Indian River’s new head field hockey coach, Colleen Groszner, couldn’t be happier. The fifth-year coach landed at the school after a four-year stint Severn School in Anne Arundel County, Md., and despite not having a whole lot of time to get to know her players, she is quite confident in her new team.
And why not? Indian River returns seven starters from last year’s 10-5-1 team, and Groszer knows that their experience can and will take them beyond a first-round state tournament appearance.
“I fell into such a great situation here (at Indian River),” Groszer said. “We have extremely talented players and they’ve definitely worked hard this past week. We’ve practiced every day at 6:30 in the morning ’til 10 a.m., so it’s been tough.”
Groszer credited a core group of seniors — three of whom are captains — for their efforts so far this season.
“We really have a great group of seniors,” Groszer boasted. “I’m so confident in these girls that I think — no, I know — that we’re going to improve on last year’s season.”
Senior captains Sara Benner, Courtney Cooke and Shawnee Seitz will man the left-wing, center defender and right midfielder positions, alongside midfielder Molly Chamberlin and defender Marlena Schleifer.
The Lady Indians graduated four key starters, including forward Ali Ambrose, midfielders Kayla Warrington and Ellen Dupont, and goal keeper Kathryn Riley. But Groszer has faith in the some of their greener talent.
Junior goalkeeper Abi Buchler saw limited action last year and sat patiently behind Riley. But this is her year.
“I don’t know how good the goalie from last year’s team was but I can see that Abi will definitely fill some good shoes,” Groszer said.
“She communicates very well with her defense and she’ll have to work on some basic goalie stuff, like watching the corners on fast breaks. But, overall, she has done very well,” she continued.
Groszer also mentioned that she would probably keep at least four sophomores on the varsity team this year. Usually, she’d prefer to keep the younger players on the junior-varsity team, but a coach can’t deny talent.
“[Underclassmen] generally aren’t able to compete at the varsity level,” Groszer said, speaking of her past coaching experience. “But field hockey is really growing in this area. A large number of the girls take the sport very seriously.”
Groszer played the sport herself throughout high school and college, and her club team won the East Coast Championships in 2001 while she was in her senior year at Salisbury University. She also graduated with a sociology major, so Groszer is comfortable in her new position and with people.
She doesn’t hail from the Vince Lombardi school of coaching that likes to yell like a drill sergeant or intimidate her players but instead chooses to shoot words of encouragement to her players — or if she pulls them out of the game, pulls them aside to tell them what they’ve done wrong.
“Bottom line, I want the girls to relax and have fun,” Groszer said. “I’ve played a long time and I always appreciated when a coach told me what I did right or wrong.”
She won’t yell at or bench a player for an improper technique. Instead, she asserts that respect goes a lot further.
“What it all boils down to is respect,” Groszer said. “It’s give and take. If you don’t respect them, then you won’t get it. I’ll have to earn their trust and respect. And after that, it all works.”
“I’ve always done well coaching that way,” she noted.
The Lady Indians have concluded their pre-season scrimmages and now have a little over a week to prepare for their regular-season home opener against Tatnall, on Sept. 9.