Back To Work!


Shannon SoaresI hope this finds you doing well and having a great start to your New Year. It’s been a while since I’ve last touched base with you, so I wanted to reach out and update you on our program.

We welcomed our student-athletes back for the spring on Monday, January 12, and since then, they’ve been hard at work before the sun rises, conditioning and lifting three days a week. Over the last month, there’s been an emphasis placed on proper running mechanics, footwork, change of direction and explosiveness out of the blocks. As a staff, we’ve already noticed gains in each category and have enjoyed watching our team progress. While the mornings have been quite cold, our players have done a terrific job of showing up ready to work with a positive attitude. This experience has no doubt helped to increase our mental toughness and accountability.

Last Saturday, we celebrated our 2014 season and the careers of our four seniors at our end of the season banquet. Chef Geoff’s played host to the event and many of our players’ parents were able to make the trip to be in attendance. I had the opportunity to recap our season to those present, focusing on the strides we made as a program in its first year under a new staff and in the midst of a complete culture change. While six wins on the season isn’t something I’d typically shout proudly from the rooftops, we did triple our win count from the season prior, doing so in a matter of only three months of working with our student-athletes. I presented this side-by-side comparison of the 2013 and 2014 seasons on Saturday and thought I’d share it with you as well:

As a team, we talk often about believing in the process, respecting it and appreciating it. This year, our team did a great job of taking on that philosophy, quite evident in strides we made as a program this fall. It’s important to celebrate the “small wins,” and be proud of the work we’ve put in as a group.In addition to celebrating our 2014 season, we said farewell to our wonderful seniors Molly Denzel, Brooke Simone, Elizabeth Mueller and Tori Hideshima as they were honored for their four-year commitment to the program with framed jerseys.We also took the opportunity to recognize our award-winners from the season. Junior Emily Weinberg and sophomore Aliyah Graves-Brown were both honored for being named to the BIG EAST Honor Roll in-season, while Aliyah was also recognized for being selected to Second Team All-BIG EAST.For their performance in the weight room, Devin Holmes was honored with the Iron Hoya Award for her 114% gain over the course of the year, while senior Elizabeth Mueller took home the Certified Strong Award for being the strongest pound for pound.The coaching staff also selected a few honorees for specific team awards based on not only performance, but ways in which they represent our program and uphold our core values. With this being our first year, and to some degree, still working to carry out a new culture, it was important to us as a staff that the team awards we gave out were focused on the things we deem most important: growth, development and selflessness.

With respect to growth and development, we’ve spent a lot of time this season talking about the importance of the process. As our team grows, we learn new things, we continue to work to perfect our craft, we take pride in that craft, and work to respect it and the people around you who help you do it well. On Saturday, we honored two sophomores for making significant strides over the course of the season. Congratulations to Devin Holmes and Rachel Skonecki for taking home the 2014 Most Improved Award.

We have a list of non-negotiables that we distribute to our players on the first day of preseason; things, behaviors that we as a staff feel are critical to our success – things we will not bend on and that we feel make us different than everyone else. The first item on that list is entitled “Team First… We are a FAMILY.” Pretty self-explanatory, in everything you do, on and off of the field, do what’s best for the team. I was proud to award junior Taylor Craig and senior Tori Hideshima with our 2014 Family First Award on Saturday.

Aside from individual and team awards, we ended the banquet by recognizing our team for their commitment to academic excellence. Our team earned a 3.358 GPA for the fall semester, taking the program to a 3.389 cumulative GPA overall. 20 of the 21 young women on our fall roster earned a 3.0 or higher, five student-athletes were named to the Dean’s List and three were named to either First or Second Honors. We’re very proud of their hard work as they continue to work towards having the highest GPA in the athletic department.

In terms of what lies next for our group, we will begin our three-week indoor season at Catholic University on Monday, where we will train three times a week at an indoor facility with boards and cages.  As a staff, we believe spending a few weeks playing the game of indoor hockey will allow us to improve upon our first touch, hand speed, vision on the ball and small game tactics. We are excited to experience a change of pace and compete again.

In addition to lifting, fitness and indoor, our players will start team dynamic sessions with Dr. Michael Lorenzen, our Assistant Athletic Director for Student Athlete Leadership and Development. Dr. Mike has put a great deal of time into shaping a curriculum for our student-athletes that will focus on the elements of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results within our team. While I believe we are strong in many of those categories, this will allow us to gain a bit more perspective on some of the areas where we may be weaker.

Once indoor season concludes and our student-athletes return from spring break, we will begin training five days a week on MSF in preparation for our four spring competition dates this season. We look forward to continuing to make strides and progress as a team. For those of you who may be interested in coming to support us in our spring season, I’ve included the dates below:

3.21.15 @ LaSalle vs. LaSalle, Villanova, Rider & Towson (Start time TBA)
3.28.15 @ Longwood (1:00 p.m. start time)
4.19.15 @ Towson (10:00 a.m. start time)
4.26.15 vs. Alumni on MSF (1:00 p.m. start time – tailgate to follow match)
We thank you for your continued support of our program and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Stay warm!

Hoya Saxa,

Shannon Soares
Head Coach, Field Hockey

Shannon Soares

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