The Indian River High School varsity field hockey team has plenty of room for improvement this season, after wrapping up a less-than-desirable 1-11-3 season last year, but with experienced and well-versed coaching at the helm this fall and a go-get-’em attitude on the field, the Lady Indians may be poised to turn things around as the season starts up this week.
First-year head coach Katie Holloway has more than 15 years of experience with the sport, primarily in the backfield and in goal. Accompanying her on the field is assistant coach Whitney McMillon, whose skills as a mid- and front-line athlete have helped her develop over the years.
“I started playing in third grade,” said McMillon, “In middle and high school, I started moving into the front line.”
Hurricane Irene denied Holloway and McMillon a scrimmage play day at Polytech, but they were able to see the team perform in a preseason bout against Stephen Decatur last week, prior to the fall schedule’s start.
“We did really well as far as our movement,” said McMillon. “The girls worked on position a little bit, but what we noticed more was that they played well as a team. They’re starting to know where everybody is in the field.”
With a rough past few years in the rear-view, moving on was one of the focuses in the weeks leading up to this fall’s schedule.
“The older girls on the team who have been around the past few years want to get over that memory and mentality they had last season,” said Holloway. “They are very anxious to turn it around and come out ready to play. I think a lot of these girls will come into their own, especially once we play a few games that count. They look really good at the scrimmages, but when games that matter are on the line, I think you’re really going to see them play well as a team.”
The season starts off with plenty of challenges, too, as the Lady Indians open up this Tuesday, Sept. 13, at Sussex Central. On Thursday, they will head to Smyrna, then upstate to Red Lion Christian Academy by the following week.
Although playing the first three games of a season on the road is never a coach’s preference, Holloway said she thinks her team will not be too deterred by the unfamiliar atmosphere.
“Of course the other team will have their crowds cheering for them,” she said, “but we’ve been telling them to just play their hearts out, dominate the game and score. We want them to ignore any noise coming from the other fans. Let [the coaches] handle that pressure and tune everything out.”
In practices leading up to their season debut, the team has been concentrating on the fundamental aspects of the game.
“We’re really just going back to the basics,” said McMillon. “We’re looking at positioning, passing, shooting, corners – all the basics of the game. We are also stressing the importance of communication on the field, too.”
It won’t be until Wednesday, Sept. 21, that the Lady Indians will get their first home game of the year, but, until then, Holloway is taking things one day at a time.
“These girls are putting last year behind them,” she said. “They want to win. They’ve stood up and said they aren’t going to stand for these losing records. They’re tired of it, and we’re going to be ready.”