Donna Knisley has been named the head coach of the Ohio State pistol team, Martin Jarmond, executive associate athletics director for administration, announced Monday, May 4. During her 15-year tenure as an assistant coach for the Buckeyes, Knisley helped guide the Ohio State pistol program to seven Pistol Intercollegiate National Championships, including back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015.
"Donna has done a tremendous job guiding the Ohio State pistol program to an elite level alongside Coach James Sweeney," Jarmond said. "As an assistant for the past 15 years, Donna has helped lead the Buckeyes to seven collegiate national championships. She is an individual with great character and her commitment to Ohio State and our student-athletes is unmatched.
Knisley, a retiree from the Ohio State College of Medicine, has taught rifle and pistol marksmanship in numerous clinics and camps from elementary though adult levels. In her first year of formal collegiate coaching, she was instrumental in leading Ohio State to the 2000 Pistol Intercollegiate National Championship.
Her excellence with the Buckeyes only continued, as the program again claimed the open team title in 2014 and 2015. Ohio State also earned four national championships in women's team competition, notching titles in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2009.
"After 15 wonderful years of helping to guide the Ohio State pistol team as the assistant coach, I am thrilled beyond words to be appointed to the next level as the head coach," Knisley said. "I will attempt to maintain the high standards already set, as well as provide even more opportunities for development of our student-athletes.
"I'm looking forward to working with the administration and various support services provided for our student-athlete success in the classroom and on the range," Knisley continued. "I am grateful to inherit a program that has been treated by our administration as a mainstream collegiate sport and hope to be part of the ongoing legacy of the Ohio State pistol team."
Knisley specializes in instilling solid fundamental skills in new shooters and developing effective metal attitudes for maximum performance. Also leading by example, she won the 1993 Ohio State Championship in air pistol.
"Coach K has always been there to help me gain my confidence back," Greyson McCaig, a senior member of the Ohio State pistol team, said. "Whenever I would have trouble breaking the shot, she would say, 'Trust yourself and the front sight and just shoot like you know you can.' She has always helped me remember to never let my head get in the way of my natural ability."
A graduate of Milligan College, Knisley earned her bachelor's degree in health and physical education in 1984. She is engaged to former OSU head coach James Sweeney, who retired recently after 16 years at the helm of the Buckeye program.
"Through her unwavering dedication the team, Coach K has enabled us to grow as young professionals in both academics and athletics," Elizabeth Szalajko, a sophomore memeber of the Ohio State pistol team, said. "We are all looking forward to another successful season next year."