Skip Navigation

Owls Begin Preseason Practice

Junior Lindy Caslin makes a defensive save during field hockey practice
Junior Lindy Caslin makes a defensive save during field hockey practice

Keene N.H., 8/19/2008 - While the men’s soccer team got an early start with its trip to Costa Rica last week, the rest of Keene State’s fall teams began their preseason on Monday, Aug. 25. The Owls are hoping that practice makes perfect.

“Every summer we train for the same thing: we want to win the Little East championship and return to the NCAA tournament,” said Alyssa Rowell, a senior All-American on the KSC field hockey team. “Hopefully, we can work a little harder and get better each year.”

There’s a lot of work to do in the meantime. The first day of practice can be a logistical nightmare for the coaches and staff. Eligibility has to be confirmed, physicals have to be taken, and housing has to be assigned. “The key is preparation,” said KSC athletic director John Ratliff. “You need a system in place that enables the athletes to get as much done as possible before they even arrive back on campus.”

Before stepping on the field, coaches give their players a chance to unwind and catch up with friends. “We don’t get them out immediately and put them through their paces,” said KSC cross country coach Peter Thomas. “We want them to start forming some bonds with their teammates and get comfortable in their environment.” Thomas uses a short time trial for his runners before sending them out on longer practice workouts.

“Sometimes you get players who are a little homesick,” said KSC women’s soccer coach Denise Lyons. “You need to talk to talk to them and make sure they are able to make the adjustment.”

“I think the freshmen can be intimidated by the whole experience,” said KSC field hockey coach Amy Watson. “It’s different for fall sports because you’re not only coming to a new team, but a new school and a new home. The first week can be overwhelming.”

“I was wicked nervous about coming and not knowing what to expect,” said Kristen Girard, a freshman from Red Hook, N.Y., who is trying out for the Owl volleyball team. “But everyone is nice. The skill level is much better than my high school team.”

Senior Brittany O’Bryant, a two-time All-LEC volleyball player for the Owls, knows this is her last chance to win a coveted LEC title and NCAA berth. “I’ve been watching the Olympics all week and it got me inspired to start practice,” she said.

Most coaches get right down to business, running three-a-day practices. The clock is ticking with just a couple of weeks to evaluate their teams and get ready for their first game. “You’re always trying to balance how hard to work them,” said Watson. “You hope they come in fit so you can work on their playing condition.”

KSC women’s volleyball coach Bob Weiner said evaluation can be tricky and time-consuming. “We have 10 new players, so we’re trying to figure out who’s who and what they are capable of doing,” he said. “You have to give players time to acclimate. Some take longer than others.”

While some coaches start off with drills, Lyons’ first practice includes a scrimmage pitting veterans against the new players. “We get to see what we have and the players get a chance to evaluate their competition,” she said. Regardless of their methods, the name of the game is to get ready for the season. The price paid in August can pay dividends in November. “The preseason can be very trying both mentally and physically, but you have to look at the big picture” said Watson. “It’s all about motivation and bringing the team closer. A good season starts with a good preseason.”

KSC teams kick off their fall seasons the weekend of August 30. The women’s soccer team is home against Norwich while everyone else is on the road; the men’s soccer team is at the Salisbury (Md.) tournament; the field hockey team is at RPI; and the volleyball squad is at Gordon College. The Owl cross country teams begin their season with an Alumni Meet before getting set for a meet the following week at Trinity College.

Related Stories

Contact Keene State College

229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435