New Field Hockey Coach Cracks the Whip
Ashley Delvecchio is blonde, blue-eyed and average height. She dons up-to-date athletic apparel and can often be found on Ginny Parker Field after school. As far as first appearances go, it may come as a surprise that Delvecchio describes herself as one of the toughest head coaches the team has seen. Her rigorous techniques stem from her day (and night) job: a Westport police officer. As the first policewoman the field hockey team has ever called coach, Delvecchio is laying down the law on Ginny Parker. The team seems well aware that Delvecchio runs a tight ship, both on and off the field.
“We’re definitely taking the code of conduct much more seriously this year than any other year in history,” said tri-captain Shelby Phares ’13.
Delvecchio, a well-seasoned FCIAC participant herself, is well -qualified for the coaching job. She grew up in Fairfield, where she played field hockey for Fairfield Warde High School, and then went on to play at Eastern Connecticut State University. Delvecchio’s career choice, however, is what sets her apart from other FCIAC coaches with similar field hockey backgrounds.
For example, Delvecchio learned the importance of teamwork firsthand at the Connecticut Police Academy in Meriden, Conn., and she often enforces this lesson at practice through physical activity, such as making the team run a full field sprint for every minute a teammate is late. “If someone forgot something for class at the Police Academy, our whole session would face the consequence. You would never be an individual; you always hold the team accountable, so I take that into perspective,” Delvecchio said.
“When [the team] is telling me that they’re tired and they’re hurting, I know in my head, from my experiences, that ‘you can do this’,” Delvecchio said.
The words “tired” and “hurting” are expected, as the field hockey team has conditioned more this season than any season the tri-captains remember from seasons past. Tryouts, for example, included running a timed mile every day until each person achieved below seven minutes, 30 seconds. Other exercises commonly implemented by Delvecchio include hill sprints and “300s,” where the team runs to the 25 yard line and back 12 times, then repeats that sprint three times.
“I am a firm believer that being in good shape is what wins,” Delvecchio said.
The team is ready to make the commitment to field hockey, especially with big shoes to fill from last year’s FCIAC championship win. In order to achieve this status again, tri-captain Jackie Lawrence ’13 believes you can have it one way or the other.
“You can choose to be on the team, and be part of the team, and have fun with all of us, or you can choose to go out and do as you please,” Lawrence said. “We just don’t have the luxury of messing around.”
Just a few weeks in and the team has already seen positive results of Delvecchio’s strict coaching style.
“We say there’s more conditioning and it’s hard work, but we’re all cheering each other on and we do it together and laugh about it together. It’s a bonding experience,” Lawrence said.
The team has grown closer because of the hard work and even gained some stories along the way about Delvecchio’s experiences as a police officer.
“She’s serious about making sure we go out there and try our best because she wants to see us play well, but it’s so much fun and she’s so sweet,” tri-captain Josie Fair ’13 said. “It’s just on the field that she cracks the whip.”
Delvecchio recognizes that the team needed some time to adapt to her coaching style.
“They were definitely frustrated with me during preseason, but now they’re starting to see if they do things right, it will benefit them,” Delvecchio said.
The team may not have been expecting Coach Ashley Delvecchio, Westport police officer, to step in as the new varsity coach, but now that she has, they are quickly adjusting. “Everyone knows that high schoolers like to go out on the weekends, but we are all so close, and you make the commitment to the team. It’s worth it,” Fair said.
“Partying is what our twenties are for,” added Lawrence.