NEW YORK — It was a feeling that was hard to put in words. Flashback to 2012 - Katie DeSandis '13CC was taking off her sneakers for the last time as a member of the Columbia field hockey team. But she knew then that she’d be back.

“I just had this feeling that I wasn’t done yet,” DeSandis recalls. “I just knew I wasn’t done with this team, on this field or with this school and low and behold, here I am again. It’s kind of crazy how things come back like that.”

She was right. DeSandis, who was a three-time All-Ivy League performer for the Lions from 2009-12, was hired as an assistant coach in April.

“Katie is a very good student of the game,” head coach Caroline Nelson-Nichols said. “She is very eager to learn the game and figure out how we can continue to push this program forward. That kind of energy is unmatched."

It also helps to have a former Columbia student athlete on the staff, as she was literally in the players’ shoes just five short years ago.

“Katie went through it and was successful as a student-athlete. She can help us better relate to our students and better understand them,” Nelson-Nichols said.

DeSandis is excited to be that crucial link between the coaches and student-athletes.

“I’ve been through it. I think just having someone that the team can come to is going to be huge. They just need a calming breath to realize they can do it,” she said.

Columbia field hockey begins its 2017-18 campaign on Sep. 1 at Virginia. DeSandis, who rarely got off the field during her playing career at Columbia, is thrilled to have a spot on the sideline as she begins her next chapter as a Lion.

“It’s a dream come true,” DeSandis said with a huge smile. “I’ve been wanting this for so long and all the ducks lined up in a row and it ended up happening. It just feels right.”