By Darren Lum
Published Sept. 27 2016
When it comes to the Red Hawks field hockey team their trip to the Central Ontario Secondary School Athletics final has been a perennial certainty.
This year won’t be any different promises coach Steve Smith who insisted the team will win that final and advance to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships.
“The expectation is always the same. We qualify. We go” he said.
Coming back after a two-year hiatus he really loves to see the energy and the potential of the new team. Smith smiled and spoke animatedly about the team he is co-coaching with Jessica Lloyd.
“The girls are great. They’re getting better. They’re not where they need to be but they’re getting there” he said loudly letting the players hear what he was saying.
With three rookies Smith repeated his mantra a well-known saying to lighten the mood for the team.
“There’s no crying in field hockey. If you’re going to … go to the end of the field. Have your boo hoo and then come back before you infect the team” he said.
With only 18 players the team has concentrated its team and will be only fielding a varsity A team in the Kawartha High School Field Hockey League dropping the Varsity B team that played developmental teams.
This won’t affect how the team is coached Smith said but could have implications on future teams.
Although he believes the summer field hockey offering helps with promotion he wants the current players to encourage other girls to join.
Lloyd and Smith both believe the popularity of rugby has pulled a few players who would have played field hockey. He adds the lower enrolment also factored. The school is below 500 students.
Co-coach Lloyd welcomes Smith’s return to the program and how it helps to divide the coaching duties.
“He’s the drill master. I let him run that show” she said laughing about how she can concentrate more on the paperwork. She believes while he works with the team on drills she can take a step back and see the big picture.
“I can watch and then give the girls feedback when needed to tweak things. It works well that well” she said.
Before the four game league regular season which starts against Crestwood on Sept. 29 the team will play in two tournaments one in Ottawa this past weekend and another in Peterborough this week. These tournaments will be beneficial to the coaches and the development of the players. It also provides coaches an opportunity to gauge the team’s competitiveness fitness and skills now that the team lost nine players from last year’s varsity A team.
Smith said one difference from when he was coaching was the long corners have been moved from the far corners to the 25-yard line as a result of a rule change. He likes it for the offence by how it allows the play to be spread across the field instead of constricted in the corner.
Another difference is the new turf fields used for games. To prepare Smith and Lloyd will have their team practice in the gym the day before the game at Sir Sandford Fleming College fields.
As far as how this team will play Lloyd isn’t sure how to characterize this group’s play yet except that they have “meshed” well both on and off the field.
She acknowledged this team is quieter than other years but doesn’t take away how they execute on the field.
“We lost our vocal players” she said laughing. “I would definitely say this is a quieter bunch.”
Besides the three rookies the rest of the team is battle tested whether with the Varsity A squad or the Varsity B squad who won the Kawartha Championship – the highest level for Varsity B.
She pointed out the B team was led by leading scorer Claire Karaguesian and on defence by back fielders Emily Klose with Alisha Villamere.
The seven returning A players are Kenndal Marsden Emma Scheffee Rebecca Hamilton Ali Paul Kendra Anderson Jamie Little and Abby Gordon.
Hawks alumnus Grace Diezel has returned to help coach up to three times a week particularly with the newest players.
The goaltending duties will be shared this season by Sonya Flatman who was the varsity B netminder and then asked to play for the A team in OFSAA when regular goalie Sydney Cameron was not able to play and Grade 12 student Gillian King. King who is new to the school has previous goaltending
“They all have great experience. It will comes down to seeing them in action” Lloyd said.
The team’s first home game is on Oct. 4 at 2:30 p.m. against Holy Cross. All games are subject to change.