, determination, resilience and above all else teamwork – all the right stuff. I am proud to be a part of St. Andrew’s.”
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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.