DeVries to be missed for coaching skill, personality

Matt Gottfried

One year after Kent State coach Kerry DeVries’ first season as the Kent State field hockey coach, she took a 4-17 team and turned them into a 14-8 conference runner-up. Three years later she completed the third of three-straight 17-plus win seasons, the last of which featured a 19-4 overall record and a perfect 10-0 record in the MAC.

When DeVries heads to Europe with her family following this season, she won’t just be leaving behind 17 talented girls; she’ll also be leaving behind a legacy as the coach who single-handedly turned Kent State field hockey into a nationally recognized powerhouse.

DeVries, who is in her ninth and final season as the Kent State field hockey coach, has put together a school record of 118 wins to 56 losses. Her resume includes four conference titles, four MAC tournament championships and five NCAA tournament appearances. Yet despite all the credentials earned during her stint at Kent State, it’s the person inside that the team feels they will miss the most next season.

“I think above all else, I’m going to miss her personality,” junior Liz Fettrow said. “I think she has the comfortable mix of having fun and being serious. She has fun with us as players, but knows when to draw the line as a coach. We are really going to miss her.”

Throughout her numerous accomplishments achieved at Kent State, one game has stuck out more then any other for DeVries. In 1999, the Flashes found themselves down by four points with fewer than 13 minutes to go against Ball State in the MAC tournament finals. The Flashes went on to shoot off five unanswered goals to clinch the MAC championship, propelling them into the NCAA tournament. During those final minutes of the game, five freshmen were on the field to combine for each of those comeback-attributing goals.

Assistant coach Helen Knull, who was one of the freshmen on that 1999 squad, credits the turn-around in the program to DeVries’ ability to establish a family atmosphere within the team.

“I’ve been through both sides of the fence with her, both playing under her and coaching next to her,” Knull said. “She’s definitely the kind of coach who cares about the overall experience. She has kind of developed this family within a family concept here, making it about the experiences off the field just as much as on it. That’s the kind of thing she fosters here, and I think it’s what has made her so successful.”

Even with the struggles encountered during this season, DeVries’ mark on the Kent State program will not be overshadowed by the 0-11 start. Her long history of success with the Flashes won’t be forgotten either, something she began to realize as the community reached out to her during these times of struggles.

“This is truly a program, it is not a team-to-team, year-to-year situation,” DeVries said. “No one ever leaves the program. Everyone who is a part of this program will always be a part of it. We don’t just talk tradition here at Kent; we believe it. It’s been amazing with all the e-mails and phone calls I’ve received from former alumni just telling us to hang in there and keep our heads up. It’s been awesome.”

Contact field hockey reporter Matt Gottfried at [email protected].