Stepping in as a first-year head coach is a daunting task. Doing so for a program that has gone through five head coaches in five years could be downright frustrating. But Katie Holloway, head coach for the Lady Indians’ varsity field hockey team, hasn’t let a discouraging season get her down, and her athletes have kept their heads up, too.
Indian River dropped their game on Tuesday, Oct. 25, to Polytech, 5-0, keeping the Lady Indians from marking a tally in the win column this year, but they maintain high spirits, which bodes well for the program’s future.
“Stepping into a program that has struggled over the years, like it has, is definitely a tough thing to do,” said Holloway, “but you have to start somewhere. I definitely want to come back to this team next year. There’s a lot of talent, and having that consistency among players is definitely going to help.”
After starting the season with a 3-5 loss to Sussex Central, the Lady Indians struggled, allowing six straight shutouts. But since early October, Holloway and the team have noticed strides of improvement. And, as the old adage goes, better late than never.
“The girls really kept things close against Laurel the other week,” said Holloway. “We finished that game 2-1, and to have a team still keeping the game respectable – especially after the way this season has gone – is a major accomplishment. They’re working off a couple of rough seasons, but they’re coming so far.”
The priority for the Lady Indians now is to finish out the season strong and work on staying active through the offseason.
“Our main focus is to work on our winter conditioning,” Holloway noted of her plans for after the season is over. “Some girls are signing up for another field hockey league. We also have some girls who are going to be swimming and playing basketball this winter. I’m not sure what some of our freshmen plan on doing, but we’d like to see everyone staying loose and active through the winter and spring.”
The season has been a trying one for the first-year head coach, but despite the team’s record, she’s not going away empty-handed.
“I’m taking a lot of lessons that I’ve learned from this season,” she said. “I have spent years as an assistant coach and, last year, I stepped up with Sussex Central’s indoor hockey team. There’s still a lot to be said about a program like this, and as long as you stick with it, good things will happen. It takes time, though.”
The Lady Indians had plenty of practice time last week, going 11 days without a game, but as the season’s schedule draws to a close, they will find themselves playing four games in just six days.
“We definitely have to keep going,” Holloway added. “Even though it’s been a rough season, I don’t want our girls giving up. Losses are going to happen. That’s part of the game. But these girls have definitely come a long way. I want them to really see the positives in this season. They know what they need to do to improve. It’s just a matter of following through.”
Indian River was set to hit the road this Thursday, Oct. 27, at Milford (after Coastal Point press time), then they plan to round out the season at home, hosting Lake Forest on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 11 a.m. for the Senior Game, then Sussex Tech on Monday, Oct. 31, at 3 p.m. and Woodbridge on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 3:30 p.m.