By Pat Mariboe
Senior Sports Writer
The Washington College field hockey team will have a new face as the head coaching department, as the school announced in January that Annie Kietzman would be taking over for long time coachRachel Boyle.
Boyle, who in November announced that she would be stepping down from the program, finished her illustrious 17 year journey with a 113-131 overall record, reaching the Centennial Conference Tournament six times. Boyle’s legacy certainly leaves big shoes to fill for newcomer Kietzman, but she is already up for the challenge and ready to hit the field with her new team in their non-traditional spring season.
“I’m really looking forward to starting spring practices,” said Kietzman. “There are only 15 practices and one scrimmage day, so it’s not a lot of time but we will be setting the tone for not just this upcoming fall, but the future of the program. This time will also allow me to get a handle on where our strengths and weaknesses are. I love doing film sessions so we will certainly be doing those to get the team accustomed to the system that I use, analyze our performance together, and increase our field hockey IQs. We will also spend more time on tactics than you would in a typical spring season, the focus is often on skill development, so that we have a core group of athletes that are comfortable with the corners, press, etc., when we return in the fall and have the full team back together.”
Kietzman, who played and coached at Centennial Conference rivals Dickinson, left her most recent position as head coach for Division II side Newberry, in which she led the team to their best season in history. Kietzman hopes her experience in both the playing and coaching aspect of the sport can help strengthen her new team.
“I’ve been really lucky to be involved with some great programs and work with some incredible coaches that were very invested in my development,” she said. “I’ve learned that there’s no one path to success but it does take a kind of ‘aggressive patience’ and it can be a hard balance to strike.”
In terms of why she decided to take on this position at Washington College, Kietzman praised the community and comradery that the school has to offer.
“The WAC program had a really strong foundation so I’m excited to be able to build on that,” she said. “Rachel Boyle has done such a great job mentoring these student athletes, you can tell when you speak to them how motivated and passionate they are about the program and that’s really a testament to the great leadership the program had under Coach Boyle for the past several seasons. But I also expect there to be growing pains; any time a new coach comes in there is a period of adjustment. It just takes time to get to know each other and that can be a little difficult–going from a coach who has maybe known you since you were a sophomore or junior in high school to someone you’ve never met.”
The Shorewomen finished last season with a 6-11 overall record, missing the CC playoffs with a 3-7 Conference record. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2014 season, but Kietzman has already seen what the team has to offer and is looking forward to a strong first season as head coach.
“The athletes really care about each other and have remarked often how they feel like family so I’m excited to be a part of that.”