When the Lackawanna Trail field hockey team heads out for a road game this season, a familiar face will be watching them board the bus from the front row.
Sandy Spott, who left the program just a year ago after a stellar career that included more than 300 wins, is back in charge of the Lady Lions.
She replaces Katie Snyder, who Spott said is pursuing a master’s degree and is now taking classes over the summer and in the fall, times of the year the field hockey team is at its most active.
So much for Spott enjoying a long retirement from coaching the Lady Lions, which she had done for 23 years since taking over from Janet Finn.
“I thought I might get into officiating,” Spott said. “I did get around to see a lot of games last year.”
She discovered that she missed coaching and missed being a part of the team, she was eager to teach her sport that has been part of her life for such a long time.
“I missed being around the energetic young women,” Spott said. “I’ve been involved with it since I was 13 years old.”
Spott figures the transition back to coaching will not take so long, since she is still familiar with many of the Lackawanna Trail girls.
“I’ve coached the junior and senior classes, so I know the girls, and they know how I coach,” Spott said.
It shouldn’t take too long for the sophomores and freshmen to adapt to Spott, whose record of success should speak loudly to any aspiring field hockey player at Lackawanna Trail. Spott will be coming off a year away from coaching, seemingly refreshed and now invigorated with some new ideas for coaching the Lady Lions.
Many of those games she saw during her time last fall came at Wyoming Valley Conference sites that have synthetic turf, which makes for a different type of game. The players can count on consistent bounces and not have to worry about bad hops that can happen on grass fields. Spott hopes that what she learned last fall can help the Lady Lions, who play on a grass field but who are increasing their time on synthetic turf.
“We’re fortunate enough to get on Keystone College’s turf field,” Spott said. “Passing can become more accurate on the turf.”
The game itself gets a lot quicker, requiring that the players be more mobile and able to adapt to the increased speed. Spott was well aware of all that before she halted her coaching career, but having last fall off allowed her the freedom to watch fellow WVC teams perform at higher speeds, without the responsibilities of coaching her own team at the same time.
She spent much of the time assessing what the successful high school programs were doing on the turf and how to get a grass-field team up to speed on the synthetic surface.
Spott will take what she has learned over the last year, hoping to find a way to spur the Lady Lions to greater success on the turf while maintaining a strong home-field advantage on their own grass field.
It is another challenge awaiting Spott, who has conquered many of them over her 23 years in charge at Lackawanna Trail.
“I’m looking forward to having a successful season,” she said.
She still has the coach-speak part down pat.