Merkel comes to Stout from Thiel College in Greenville, Pa., where she was the head coach and the women's lacrosse program's first full-time assistant coach. Merkel led the program in all aspects, including: recruiting, scouting, scheduling, practice- and game-planning, travel accommodations, managing the team's budget, overseeing volunteer and community service projects and managing social media content.
In Merkel's year as the Thiel assistant coach, the Tomcats finished with the best single-season winning percentage in program history and earned a berth in the title game of the Presidents' Athletic Conference Championship Tournament. Five Tomcats earned All-PAC recognition in 2021, including a pair of first team honorees.
The team also excelled in the classroom and was named a 2021 Academic Honor Squad by the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association for achieving a grade-point average of at least 3.2. The team featured four individuals on the 2021 IWLCA Division III Academic Honor Roll, including a PAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year award recipient, Alex Geraci.
A native of Littleton, Colo., Merkel played her first year at NCAA Division III Augustana College of Rock Island, Ill. She was part of a team in 2015 that went 19-2 overall, won the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin title and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
Merkel went on to earn a bachelor's degree in recreation, tourism and hospitality with a minor in business administration from the University of Northern Colorado, where she was a member of the club women's lacrosse team for three years.
Merkel was an assistant coach at Johnson and Wales University in Denver, Colo., primarily working with the team's defense and goalies.
Prior to Johnson and Wales, Merkel was an operations team member for Chuze Fitness and Vasa Fitness. She was a game day operations intern for the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse and served as an assistant athletic director for South Suburban Parks and Recreation.
Lacrosse is an NCAA spring sport, and the season begins in late February, running into May with an approximately 16-game schedule. The NCAA has conducted women's lacrosse championships since 1985. Salisbury University completed an undefeated season, topping Tufts University, 15-14, to win the 2021 NCAA women's lacrosse championship in May. Gettysburg College won the two previous women's titles.
Stout's Nelson Field is an artificial surface field completed in 2020, allowing the team to play home games in late winter and spring weather. Women's lacrosse has been a UW-Stout sports club for several years.