New Women’s Field Hockey coaches prepare for excellence

Next fall, the new women’s field hockey team will step onto the field for its inaugural season.

The Allegheny College Board of Trustees authorized the installation of the team in 2017, and the coaches have been scouring the nation for new recruits for the young program.

“I feel extremely blessed and lucky,” said Valerie Lohr, women’s field hockey head coach. “I never thought that I’d start another program again.”

Lohr was coaching a high school team in Pittsburgh when she heard about the new Allegheny team. At the time, she was frustrated with the lack of practice time in high school sports because she could not connect with her students in such a short amount of time.

“You didn’t get to have that next level of ‘How can I help mature you and help you reach your full potential as a human being,’ because that’s what we do as coaches,” Lohr said. “It’s not just about x’s, o’s, attack, defense and scores; it’s about developing people to be the best versions of themselves and you get to really invest yourself and you get to learn more about yourself.”

Since she has started programs before, Lohr is no stranger to new challenges. Although initially hesitant, she said she quickly felt at home once she arrived on campus for the first time.

The kids we’re bringing in are such good people, and they’re great athletes

— Valerie Lohr, Head women's field hockey coach

“Everyone that I interacted with was just about making something so special that I just felt honored to even interview,” Lohr said.

After accepting the job, Lohr headed straight to Florida for a tournament, where she met soon-to-be assistant coach Margaret Maclean. Lohr described her as being the most qualified candidate.

“I was coaching a club team down in Florida and ran into Valerie, who actually used to coach me, and she asked me what I was doing after college and I said I wanted to coach, and she basically said that I was going to be her assistant,” Maclean said. “I laughed it off and was applying to other places and Allegheny was ultimately the right fit.”

As someone who was part of a brand new team, Maclean understood the struggle of trying to build a team culture during the first few years. She hopes that her past will help her become a better coach for the team.

The duo have strived to find the best possible recruits for the first team.

“The kids we’re bringing in are such good people, and they’re great athletes” Lohr said. “They’re smart, their families are so kind, warm and encouraging. It’s such a wonderful combination.”

The recruitment process was also difficult due to the attachment the coaches had to their potential new students. Lohr described it as heartbreaking, but understandable.

“You just start seeing them in places on the field and around campus. You know if they come here that they’re going to have the best education, best internships, or they’re going to go abroad,” Lohr said. “They’re going to be just barnburners and powerful women when they leave here so when they’re unable to attend, the toughest part is that it’s heartbreaking for me because I can see their potential, and I know what we can do with them.”

Both coaches agreed the hardest part of developing the team has been letting young athletes know the new program exists. Lohr believes the college has an excellent reputation that is not spread far enough.

Even with a young team, the main goal the coaches have is to be victorious.

“It’s always fun, but it’s also fun to win, and the girls that are coming in want to have fun and they want to grow and want to keep that balance, but they also want to win,” Lohr said.

All in all, the coaches are ecstatic for the first of everything for the team.

“I am really excited for this upcoming season and seeing what it holds,” Maclean said.

While they are excited now, they also know that the season will be over before they know it.

“Time just spins right by, and I just can’t wait until that first home game when the girls step onto that turf for the first time, wearing their uniforms, carrying the pride and just putting it away,” Lohr said. “I’m just getting goosebumps; I’m thrilled.”