International coach boosts field hockey offense

Temple’s field hockey team hired Ross Gilham-Jones as an assistant coach this month.

Assistant coach Ross Gilham-Jones speaks with freshman midfielder Micki Butler during a warm-up drill before the Owls’ 2-3 loss against Providence College at Howarth Field on Friday. | JAMIE COTTRELL / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Ross Gilham-Jones’s sales pitch to Temple University’s field hockey coach Marybeth Freeman was convincing. So much so, Freeman wanted to buy the sticks and hire Gilham-Jones to be part of the team.

In November 2017, Gilham-Jones moved to Philadelphia and reached out to colleges in the area in hopes of selling sticks for Jamie Dwyer Hockey, an Australian equipment company with gear designed by Dwyer, a five-time International Hockey Federation player of the year winner. Gilham-Jones played with Dwyer during his field hockey career in Australia.

That pitch also landed Gilham-Jones a spot on Temple’s coaching staff, the team announced on Sept. 18.

“[Freeman] mentioned that someone was leaving, and there was a vacancy opening up and asked if I would be interested in the role,” Gilham-Jones said. “That’s what one of my goals has always been, to coach in the college system in America.”

Freeman said he liked Gilham-Jones’s character and his passion for field hockey. She added he was her top choice to be an assistant coach if the position was vacant. 

Temple replaced both of its assistant coaches after Roz Ellis returned to her alma mater, the University of Iowa, as assistant coach, and Katie Gerzabek took the same role at Syracuse University.

The Owls hired former UConn and Quinnipiac University forward and midfielder Montana Fleming in May, but the team entered the season with an unfilled assistant coach spot.

Gilham-Jones brings an attack-minded approach to the game and can make an immediate impact on the progression of Temple’s program, Freeman said.

He primarily works with the forwards and provided a boost to production for the Owls’ offense in the two games since he was hired.

Temple (2-6, 0-1 Big East Conference) scored seven goals in six games before Gilham-Jones arrived. In their past two games, the Owls netted four goals. 

“His impact has been great,” sophomore midfielder Taylor Alba said. “He holds us very accountable. We’ve really been focusing on our forward movement, from the midfield back to the forwards. I think it’s just going to improve from here on out, and I’m looking forward to it.”

“To have an individual like Ross balance our staff, it’s great,” Freeman said. “His way to convey ideas effectively and to share his passion on a daily basis so far, it’s been really amazing to watch. The players are going to benefit from having him.”

Born in England, Gilham-Jones grew up playing field hockey at the youth and professional levels and made it onto Britain’s 2016 Rio Summer Olympics team. He suffered an injury before the Olympics which prohibited him from traveling with the team. 

Recently, Gilham-Jones worked with the WC Eagles, a club team based in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, that feeds players to college programs in the area.

“The girls are amazing,” Gilham-Jones said. “[Freeman] has me in some great shape and it’s exciting to see what the rest of the season brings.”

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