"You don't rebuild; you reload."
Every year there is an opportunity to write a new script on an old tablet. Each year brings a new team, challenges and hardships. The difference between a good coach and a great one may seem subtle, but the countless hours of preparation by the coaching staff that are unseen to the public eye, can set a program a part.
In Watertown, Mass., the Red Raiders high school field hockey team takes pride in deep-rooted tradition. Head coach Eileen Donahue, who is in her 28th year of coaching Watertown, has laid a foundation. Under Donahue the program has achieved 13 state championships and 20 Division Two North sectional championships.
Tuesday, September 11 marked an important tally in the wins column of Raiders' book when the program earned its 91st win over a 5 year campaign. Their record stands at 91-0-3, giving them four state championships in a row and the new Massachusetts State record for the most consecutively unbeaten games played. Tuesday's win not only broke the all-time record for games without a loss but it also made a mark on her lifetime of coaching. Donahue’s overall record with the Red Raiders is 539-30-45.
"Obviously I am very proud of all of the players that I have had in the past five years,” said Donahue. “Every single one of them, as well as all of the coaches over that time, contributed to this record."
Donahue has never looked back on the successes and solely focuses on what is next. She stresses to her team that each year brings a new squad, new mission and new goals. No one team is alike.
Here are five traits from Donahue that define her program:
Hard work - "You cannot strive for success without hard work. Do your job and expect more of yourself."
Leadership - "I strive for each person to be an extension of my leadership. I want them to be empowered to make decisions and lead each other. Many times, this is a long process."
Toughness - “Always demand more of yourself and your teammates. It’s not about yelling; it’s about caring. I try to get a little more out of each athlete; there’s always a little bit more to give. I’ll let the player know when they're wrong, but I’ll also be the first to tell you when you’re doing something right."
Basics - "We repeat skills over and over. Players have to be disciplined and focused. There's an expectation to do the skills the right way."
Team - “It is simple, it is all about the team. Always fight for your team.”