HARWICH – When the Monomoy field hockey team kicked off its 2018 season with a scrimmage against Barnstable on Monday, it was their first competition under the tutelage of new head coach Jennifer Estes. While fans might recall her keeping books at past games, this season the former college player has stepped onto the sidelines and aims to inspire her student athletes on and off the field.
By day Estes teaches math at Monomoy Regional Middle School, where she has seen firsthand the passion local players have for field hockey through the program there headed by Kathy Andrews. But Estes is no stranger to the sport. At Smith College, Estes played both field hockey and lacrosse, serving as a captain of the field hockey team. In 2014 she was named a New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference Second Team All-Conference player, and in 2015 was named the Smith College Athlete of the Year.
“Field hockey was always a big part of my high school life and college life, and sports in general were something I always loved and used as an outlet in many different ways,” Estes said. “[Through coaching] I wanted to kind of give back to my community. Approaching my third year of teaching I felt like I had a grasp on things. I felt like it was a good time for me to take on a new role and encourage athletes and students outside the classroom.”
What Estes appreciated most about the sport of field hockey went beyond the skillful maneuvers necessary to score goals to the connections made between athletes.
“I think it's the community and the togetherness that I experienced on the college team that really inspired me to want to foster that in a high school team,” Estes said. “That tight-knit closeness is something that is unparalleled with anything you can feel otherwise. Anything you can do together and feel an accomplishment together is really inspiring, and that's what I'm hoping I transfer to them, as well.”
The Monomoy program, as fans know, carries on a longstanding tradition of field hockey success, fostered in the days of Chatham and Harwich High Schools under former coaches Andrews and Cheryl Poore, the latter of whom coached the Monomoy program until 2016. Estes is looking forward to continuing the program's prowess.
“I think again that comes with the support of playing together,” said Estes. “A lot of what I'm doing now for preseason is team building and team bonding, and I think that's going to transpire on the field. We're going to see players working for each other and together, not as individual as some high school teams have become.”
With just a few weeks of formal practices and a scrimmage now in the books, Estes said she's impressed with the work ethic of her players.
“I’m so grateful to be coaching student athletes who are so intrinsically motivated and determined to be successful,” she said. “They work hard for each other and it is inspiring as a coach to see that level of trust and teamwork so early in the season.”
Estes will be working with junior varsity coach Libby Hart and feels that her work as a teacher and the fact that both are younger coaches will prove positive in connecting with her team.
“I think that both Libby and I are younger coaches and I think that's going to benefit us in terms of relating to the kids,” Estes said, adding that she's keeping an eye on players looking to play in college. “I'm really looking forward to helping those athletes interested in playing collegiate field hockey accomplish that goal.”
As the team's first official game of the season approaches (Sept. 7 at D-Y beginning at 4 p.m.), Estes is eager to compete.
“We're excited,” she said. “I think it's a new energy and a new level for them. We're looking forward to a great season.”