From Australian graduate students to Los Angeles firemen, UCSB Club Field Hockey seniors have seen many new faces when it comes to coaching. With the university as the only hot spot for the sport in Santa Barbara, the Gauchos have struggled to find a permanent coaching staff, a staff that is necessary after current coach Lauren Hess graduates from UCSB with her Master of Environmental Science and Management degree in the spring.
Captain Brittany Eason explained the main difficulty in finding a coach revolves around the fact that most field hockey players live in southern and northern California, and Santa Barbara is trapped between the two areas. Most coaches who are interested would have to commute to Santa Barbara, which can be hard when the team practices every day in the fall and travels up and down the coast for games.
“We’re looking for someone who is committed to our team, has playing experience, and is dedicated to the sport,” Eason said. “We would like a coach who provides positive energy and feedback.”
Like a coach to many players on the team, goalie Lindsay Gary retires her number 42 jersey with the Gauchos after this spring season, a departure that forces the Gauchos to scramble for a new goalie in the fall. Gary has started every game played with the Gauchos since she joined the team in 2005. Without Gary in the fall, the Gauchos hope for incoming freshmen to fill her position.
Despite which coaches have bounced around UCSB’s turf, the Gauchos remain a tough competitor each year in the fall regular season. The Gauchos have finished each year within the top three in their league. In the 2007-2008 season, the Gauchos blindsided rival Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in the finals to clinch the Western Collegiate Field Hockey Conference state title.
Although the Gauchos did finish third this past fall season, they suffered an embarrassing 2-1 semi-final loss against UC Davis in what they thought would have been an easy sweep into the championship game. Cal Poly later went on to defeat UC Davis 3-0 in the finals.
Senior players won’t have a chance to meet Cal Poly in another state championship, but they will have an opportunity to meet the Mustangs at the 2009 California Cup Field Hockey Tournament, essentially the United States’ World Cup of field hockey. Each year, teams from Canada to the West Indies travel to Moorpark, California, in the hopes of winning the California Cup title. Last year, the Gauchos lost in the semi-finals against Cal Poly to take the bronze medal in the tournament, while the Mustangs advanced to the finals to win gold.
“It’s always a great game against Cal Poly,” Eason said. “They’re physical and intense. I’m looking forward to see how we compete against them.”
This year the Gauchos will compete in the Women’s Competitive Pool A against Canada’s team Fury, Anaheim’s Crushers, and – in an attempt to redeem themselves in the Western Collegiate Field Hockey Conference – UC Davis.
“It’s a sensitive subject,” Eason said. “They surprised us in the fall and came out strong, but if we play our game it will be a good chance to show them how we should have played in the semi-finals.”
To prepare for the Memorial Day California Cup Tournament, the Gauchos have scheduled a friendly scrimmage at home against the Cal Poly Mustangs. The game will be held at noon this Sunday, May 17, at UCSB’s Rob Field. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.