September 9, 2003

Sykes, Sullivan '99 Guide Field Hockey Team

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Interim head field hockey coach Phil Sykes should be used to the Ithaca weather. He’s already familiar with the saying, “when it rains, it pours.”

Just six weeks ago, Sykes was looking for permanent employment. Five weeks ago, he was swimming in offers, one of which was from Cornell. Friends — most notably former assistant coach Gus Reed — urged Sykes to take the post, where he and the team are now 1-1 on the season.

The first thing Sykes noticed in Ithaca was his natural surroundings.

“We checked out the town, checked out the campus, and I was just sold on how beautiful it was here,” he said.

One thing he was not sold on, however, was how the team would react.

After setting the school record for consecutive wins at six, and earning nine wins overall, returning members of the 2002 squad were poised for greatness. A coaching vacancy at Princeton had also left a question mark as to who would reign over the Ivy League. Then came the news that Sykes would be replacing head coach Michelle Tambroni, who is currently out on maternity leave.

“I worried about quite a few things,” said Sykes.

But after checking with associate Athletic Director Steve Erber, Sykes said his fears were soothed.

“He just kind of reassured me that it was my program, and I could do with it what I wanted for the interim basis,” Sykes said.

The team’s captains confirmed the notion.

“After talking with the captains, they were all very eager to have a breakout type season. Not that they didn’t have a good season last year, they were just ready to do even better,” he said.

Backing Sykes is assistant coach Beth Sullivan ’99. After moving back to Ithaca with her fianc