Field hockey coach excited to host big ten teams

Doug Gulasy

The Kent State field hockey program has, in the words of coach Kathleen Schanne, a “rich tradition,” with eight regular season Mid-American Conference championships in its history and five straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 1998-2002.

Last year’s team had its share of ups, but had more than twice as many downs, as the Flashes finished with a 7-15 record, bowing out in the MAC Tournament semifinals.

“I would just say the biggest thing (to improve upon) would just be consistency,” Schanne said. “I think that we have improved our overall athleticism and physical fitness in the spring, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they improved on that over the summer.”

Schanne also has the benefit of a full year as coach, as last season was her first at the helm of the Kent State program. The experience should help her and the rest of the staff, assistant coach Richard Sutton and graduate assistant Katy Tran.

“We had a lot of good experience getting to know (the players) and building with them in the spring for this next year,” Schanne said. “I think that was really one of the best things that, as a staff, we took from our first year with the team.”

The 2007 team has to deal with a tricky schedule. Ten of the Flashes’ first 11 games are on the road, including the first four. Also, four Big Ten Conference teams are on the schedule, including two at home.

Schanne however professed herself to be “really, really happy” with the schedule.

“I think our four games that we start out on the road (against Bucknell, Delaware, Lock Haven and Pennsylvania) are games that are all winnable games,” Schanne said. “So we could have a chance going into playing Ohio State being 4-0, and I think that would be a huge confidence builder for us.”

Schanne is also excited to host two Big Ten teams, Ohio State and the 2002 National champions, Michigan.

The Flashes’ coach said she expects her seniors, including captains Charlotte Muller and Caitlin MacKenzie, as well as Kara Copeland, Libby Lame and Anna McComb, to provide leadership for the rest of the team.

“I think (the seniors) are really ready to positively influence this group and really have a good year,” Schanne said.

Despite its struggles last year, Schanne said the team “competed pretty tough” in the MAC and hopes to do the same this season.

If what Schanne called a “core group of returnees” as well as a “really great class” of nine incoming freshman finish highly in the MAC this year, it will show that the tradition of the Kent State field hockey program is not over.

“I think we’re well on our way,” Schanne said. “We’ve recruited some really good athletes that are highly skilled that want to work hard and, really, they’re just excited to be a part of this new tradition that we’re creating as a staff.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].