Shipp Steps Up To Coach Ashland’s Girls Varsity Soccer Team

Ken Hamwey, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
July, 2018
Article Body: 

When Jensen Shipp was hired to be Ashland High’s new girls soccer coach, that decision went a long way to ensure returning players and new candidates that the transition to a new mentor would be smooth.
The 29-year-old Shipp spent the last two autumns as the Clockers’ jayvee girls coach and he also worked closely with head coach Traci Sipniewski, who stepped down after four years. Sipniewski’s husband changed jobs and the family moved to Tennessee.
During his two years at the jayvee level, Shipp’s squad won three matches in his first season but increased its win total to 11 last year. More important than wins and losses, however, was Shipp’s ability to develop talent for varsity play and to instill a competitive and organized style.
“What kind of approach we utilize at the varsity level really depends on our players’ technique and talent,’’ said Shipp, who was a midfielder and back at Algonquin Regional. “When we have the ball, we want to keep moving it and moving our bodies in space. When we’re without the ball, we want to be organized and compact. Being compact translates to limiting space to our opponents.’’
Shipp, who’s been involved with coaching and directing boys and girls club teams for the last five years, firmly believes that Ashland can earn a tourney berth in the fall. He knows there’s experience and depth available and he likes the culture that Sipniewski built and fostered.
“I was pleased to be part of what Traci built,’’ Shipp said. “We’ll continue to stress the core value system that she emphasized. I’m impressed with the way players worked and focused. They strived to improve and to understand the game.’’
Shipp’s coaching philosophy will embrace what he refers to as “CARE” and his players will quickly learn what the letters stand for.
“It’s all about being competitive, accountable, respectful and enjoying every day,’’ said Shipp, who is an assistant coach with the girls Olympic Development Program. “Being competitive includes practice and games and being accountable means in the classroom as well as on the field. Respect involves the way players treat coaches, teammates and their community. And, enjoyment is about being with people who share common goals.’’
A UMass-Amherst graduate who majored in sports management, Shipp works as an aide in special education at the Peaslee School in Northboro. He’s currently working on a masters degree in education at American International College.
Hired after two interviews, Shipp met returning varsity players and jayvees in February and stressed the importance of out-of-season work and the need to constantly aim for skill improvement. “We discussed the need to go to camps and clinics and how important it is to stay in shape, whether the kids are involved in organized training or just working out on their own,’’ he said. “We lost six seniors but have about 15 returnees, so we’ll have a group of 20-22 that will provide depth and experience.’’
When assembling his roster this fall, Shipp, who played a year of college soccer at Suffolk University before transferring to UMass, will select candidates who possess all or many of the attributes he believes make a soccer player well-rounded.
“I look for players who work hard, accept feedback, have good technique and purpose, are comfortable with or without the ball, have speed and quickness and possess a high soccer IQ,’’ he emphasized. “Accepting feedback is all about fixing or correcting any deficiency they may have. It’s about being coachable.’’
John Frederick was Shipp’s high school coach and it’s Frederick’s concepts that Shipp embraces. “He set clear expectations for you and he provided you with the necessary strategy,’’ Shipp noted. “Then, he let us play and figure things out. He also had a great sense of calmness.’’
Perhaps it was that calm sense that rubbed off on Shipp when he was a senior at Algonquin, competing for a program that enjoyed perennial success. The Tomahawks lost to St. John’s Prep of Danvers in the Division 1 State final in 2006 but Shipp helped his teammates get to the finale when he scored a clutch goal in the Sectional quarterfinals against Wachusett.
“The game went to overtime, then was eventually settled on penalty shots,’’ Shipp said. “I scored on the last shot and that win kept us alive. “I beat the goalie to his left side.’’
That was indeed a memorable moment in Shipp’s playing days and he’s hoping there’ll be successful outcomes for his Clockers. Well-versed on the program and its culture from his jayvee perch last year, Jensen Shipp’s transition to varsity coach should go smoothly. But, he’s acutely aware of how strong and competitive the Tri Valley League is.
“It’s a great league,’’ he said. “The teams are very strong and the players are talented. To succeed it’ll take hard work and purpose. It’ll be a challenge but it’s a challenge we look forward to embracing.’’