By Rachel Waymack
The varsity field hockey players who returned for practice this summer expecting to see coaches Roy York and Buddy Smith were in for a big surprise. Instead of York and Smith, the girls were greeted by the two new coaches, Ann Lewis and Beth Russell.

Though Lewis and Russell are new faces to the players, they are not new to coaching or to each other. They coached JV field hockey together from 2002 to 2004. After 2004 Russell had to stop coaching due to her job commitment, but Lewis continued coaching until 2007. When the two learned of the open coaching positions they both applied immediately.

“When Coach Smith retired, the opportunity arose and I jumped on it,” Russell said. “I love the game, but I never got to play in school because it was not offered then, so I was thrilled.”

Both Lewis’ and Russell’s excitement for the opportunity to coach again shows their love of the game and that they are both a good fit for the team.

“I wanted to come back because I enjoy the sport, the adrenaline, and I missed the girls,” Lewis said.

The players returning from last year quickly noticed differences between the new and former coaches resulting from their different genders.

“Having female coaches makes the relationship more personal,” junior stopper Hannah Taylor said.

While the new coaches’ gender is the most obvious change, returning players assert that it is definitely not the only difference.

“We run a whole lot more; we do sprints one day and distance the next,” senior center-mid Kaitlyn Johnson said, “the approach is different; it is a lot more intense.”

Lewis and Russell believe this increase in training is necessary. Not only have they upped the amount of running the players do during practice, they have also really focused on improving the stick skills of the players. Out of all of the added training, increasing the players’ level of fitness is Lewis and Russell’s main objective.

“We believe that our conditioning is our number one priority in order to get our girls in shape,” Russell said.

The intensified training was a little hard for the players to adjust to, but they believe that it is worth the extra effort during practice.

“I like that we run a lot to keep us in shape so we are not dying in the games,” sophomore mid-fielder Lindsay Varga said.

Two new coaches and a different practice regiment were not the only two changes returning players faced; they also lost a large part of their team from last year. Due to fourteen girls from last year’s team graduating, the team this year is composed largely of new players. Learning to play with the new teammates proved to be difficult for some of the returning players.

The burden of a new team did not fall only on the players but also on the new coaches.

“Our goal is to take a brand new team and really try to rebuild the program since we lost so many seniors last year,” Russell said.

Despite the fact that fourteen players from last year graduated, both the coaches and the team have high hopes for this year.

“I expect them to be contenders for the [central district] title,” Lewis said, “My hope is to win districts.”

This belief in the players stems from the coaches’ recognition of the players’ hard work, talent, and ability to work together.

“I think the girls are super,” Lewis said, “when they are on the field they play as a team.”

The good relations and sentiments are mutual; the players have taken in the new coaches easily. This is undoubtedly due to Lewis and Russell’s determination, coaching skills, and willingness to personally communicate with the players.

“My favorite part of the new coaches is that they do not just coach, they get involved,” junior forward Cara Lucy said. “They practice, they come to Swaders with us, and ultimately help bring the team together as a family.”

13 COMMENTS

  1. I think this article did a really good job of showing how the team is different this year. I like how Rachel focused on the family aspect because we have truly grown to be a family. We yell at each other and fight, but we also love each other and work extremely well together. The coaches really pulled us together…Last year we have 14 seniors and ended up second in the districts then lost in the first round of districts. This year we have mainlky sophomores and we are headed to regionals.

  2. I like how this article doesn’t just focus on the field hockey aspect in such as the strategies and rules of the game, or just have quotes from some of the players on the team. It delves deeper into the coaches and how they are new to the team as well as the team having to find a new groove after losing 14 seniors last year.

  3. I really liked this article, mainly because it really gave people an idea of how hard it was to adjust this year, not only to the new coaches but also the new players after losing so many seniors last year. I feel like this year the team is much closer than years before thanks to the support of our new coaches pulling us together. Rachel did an awesome job in conveying this to others.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this article! It really showed how far our team has come this year and how much we’ve grown as a “family” too. It doesn’t just focus on boring rules of the game.

  5. Like Olivia said, I really like how this article doesn’t just focus on the game of field hockey itself, but more on the team and the bond that they have. I believe it’s always good to have a close-knit team and to have a good relationship with the coach. I also like how it described how the team is getting better through more intense conditioning.

  6. It is good that the new coaches, new players, and old players are all on good terms with each other; this, along with the increased intensity of the drills, are sure to make this a great year for the hockey team.

  7. It’s awesome that the new coaches are so involved and passionate about the team. When there’s a good relationship, people don’t have to worry about stupid drama, and they can just focus on becomming better players. I hope that districts will be a cinch!

  8. I can definately relate to this story because last year my soccer team had experienced something similar except for i was one of the new faces. Their were 10 new people and it was a bumpy start trying to pull the team together but it all worked out in the end and i think that was because we were together everyday working hard to get better and our coach would push us to interact. Its definately a challenge but its well worth the work on the field and in the halls when all is said and done.

  9. This might be a good change for the Varsity Field Hockey team, especially since they are female coaches which can help develop closer bonds. New training and practice methods can help the team prepare for more things.

  10. GOing from being second in districts, going to districts, and then losing in the first round with fourteen seniors to making it to regionals with a whole new team is a remarkable change. About a week ago on saturday, I witnessed a field hockey game at whatever park I was reffing that day. I was intrigued as to how they would hit the ball with the sticks. I never realized how difficult the sport was. It also seems extremely exhausting. I have new found respect for the field hockey team.

  11. I love the fact that the team is a “family”. That is a key aspect to being successful in any team sport. Many people focus on the individual, but one person can not make a team. New faces are always great as well, pumping new techniques, new personalities, and new ideas to the “family”.

  12. The article grasps the true meaning of a team. A team stays together through the ups and the downs always growing. When they lost fourteen seniors last year many lost hope and interest as the team. The field hockey story at PG is a good example of nothing is impossible with a team effort.

  13. I think it is great that the field hockey team has become a “family.” From what I hear, it sounds like the new coaches are doing a good job of bringing the girls together and taking the training up to the next level.

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