continued “More than anything, it's a credit to the kids that come out to the field every day,” Carroll said. “They feel a responsibility to continue with the tradition so they just take a lot of ownership of that.”
The unified, “seventh-through-12th (grade) mentality” starts with Carroll and spreads quickly through the players. From her comes demand for politeness and respect through practice and games, right down to the ‘family lap’ that the whole team jogs together after each practice.
“You’re part of the Cazenovia field hockey family,” Carroll said. “Everyone’s a part of it. Whether you’re the leading scorer or not, you are important as long as you’re treating each other with respect.”
Part of the widespread success can be credited to the patience and matching philosophies of both Carroll and Scheftic. In their 13 seasons working together, only two eighth-graders have been called up to junior varsity.
Carroll and Scheftic believe that for a player to be ready to success at the varsity level, it’s crucial to experience success at the modified level first. Also, keeping core groups of players together helps develop chemistry and fluency.
“We've had some kids really expand their experiences beyond the school years,” Carroll said.
In addition to obliterating her modified competition in the last decade-plus, Carroll has installed the “Firecracker” recreational program, designed to offer fourth to sixth-grade girls a chance to learn field hockey at an early age. It also allows Carroll and the other Caz coaches to work with players before most other schools start.
And with the established close-knit environment, many current Caz players help with the camp too. Carroll said two of the senior captains from this year’s varsity team regularly referee and instruct for the youth program.
“There’s a real sense of loyalty and giving back and I think that’s really cool,” Carroll said. “I feel lucky that this is the group of kids that I get to coach and we get to have these great kids come out for this sport and carry on this tradition.”
Next year, Carroll hopes that tradition will continue. She coached her daughter for the last two years, but the two will practice separately in 2013 as the well-oiled modified-JV-varsity cycle continues to roll along.