HUGHESTOWN — With days until the start of the fall sports season for Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association teams, an area field hockey team got into the swing of things — not as players, but as coaches.
The Pittston Area field hockey team hosted its fourth annual youth field hockey clinic from Monday, Aug. 10 through Friday, Aug. 14 at the Pittston Area Primary Center. Dozens of Pittston Area athletes entering fourth through eighth grades received tips and instruction from Patriot varsity players and coaches at the free clinic
Sixth-year coach Caitlin Hadzimichalis, also an assistant women’s basketball coach at King’s College, began the camp four years ago. Because she wasn’t a teacher in the school district, she couldn’t operate an intramural program; therefore, the only option was the clinic.
“The clinic is to get a lot of younger players in the school district interested in the program and meet the girls,” she said. “Some of the faces are familiar. We’re trying to build their interest and a fan base. They see us practicing all the time and now they will know who we are.”
Throughout the camp, Hadzimichalis, fellow coaches and varsity players showed younger players the basics of handling a field hockey stick. There were passing drills and shooting drills, along with team concept demonstration. Most of all, it was a fun experience, the coach said.
But the top priority was the basics.
“We do a lot of fundamentals and a lot of basic drills,” Hadzimichalis said. “We’re trying to get them used to having a stick in their hands. It’s a very technical sport.”
Not only does Pittston Area benefit from having its younger girls on the field, the team’s varsity players benefit from spending time with younger players.
Hadzimichalis said it’s a great experience for her players and some of those players receive volunteer hours for being a part of the camp. Seniors Molly Walsh and Alana Platukus were just two of a handful of Pittston Area players who helped lead the camp.
“It’s nice to see that all these girls are going to be continuing the program when we are done,” Platukus said. “We had intramurals when we were in fifth grade, but we didn’t have anything like this. We’re happy to be here.”
Walsh couldn’t help but smile from ear-to-ear while watching the younger girls compete.
“It’s so cute,” she said. “It makes me smile. To see them so interested in the sport at such a young age is great. You can see the fire in their eyes.”
Although Hadzmichalis’ main goal is to teach the younger players the game, she also concentrates on the impression her varsity players leave.
At the start of camp, the coach tells her players, “Your job is to make them want to be you.”
“That’s the best part,” she said. “They already think they are the coolest kids around. We want them to see our girls and remember who they are.”
Pittston Area will have its first official practice on Monday, Aug. 17.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick