TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

BULLETIN: Dec. 22, 2016 — A stalwart coach steps aside

Lee Tolliver, the dean of American field hockey reporters, reports this morning that Julie Swain, who steered Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox (Va.) to the TopOfTheCountry trophy in 2009 as well as this year’s state championship, is stepping down.

Swain is one of those coaches who learned from the very best and was able to get her teams to create their own positive legacies, year after year. She learned as an assistant to the legendary Nancy Fowlkes in the early 1990s as the Falcons built a championship winning streak that lasted seven seasons.

But there was something else about the way Swain was able to build her own teams. She was very much the model of a positive coach, one who did not use bombast on the sidelines or in the media, and always played the “long game” when it came to the way the season ran.

Earlier this season, Cox made the journey to Chantilly Westfield (Va.). Playing below the flight path of Dulles Airport with the occasional million-dollar aircraft soaring overhead, the Falcons fell three goals adrift in a shade under 23 minutes.

Swain knew this was a teachable moment. She called a timeout, told the players what they needed to do, then they adjusted, scoring less than a minute later.

Though the Falcons lost 4-2 on the day, I saw a patient and relaxed Swain after the match, and she did not seem discouraged one iota. She knew that the defeat might have been the best thing to happen to the team heading into the heart of their schedule.

Cox would actually lose three more games in the 2016 season, but they won when it counted most, defeating backyard rival Virginia Beach First Colonial (Va.) for the VHSL Class 6A title.

Over the course of three decades, Swain was part of more than half of Cox’s 19 state championships. Her championship attitude and positive spirit will be hard to replace.

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