Devoted to Field Hockey, Meehan, MacDonald Take Coaching Reins at KP

New coaches Kim Meehan, left, and Erin MacDonald, far right, have experienced talent in seniors, from left, Nicole Connor, Alli Meehan, Kate Lindmark, Dana Truini, Claire Lawlor, and Emma Izydorczak.
Issue Date: 
October, 2018
Article Body: 

Kim Meehan and Erin MacDonald decided in August, a week before pre-season practice got underway, to become co-coaches of King Philip’s field hockey program.
A replacement had already been selected to succeed Liz Hathaway but that candidate withdrew, leaving the Warriors without a coach. So, as practice sessions approached and the squad in dire need of a leader, the two women agreed to take charge of both the varsity and the jayvee teams and work as co-coaches at both levels.
They don’t view themselves as saviors but they certainly stepped to the plate and rescued a program that has been a success. Last year, the Warriors won Hockomock League and Sectional championships before bowing out to Andover, 1-0, on a penalty stroke in the state semifinals. The 2017 contingent posted a 20-3-1 overall record.
Both Meehan and MacDonald have strong links to the sport. They played field hockey in high school, and Meehan owns and directs a club team (Patriot Field Hockey) out of Norwood. Both coached at the youth level and as high school assistants. Meehan was an assistant coach at Mansfield for four years and MacDonald was KP’s freshmen coach for five years and also served as the Warriors’ jayvee coach and varsity assistant for seven seasons. And, both have daughters on this year’s squad.
“I felt I needed to get involved,’’ said Meehan who played at Walpole High. “I want the program to be as strong as possible. I know field hockey and I want to be a positive influence on the girls. From the start, Erin and I received tremendous support from the school administration.’’ MacDonald is a KP grad and she wasn’t about to let her alma mater down. “I wanted to keep the program alive,’’ she said. “I’ve been a mom for a long stretch and to return to coaching is a delight.’’
When a team has two coaches with equal authority, it could lead to some awkward moments. Meehan and MacDonald, however, don’t see any problems.
“We want to be role models,’’ Meehan emphasized. “We’ll work through any differences. If we have differing opinions, we’ll compromise.’’ MacDonald said: “We’ll make quick decisions during games and go with what works. We trust each other’s judgment.’’
KP Athletic Director Gary Brown is delighted Meehan and MacDonald joined the Warriors’ coaching lineup. “We’re very excited to have Erin and Kim lead the field hockey program,’’ he said. “They bring a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm and they truly understand the student-athlete. They have an excellent balance of competing at the highest level and making the student-athlete experience fun.’’
A big plus for the first-time varsity coaches are the numbers. They’ve got six returning seniors and only three players graduated from last year’s squad. One of them, however, was Abby Campbell, a top-notch goalie who’s now at Stonehill.
“We’ve got a strong core-group of seniors who are experienced,’’ Meehan said. “And, our underclassmen are talented and promising.’’
The seniors include captain Alli Meehan (striker), Emma Izydorczak (center defender), Kate Lindmark (left back), midfielders Nicole Connor and Dana Truini and Claire Lawler (forward). Meehan will be playing for Northeastern next fall on scholarship and Izydorczak has committed to play at St. Anselm’s.
“Allie is fast, skilled and her stick-work is solid,’’ the coaches said. “Emma is physical, smart and quick on defense while Kate’s stick skills are phenomenal. Nicole is fast and athletic and Dana is quick and has lots of endurance. Both are effective in transition. Claire is positive, persistent, coachable and has quick hands.’’
Expectations will be high, especially after last year’s run to the state semifinals, but Meehan and MacDonald have the goals for their squad in perspective. “We want to improve daily and build team chemistry, on and off the field,’’ they emphasized. “Winning the Kelly-Rex Division title and qualifying for the tourney are realistic objectives that can be achieved.’’
Both coaches agree that KP’s top competitors will be Canton, Mansfield and Franklin. “Canton is well-coached and traditionally strong,’’ they noted. “Mansfield is always strong and well-coached while Franklin remains a very competitive program.’’
Meehan and MacDonald, who’ve guided KP to a 3-0 record at Local Town Pages deadline, are counting on a variety of their players’ strengths to surface. “We’ve got speed and quickness,’’ they said. “And, we’re athletic, have experience and a high field hockey IQ.’’
With those assets, the coaches will rely on an up-tempo style on offense that focuses on speed and precise passing. Their coaching philosophies not only are similar, but they also coincide with a strong work ethic.
“I expect the players to give 100 percent,’’ Meehan said. “Success will follow if the effort is there and they’ll realize that success equals fun.” MacDonald, who guided the KP jayvees to a pair of unbeaten seasons in her final two years in that role, notes that “if the girls are having fun competing and reaching their potential, then winning will be the by-product.’’
Both Meehan and MacDonald have four children each and are college graduates. Meehan has a business degree from Bryant and a master’s in education from Cambridge College. She taught at the middle school in Mansfield. MacDonald has a bachelor’s degree from Newbury College in physical therapy.
Life lessons learned in athletics are many and the new coaching tandem hopes their players will embrace several. “Life lessons like overcoming adversity and learning to be leaders are important,’’ they said. “And, sports teach that hard work pays off and that sportsmanship and kindness are valuable attributes.’’
Kim Meehan, who lives in Norfolk, and Erin MacDonald, who resides in Wrentham, are now leading KP’s varsity and jayvee field hockey teams. They stepped up to fill coaching vacancies when the clock was ticking towards the deadline. They may not think of themselves as a rescue force but they’ve displayed a marvelous sense of pride in their school and their community.