Coach to leave behind lasting legacy

Brock Harrington

Kent State will be hard-pressed to find a coach like Kerry DeVries to lead the field hockey program after this season.

After eight years, more than a hundred victories, five NCAA tournament appearances, four regular season Mid-American Conference Championships and four MAC Championships, DeVries’ ninth season will be her last at Kent State.

Unlike other coaches who take their family through years of jumping from program-to-program to reach a place they feel comfortable with, DeVries decided on the best interest of her family. DeVries is sacrificing her career at Kent State for her husband’s career.

But DeVries isn’t leaving behind a team and a school – she is leaving behind a legacy.

DeVries started out at Kent State after the Flashes’ last place finish in the MAC in the 1996 season after having an assistant coaching position at Wake Forest.

“The program needed a total makeover,” DeVries said. “They were unsuccessful and had no idea why they played field hockey. I had to re-teach the players that field hockey is an amazing sport, and competing is fun.”

That spring, DeVries put her efforts into team building and was able to refocus the Flashes. In her first season, the Flashes went 14-8 and went from last to second in the MAC.

The 1998 season marked her first year leading the Flashes to the MAC Championship. In 1999, she was named MAC Coach of the Year. She would win again the very next year.

But her most memorable season was 2002. That year, the Flashes won 16 games and went to the NCAA tournament. The Flashes received their highest ranking that year by finishing at the number seven spot in the country, which established them as a true national power.

“We proved to the nation that KSU field hockey is extremely good, and the girls are determined to be the best,” DeVries said.

In 2003, DeVries became the most successful field hockey coach in Kent State history. That same year, she was named MAC Coach of the Year for the third time.

“People will be optimistic if the program is successful,” DeVries said. “Kent State needs winners and wants winners.”

Assistant coach Helen Knull, a former All-American field hockey player under DeVries, said that she learned the coaching basics from DeVries.

“She listens to problems and knows that every kid is different,” Knull said. “The field hockey team is more than just a team, it’s a family, and coach DeVries has made it like that.”

Contact sports correspondent Brock Harrington at [email protected].