Feb. 18, 2023 — A problem, identified

Three days ago, I noted that the retirement of just five NCAA Division I and II coaches would enervate the coaching knowledge overall in the collegiate realm by nearly 3,000 victories.

Yesterday, former U.S. international Rachel Dawson brought the receipts, outlining the fact that 16 NCAA Division I field hockey coaches have left the sideline since November 2021.

But there’s more besides those college coaches. In the schools, a legion of long-time coaches have left the game in recent years:

June 2019: Kathleen “Cookie” Bromage, Enfield (Conn.)
Jan. 2020: Danyle Heilig, Haddon Heights and Voorhees Eastern (N.J.)
May 2020: Diane Chapman, Garden City (N.Y.)
Nov. 2020: Claudia McCarthy, Millville (N.J.)
Feb. 2021: Matt Soto, Millersville Penn Manor (Pa.)
Nov. 2021: Laurie Berger, San Diego Serra/Canyon Hills (Calif.)
Nov. 2021: Anne Horton, Gahanna Columbus Academy (Ohio)
Mar. 2022: Bob Derr, Lititz Warwick (Pa.)
June 2022: Karen Doxey, Richmond Collegiate (Va.)
Nov. 2022: Karen Klassner, Kingston Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)

Add up the coaching wins. You might need a calculator. From the numbers I have, these 10 coaches, all of whom have left the game in the last four years, were responsible for 6,153 victories. That is an extraordinary total.

In any field of endeavor, as my friend Jim Davis posited in his Second Law of Field Hockey, “There is no substitute for experience.” And that doesn’t just indicate that senior-laden teams will play better and go further in the state tournament than teams which have mostly underclasswomen.

Coaches matter.

And it says here that there’s a problem if a sport is unable to stem the departure of coaches representing 10,000 victories.

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