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Archive for September 13, 2021

Sept. 13, 2021 — The “buy-in”

The art of coaching is predicated upon guiding a group of people to a certain goal or accomplishment. It is often the same in business, as the best managers and executives are graded on how well they can get their employees to do their assigned tasks, or to “buy in” to an ideal.

One of the most remarkable coaching jobs in the world of field hockey has been occurring over the last five years in a village of 1,600 which sits on the Delaware-Maryland border. The name of the school even shares the names of the two states: Delmar.

Jodi Hollamon has always been expected to do great things, no matter where she coached. Her aunt was the legendary Pocomoke (Md.) coach, Susan Pusey. She played her hockey at the University of Delaware under head coach Carol Miller, then won a state championship with Salisbury Parkside (Md.).

But at Delmar, she has created the most unexpected powerhouse in the sport. The school has an enrollment of only about 650, but beginning in 2016, the Delmar field hockey team has found a rich seam of form, playing an international style of field hockey, letting the ball do the work, and winning five straight DIAA championships.

The core of the team, especially in the last few years, has surrounded Hollamon’s daugters, Josie and Jordyn, and her nieces, Maci and Morgan Bradford.

But it’s not all about these four cousins. Hollamon has gotten other players on the roster to buy into the system, expand their horizons, and contribute to the overall effort.

“The buy-in is trusting your teammates,” she says. “We’ve been having success with players who had a little bit of experience last year that have really, really stepped up this preseason.”

Lilly Waters is one such player. The junior midfielder had a number of assists in Delmar’s 10-0 opening-game win on Friday evening against Olney Good Counsel (Md.).

“I feel like it is a family,” Waters said. “We connect together, and we really make some good passes.”

Indeed, the ball seems to find Delmar teammates in open spaces with lanes to goal because of the vision of the players. The one-touch hockey often creates chances which are more memorable than actual goals, although the ball was finding net much more often last Friday.

“The level of hockey is always high and we’re expected to play a certain way,” says fullback Ella Shockley. “We hold everyone accountable to be at the top, and we always expect to be there.”

Shockley is a good example, having scored a number of important goals for Delmar in her career, including both goals as Delmar beat Lewes Cape Henlopen (Del.) in a regular-season match last November.

“When I’m playing, it’s exciting to just be able to take a shot,” she says. “The goal is to be able to get into a good college as well as to be one of the best players there.”

Indeed, Delmar players have appeared on the rosters of teams such as Duke and Syracuse, as well as Delaware, where Morgan Bradford, one of Hollamon’s nieces, is now a first-year player.

Delmar is also sending players into the U.S. junior national system, and it remains to be seen how well these players do there.