When the field hockey team resumes practice next spring, a new face will be at the head of the program. The athletics department announced Wednesday that the contract of 12-year coach Lauren Fuchs would not be renewed.
“We are grateful for Lauren’s years of service with the Temple field hockey program and wish her well in the future,” athletics director Bill Bradshaw said in a statement on Owlsports.com. “At this time, however, we feel it is best for the program to move in a different direction.”
Although Fuchs’ win total was the second-highest in the program’s history, her overall record was well below .500. While the Owls consistently compiled decent records against the Atlantic Ten Conference, they never came out with an overall winning record under Fuchs.
The Owls made the A-10 playoffs nine times during her tenure, reaching the A-10 title game three times. The Owls won the title in 1994, the season in which Fuchs was named the A-10 Coach of the Year. In 1992, the Owls made their only appearance in the NCAA Tournament under Fuchs’ guidance.
The move did not go over well with the players, who saw Fuchs not only as a coach, but also as a friend.
“The entire team loved her,” junior defender Talia Ruth said. “I was surprised [by the move].”
The decision surprised some on the team, but not everyone. Junior midfielder Katie Stevenson saw Fuchs’ change to a more offensive style of play as a hint that this season might be a make or break year.
According to Ruth, Fuchs was always open and clear when communicating with players. Fuchs also looked for input from the players themselves, to shape the goals she had for the team with the ones the players had in mind.
The players felt secure in Fuchs’ strategy and knowledge of the game.
“She knew everything [there is] to know about hockey,” Stevenson said. “She knew exactly what to adjust. It wasn’t her fault. We just didn’t make the adjustments.”
Ruth felt that the University looked too deeply into Fuchs’ losing record, pointing out that she always looked to play a tough non-conference schedule. Temple lost many of those games.
“Coach wanted to challenge us and see an upper level of play,” Ruth said.
That higher level of play may be just what the administration wants to produce from this team. Fuchs had proven to be able to get the Owls to succeed in the conference and get to the playoffs, but the lone conference championship during Fuchs’ tenure shows how the team struggled in postseason play.
Ruth said it will be tough next season for the team to adjust to a new coach, and stressed that the new coach will need to generate a positive feeling early.
“We are going to have to regroup without her,” Ruth said of Fuchs. “It could be positive getting someone new in there. We are going to have to try to get used to something completely different.”
Ruth said it will be important for the new coach to get along with everyone and be both a friend and a coach, similar to the way Fuchs had been. Ruth also said the team is tight-knit and that the new coach will need to be team-oriented and listen to the input of the team’s leaders.
“I want the coach to have respect for the team and what has already been built,” Stevenson added.
John Kopp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org