The start of the 2016 season brought changes to the women’s soccer team when head coach Michael Webber announced his resignation and Pam Monnier was moved from assistant coach into the position of interim head coach.
Monnier said Webber resigned to move closer to family in Boston.
“It was a family decision—he had the opportunity to be closer to [his kids] and be closer to his parents and his brother, so I think it was the right move for him at the right time,” Monnier said. “It’s something I feel ready for, but the timing was a little stressful, but it’s definitely an opportunity I’m ready to take on and I’m very grateful for Coach Webber and giving me the tools to feel prepared to coach the Allegheny team.”
Monnier began her career at Allegheny at the start of the 2015 season as the assistant coach for the women’s soccer team and has used that experience to prepare for the position of head coach.
Co-captains Sarah Donohue, ’18, Jessie Thiessen, ’17, and Sam Brooks, ’18 are confident in Monnier’s potential as head coach and what she will bring to the team this season.
“[Monnier] was with us last season so that definitely helped a lot,” Donohue said. “When she found out, she immediately contacted everyone on the team and said we just needed to be positive about this and we’re going to miss him and it’s going to be tough, but as long we stick together we’re going to get through this and she has stuck to that. She sticks to her word and is there for absolutely every player.”
Thiessen said Monnier has done well picking up where Webber left off and incorporating her tips and coaching style into practices.
“It’s definitely different being the primary person, to make the final decision has been interesting. It’s a role that I’m not necessarily used to, but I think doing things collaboratively with the team has helped me feel comfortable with [having] that last final decision and that last final say,” Monnier said.
The collaboration between coach and athlete has helped the team transition as well, giving them the chance to share their thoughts on practices.
“[Monnier’s] been very open with everything and open in communication with the entire team, asking our input for a lot of things, which is cool,” said Brooks. “We have input on how practice went or if we wanted to change anything in preseason.”
Although the transition between coaches has been fairly smooth, challenges have arisen as well.
“Expectations is a big [challenge]. We had a tough year last year as a program and we’re looking to bounce back,” Monnier said. “It’s a challenge in and of itself when a head coach leaves and someone needs to step up and cover, but having the comfort of knowing it’s someone who’s been a part of the program is something they were happy about.”
Brooks said the hardest part has been getting used to Monnier’s coaching because it is different than what the team knew with Webber.
“It’s not a bad transition, but getting used to it is different. It was a little rough in the beginning, but I think we’ve got it down,” Brooks said.
Along with coaching changes, the team is also struggling with having a smaller team than previous years.
“We have a very small team and have come in with a couple of injuries… Overcoming injuries and coming in with a bigger freshman class than the previous year can be tough. It’s a different kind of soccer from high school to college,” Donohue said.
In addition to having low numbers this year, the team does not have a full-time goalie.
“Our back-up goalie transferred and then our other goalie is injured right now, so that’s been the biggest problem so far. We have a girl who is normally a field player who played a little bit of goalie in high school so she’ll be okay, but hopefully our normal goalie will be healthy soon,” Thiessen said.
Through all the challenges and changes, the captains are looking ahead at the season and achieving their goal of reaching the NCAC Championship.
“[Our goal is] to win more games, more than we have in the past. And honestly just being a team, on and off the field, because if you’re successful at coming together and overcoming this challenge, that will definitely show on the field as well,” Donohue said.
Monnier said she is excited for the season and confident in the team’s potential for success.
“I think we have the potential to definitely shock the world, to pull some wins,” Monnier said. “I think it’s going to be a good test to see if the preparation I’ve put in is where it should be and if I’m progressing in the right way. I’m excited for the opportunity to make this position mine full time at the end of the year, and take this on and really take the Allegheny team to another level with keeping in mind the legacy Coach Webber left behind.”