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Archive for June 29, 2007

June 29, 2007 — Coaches matter

The past week down at Virginia Beach was a good week, full of energy and passion. Saw a lot of friends and made new ones, plus I finally met the founders of the Washtenau Whippets HC, the only pay-to-play field hockey club in the United States playing a varsity schedule.

I also saw some trends when it comes to how the National Futures Tournament is run. One less-than-obvious trend speaks to the quality of the NFT coach.

Time was, coaches in the National Futures program were recent college graduates, dedicated club coaches, or the occasional assistant coach from a high-school team.

The last few years, however, the quality of Futures coaches has been accelerated. A couple of years ago, Marina DiGiacomo, the greatest NCAA field hockey player who ever lived, was a coach in the Futures U-14 division.

This year, All-Americans such as Katie Grant and Jessica Javelet, as well as Team USA’s Vianney Campos, coached in the Regional Rumble. At the Futures Tournament, a number of collegiate head coaches like Temple’s Amanda Janney, Rutgers’ Liz Tchou, Maryland assistant Marybeth Freeman, and Dartmouth assistant Andrew Smith were on the sidelines, mentoring their teams.

“I would urge every Division I, II, and III coach to get involved with the Futures program, because it’s giving back to the kids,” said Smith, who coached the silver-winning Boston team in the U-19 division.”You’re developing the game — and you may not reap the benefits straightaway, but the kids we’re developing now will make Stanford a better program, and by the same token, the kids Lesley Irvine is developing (in the California region) will make Boston College a better program.

“Can you imagine a 14-year-old, coming to Futures for the first time, being coached by Beth Anders, Karen Shelton, Beth Bozman, Michele Madison, Jen Averill, Missy Meharg — all of these great coaches that we have? It would be unbelievable,” Smith added. “There are so many great coaches out there that could benefit from this.”