While many students spend their summers on vacation or playing in all-star tournaments, some students of Lackawanna Trail put their plans on hold to attend the school’s annual field hockey clinic July 7-10.
The clinic provided girls in grades 6-12 the opportunity to improve their field hockey skills while learning from Trail’s veteran coaching minds, who have more than 50 years of combined coaching experience.
The camp was conducted by Rachel Boyle, a 1992 Trail graduate who played four years of field hockey at Ohio University and currently serves as head women’s field hockey coach at Washington College.
“She has tremendous knowledge and really is a student of the game,” Boyle’s father and Trail junior high head coach Gary Wilmet said. “As a college coach, you have to stay current with what’s going on with new skills or techniques and have the method to get that across, and she does a great job with that.”
Wilmet has been with the junior high program for 23 years, ever since he was offered the position by then varsity head coach Sandy Spott.
“I got myself a book and watched her practices for about a week and fashioned my coaching based off what she was doing,” Wilmet said. “Now my daughter and I talk (field) hockey all the time so I pick up a lot of things and techniques from her.”
Spott, who had led the Lady Lions for 23 years and was head coach when Boyle played for the Lady Lions, was also a helper at the camp, and will return as Trail’s varsity head coach this season after taking a year off.
Wilmet’s long-time assistant coach Kelly Buck also contributed at the clinic, and will assist Spott on the varsity team in the fall.
The clinic focused in on the fundamentals of field hockey, starting with the general basics and advancing throughout the week until Boyle was running the same types of drills she implements at the college level.
“It’s kind’ve a rapid learning curve and we just have to keep moving on with it,” Wilmet said. “She (Boyle) ran the program and we just worked along and helped to make sure things were learned the proper way. The older girls were really helpful with the younger girls in helping them along. I think the girls really got a lot out of it”
Twenty one girls attended the camp, with the majority of them at the high school level, but Wilmet was still able to get a brief look at some of the girls he’ll end up coaching in junior high.
“Most of the time the younger girls have never been involved with anything that is as physically taxing and requires that much running and endurance,” he said. “The advantage for those girls is that they get a taste of what the practices will be like. It’s a great opportunity for them to be involved and to watch the older girls because they get to see where they have to be as they get older at the high school level.”
Overall, the clinic provided a great opportunity for the girls to learn the sport of field hockey from several seasoned coaches, and get a taste of what they can expect from the Lady Lions’ program come the fall.
“The biggest thing is to prepare the kids to move on to the high school level and then the kids who want to play in college,” Wilmet said. “The jump from eighth grade to ninth grade is a tough one, but there were a lot of competitive girls that I think are ready to move on and may get the opportunity to play at the varsity level, or for sure junior varsity level. I try to tell them that they have to improve every year to maintain that competitive edge.
“Hopefully Trail will be back on the map with field hockey this year.”