With the debut of a new coaching staff and seven talented freshmen, Cornell field hockey is hungry to put a losing 2018 season in the rearview and feast on victory.
The new head coach, Andy Smith, has laid out a clear mission for the program: “It is time for us to leave a mark — to write our own legacy.”
Last year, the team concluded the season with a 5-12 overall record, securing only one conference win. The team possesses a burning desire to deviate from last season’s imperfect overall performance and believes that the introduction of a new coach with a fresh philosophy can help them live up to their potential and fuel a season characterized by success.
“We had a rough season last year,” sophomore forward Claire Jones said. “We are ready to win this year, and I am looking forward to working with this team and the new coaching staff to show everyone what we can do.”
The squad introduced seven new players, all of whom are ready to utilize their unique skills to enhance the team’s play.
With new and old talent further developed under the tutelage of Smith, the Red’s prospects for triumph should be bright. The decorated new coach comes to Cornell at an apt time, ready to transform the season outcome and team philosophy with his vast coaching experience.
From 2002 to 2012, Smith served as Dartmouth’s associate head coach, where he assisted Amy Fowler in leading the Big Green to five top-3 Ivy League finishes. The next year, he headed to the University of California to serve as the assistant head coach. Finally, Smith made his debut as head coach at the University of the Pacific, where, in his six-year tenure, he donned a 61-57 career record and coached the team to four conference championship wins.
His expertise, however, is not limited to college field hockey. He further developed his decorated coaching portfolio, spending a decade coaching with USA Field Hockey in a variety of roles, including the drag-flick coach. Throughout his long and illustrious career, his coaching philosophy has remained the same, and he looks forward to bringing his vision to the Cornell team.
“Coaching is coaching for me,” Smith said. “Over the past few years, I have developed that philosophy and I am going to be true to who I am. The expectations don’t change — I want to be the best team we can be. It is all about the enjoyable experience and creating a fun, positive learning environment for the team.”
The team has responded favorably to his new philosophy and coaching style.
“I love his style of coaching,” Jones said. “He puts us in game scenarios. The way he runs his practices is helping us get into the shape we need to be in to win.”
The Red will confront fierce competition this season, taking on some of the nation’s best teams including Princeton, Harvard, Syracuse and Penn. The Red, however, is ready to meet its opponents’ high-caliber play and grow from the challenge.
“We have a tough schedule, but I have done that deliberately because we want to be the best — to be the best you have to play the best,” Smith said. “I am not concerned about who we are playing, but rather that we put our best foot forward and take every game as it comes.”
The team is confident that it can earn a winning season. In order to win, both the players and coaching staff are focusing on developing a positive team culture and embracing the process involved in realizing victory.
“We are going to have some interesting games this year and surprise people along the way,” Smith said. “But we are also going to have our learning experiences, which are all part of it.”
The Red will open up its season against Syracuse at home at Dodson Field. The opening showdown will take place at noon on September 7.