The Castleton field hockey team has been experiencing one of the most successful seasons in program history, having recently broken a program record for consecutive wins with 10 straight and counting. The Spartan caught up with the new head coach of the team, Christine Kemp to get her thoughts on the teams winning ways.
You just broke a program record for most consecutive wins, how does that feel?
“It feels amazing, but I think the way we did is what was really special. You know, fighting through adversity, being down, coming back with under five minutes left and the controlling and scoring in overtime I think was just a special way to cap it off. But it does seem pretty surreal to have won nine straight games. We haven’t lost a game since September fifth!”
You haven’t lost a game since you got beat 10-0 by Middlebury, what changed after that game?
“Nobody wants to lose, but nobody wants to lose 10-0. And I think Middlebury being the number one team in the country you can always take something away from them and how they play both in terms of communication, they never stop talking, and just how they are connecting on passes. And I think after that game were like, a: we never want that to happen again, and b: how can we get better and what can we learn from them? So it probably contributed in terms of drive the most.”
How have you enjoyed being a head coach for your first time?
“It’s been awesome, it’s been everything I could have asked for, I think the team has made it this amazing experience because of how hungry they are, how much they want to learn and how hard they have been willing to work for me, so it’s been pretty special.”
You were an assistant coach at Skidmore and Bridgewater, what have you been able to carry over to here from those experiences?
“I guess I would say just the culture of wanting and expecting more and there being a higher standard that we are trying to achieve and once we get it the standard becomes higher. So it’s just this constant trying to get better and never being satisfied that will continue to help our program here compete at a high level.”
You came into the team with a heavy emphasis on physical fitness, was there anything else you emphasized with the team?
“That was a big component because that is something everyone can do, it’s not like I’m asking you to come in being able to reverse chip or anything crazy, it’s fitness you should all be able to do that and if we can come in in shape then we don’t have to spend time on it. But I think the other thing I emphasized in our opening meeting was to trust the process and to basically take a leap of faith. Things are going to be different and change can be really difficult for people but let’s be open minded and see what happens, and they did exactly that.”
You are the Futures Head Coach and Site Director for USA Field Hockey, what do you do?
“Futures is a youth developmental program and there are different regions all over. We have a region in the capitol district and in the past for several years I was one of the coaches and I mostly worked with the U16 group. And then this past year I directed the site for U19, so we had the U14 and U16 stayed at RPI. Then I directed and was the head coach for the U19 group at Skidmore. So basically, it’s like a spring session, with seven sessions, three hours each and it culminates with a big regional tournament. Basically, I took the area’s top players for U19 and coached them.”
You were a two-sport athlete, basketball and field hockey, and while you were good at both, field hockey is where you were a stand out. You held multiple program records, what led you to getting this insane resume?
“A couple of those records still exist, a couple of them do not. But my favorites are the assists records and those still exist, because, fun fact I went to Skidmore to play basketball. I considered myself to be a basketball player, I was a point guard which is why the assist records meant more to me than the goals or points. So yeah, I went to Skidmore to play basketball and my high school field hockey coaches were like ‘you should really play field hockey too,’ and of course you’re like 18 so you’re like ‘ok sure.’ I went and joined the field hockey team and I guess I just never realized my potential in field hockey. But I do attribute a lot of my field hockey success to basketball, the vision component, the change of direction and the change of speed of basketball. At Skidmore I just hadn’t tapped into what I could really do and honestly, I had amazing teammates and a really great coach who brought it out of me.”
How did you find Castleton?
“We used to play against Castleton at Skidmore, so I always knew about Castleton. And then I was coaching futures in the past with the previous coach here, so I’m friendly with her and I know her pretty well and honestly I saw she posted on Facebook she was leaving and so I reached out to her and was like ‘hey what can you tell me about Castleton,’ and she game some insight and I was like ‘I’m gonna go for it’. I’m ready to be a head coach and it’s so much potential entering a newer tougher conference just in general with recruiting and competing on a higher level.”
You’re not just a field hockey coach here, you’re also the strength and conditioning coach here, what’s that been like?
“It’s been awesome, I love strength and conditioning, that’s a personal hobby of mine so to be able to do that with some of the athletes here has been great. I work with both the women’s and men’s basketball teams, and they bring such a high energy that when I’m in there working with them I just kind of forget about everything else at that point because they are working so hard and are getting so much stronger already and their form is getting better, and it is really something I enjoy doing.”
What’s been your favorite part of Castleton, besides the Field Hockey?
“I’d honestly have to say the people, everyone I work with has been so supportive. You know, when you get here, you’re kind of like, ‘What do I do? How do I do this? How do I do that?’ You know Diane, the administrative assistant/athletics assistant, has been phenomenal in helping me figure out the ins and outs of running a program. All the coaches have been super supportive text messages or just checking in on the season. It just makes you feel at home, even as a new employee the outside of athletic staff, the professors and IT department, it’s just been a great environment.”
Final question, how far do you think this team can go this season?
“I told them when we’re doing our goals in August, I said our goal was to win the Little East Conference. And I think at the time everyone was kind of like ok, yeah maybe we can do that. I think now they’re like, yeah ok, that’s our goal we can do that. So that’s the goal is to win the conference, to win the regular season, to win the conference tournament to go to NCAA, that’s the goal. And I believe in this group that they can do that.”