by Mia Millstein '19
Coach Jane DeGrenier is the NCS Varsity Field Hockey Coach.
Why did you decide to coach?
I have always loved sports. I enjoy playing and watching sports. I grew up in Central New York just outside of Syracuse, so I was an avid Yankees and Syracuse Orange fan. I played three sports in high school and two in college. It was so important for me. It helped me to make lifelong friends, improved my self-confidence, and carried over into successful academics. It helped me with college admission and I earned scholarships for college and graduate school through my ties to sports. I wanted to give that opportunity and feeling to kids. When I see a player have a light bulb moment and I see them becoming passionate about the sport I love so much, it is an amazing moment. I really wanted to share that with kids--the love of something that is important to them, the satisfaction of working with a group of people toward a common goal, that sort of thing. In my opinion, when everything is working, there is no better feeling!
Did you play field hockey in college?
I played field hockey and lacrosse in college. After playing field hockey, volleyball, and softball in high school, I wanted to pursue field hockey at a high level. I also always loved lacrosse, but we did not have a program at my high school. I picked up lacrosse my freshman year in college. I loved it from the moment I started playing! We were fortunate to have a lot of success while I was at Ithaca College. At the time, Ithaca was a powerhouse in women’s athletics. In field hockey we were always ranked nationally. We won the 1982 National Championship (now you can figure out how old I am!) and I played in three Final Fours. In lacrosse, we were also nationally ranked and I think I played in three Final Fours as well. I was All-State in both field hockey and lacrosse. I am also a member of the Ithaca College Hall of Fame.
I continued playing competitive field hockey into my mid-forties and had a very successful club career as an adult player.
What is one of your funniest and favorite coaching moments?
There are so many! I am happiest when I am on the field with my teams! I love our Halloween tradition of trying to find a new way to scare the players with the scary STA baby that they put in the refectory every Halloween. I love spending time with Coach Woods and reminiscing about the 1980’s and our glory days. I love getting to know the players and learning about them off the field. I love how we create new traditions each year, the practice bracelet, our team motto, the ball hopper, Homecoming, Senior Day. I hope that among each of my player's best memories during their time at NCS, that their sports memories top the list!
What do you think your coaching philosophy is?
My philosophy that you can educate of and through the physical. Essentially, you want to teach the X’s and O’s to your players. You want them to know the game tactically and technically. But, there are also many life lessons available if one is open to learning them. There is such value in working with a group of people. It really prepares you for life!
What is one of your proudest moments as a coach?
I would say I am very proud of our victory over the Saints this year. It has been the one team in the ISL that I have not defeated as a coach. It’s nice to have that for sure.
On a larger scale, I am also incredibly proud of all the NCS athletes I have had the opportunity to coach. I really appreciate all the milestones, such as Homecoming, Senior Day, Flag Day, Graduation, etc. I would like to think that if I have had a small part in getting my girls to graduation, then I have been successful as a teacher and coach. I am so proud of seeing our athletes successfully navigate college athletics, internships, getting a job, the real world, so to speak!
How do you prepare for each game?
I have a commute, so I am always thinking about the team while I am driving. I think about previous games, what strategy might work against each team we play, drills we need to do, areas of focus, etc. I always look at the previous year’s score book to note strong players and what happened last year. I also look at our opponent’s websites to compare results of common opponents. I talk to my athletes because they are familiar with players from other teams. Finally, I bring all the information together and talk with my amazing assistant coaches I run ideas past them and get their input. I definitely value the input of my players and assistant coaches.
On game day, I try to keep busy because, even after all these years, I get butterflies! HAHA! I teach full-time and coach/run a club team outside of school, so I am pretty busy.
What was the highlight of this season?
This team has been amazing--the dream team. I would say that our defeat over the Saints during the ISL Championships is the highlight so far. I am hoping for another highlight today (Sunday.) I was so proud of this team the entire season and throughout that game. They played with heart and intelligence. They bought into the game plan and executed it to perfection. They are so smart, dedicated, fun and funny. I just love this team.
Why do you think this year’s team is so special?
I think this team is special because they were so dedicated to the mission. There are always ups and downs during a season, and as a coach, you hope that your players rebound and learn from the downs. This team has definitely done that. They play for each other-they are selfless. They are friends and truly care about one another. They truly believe and they are fully committed to finishing the job!
If you could go back in time and give advice to your future self, what would it be?
This is a tough one! I guess I would say continue to enjoy the ride, try not to get too upset about the lows, you will bounce back. Do the right things for the right reasons and you’ll see, hang in there, you will get that Championship.