For most Cornellians, life after college begins away from Ithaca. In most cases, graduating seniors go on to pursue employment, graduate degrees, and other endeavors that take them away from the collegiate comforts once provided here on East Hill. Blair Corcoran ’06, on the other hand, found her first “real world” experience right here on campus as the former field hockey standout was offered the chance to be an assistant to field hockey head coach Donna Hornibrook for the upcoming season.
For Corcoran, the opportunity to stay close to Cornell was one that ultimately could not be passed up.
“[After weighing my other options] I decided there might not be a better thing than this,” she said. “I may never get another chance to give back to my alma mater.”
It was this very passion for the Red that made Corcoran a two-time captain and a consummate component of the field hockey team’s turnaround during her senior season — The Red went 10-7 last year after winning just three games the year before.
“She is a natural leader,” said senior co-captain Sarah Miller, a former teammate of Corcoran’s. “She was a great player and now she is doing a really great job at coaching.”
Because of her previous role as teammate to many of the Red’s current players, Corcoran is very familiar with the dynamic of the team and provides an interesting and insightful perspective of someone who has literally been there before.
“I’m kind of a liaison between the coaches and the players,” Corcoran said. “I know when the girls have problems and I want them to feel comfortable coming to me about any of them.”
At the same time, Corcoran is well aware that her new responsibility as coach changes the way she must act towards her former teammates on the field. Hornibrook, who has witnessed the entire transformation of Corcoran going from player to coach, thinks the former midfielder has handled it very professionally.
“She is really mature and has committed 100% of herself to coaching,” Hornibrook said.
The first few weeks on the job have also been eye opening for Corcoran — she finally recognizes the dedication that it takes to coach at the highest level.
“I had no idea what it would be like, especially administratively,” Corcoran said. “I thought coaching would just be working out the plays and discussing strategy. Now I have a much bigger appreciation for what our coaches do, they really have our best interests in mind.”
Specifically, Corcoran has played a big role in recruiting, offering her insider perspective to prospective student-athletes. On the practice field, she has had a multitude of undertakings including working with the goalies, one-on-one sessions with individual players, and even participating during particular drills.
“She is really versatile,” Hornibrook said. “We can use her in a lot of different ways.”
Corcoran has also had the chance to experience Cornell in a much different way in comparison to her undergraduate years, substituting coaches meetings for classes, recruiting calls for homework, and feeling out all the other tasks that come with adapting to her new role.
“I kind of feel like I am cheating,” she said. “I don’t have to go to class and I still get to be with field hockey.”
Even though Corcoran misses the days when she could suit up for the Red and compete on the field — she claims she was a bit nostalgic during the squads first scrimmage. She is adjusting well and is finding a new outlet for her passion on the coaching side of the athletics spectrum.
“There is something to be said about trying to build a team,” she said. “It is just as exciting as playing.” Corcoran will be a big part of building up a Red squad that will look to continue the success that it began with last year’s 10-win season. While Corcoran will not be directly involved in a single on field play all season, she will undoubtedly lead from the sideline with the same vigor she displayed during her playing years.
“She is a natural,” Hornibrook said. “She has all the skills and assets that make a good coach.”