Content Courtesy of Philafieldhockey.com
Philafieldhockey’s Kathleen Simone caught up with JaJa Kentwell, who will take the reigns of the Conestoga field hockey program this fall. The Pioneers had another banner season in 2017, finishing undefeated in the Central League and moving on to the finals of District One playoffs. The team also advanced to the PIAA AAA state quarterfinals.
Kentwell brings a wealth of high-level playing and coaching experience to Conestoga. He’s served as a coach at WC Eagles FHC, alongside his parents Richard and Jun Kentwell, since 2008. There, Kentwell has been instrumental in maintaining WC Eagles’ position as one of the very top clubs nationwide; the club finished #1 in every division — U14, U16 and U19 — at the USA Field Hockey National Club Championships earlier this summer. Kentwell also serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the USA Field Hockey’s Women’s Women’s Indoor National Team (2016-present) and an East Coast High Performance Men’s coach (2016 – Present). He also possesses both college and high school coaching experience at the University of Delaware (2011), Old Dominion University (2010) and Phoenixville High School (2016).
Kentwell, an active player on the international stage, was named to the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2017. He had been a part of the U.S. Junior National Team since 2006. Kentwell’s world championship experience includes: Gold – 2018 Hockey Series Open (Salamanca, Mexico); Gold – 2008 Pan American Indoor Championship (San Juan, Argentina); Silver – 2014 Pan American Indoor Championship (Montevideo, Uruguay); Silver – 2010 Pan American Indoor Championship (Barquisimeto, Venezuela); Bronze – 2017 Pan American Cup (Lancaster, Pa.; Kentwell’s best field hockey memory); 4th – 2012 Junior Pan American Championship (Guadalajara, Mexico) and 5th – 2018 5 Nations Tournament (Malaga, Spain).
Other career highlights include: 2018: Europe Tour (France, Spain, Scotland, Ireland); 2017: Joined the U.S. Men’s National Team , Series against France (Paris, France); 2012: Test Series with Canada (3 matches) and Chile (3 matches) with Junior USMNT; 2011: New Zealand Tour with Junior USMNT; 2008: Named to the U.S. U-21 Men’s National Team and 2006: Named to the U.S. U-16 Men’s National Team.
More from JaJa:
Share your thoughts on being appointed the Conestoga head coach: “I was just hired a couple weeks ago. We’re way behind schedule in terms of preparation for the season. I’m looking forward to seeing all the girls at tryouts and seeing what I’m working with.”
Why was this position appealing? “There are lot of development opportunities to make this program successful.”
What do you think you can bring to the program? “Building a good grass root pipeline that filters players into Conestoga and hopefully some are lucky enough to represent the USA at the junior or senior level.”
What are your short-term goals for this season? “Again, I was just hired 2 weeks ago so I haven’t seen the team yet. Come pee-season I’ll have a better idea, but with having so many seniors having graduated last year I’m hoping to do as well as last year.”
What are your long-term goals for the program? “In three or four years, to consistently be in the later rounds of playoffs.”
How will you go about achieving these goals? “Getting more people involved in club hockey at the younger age groups will help. Developing these players so that when they enter high school they have a strong foundation of basic skills. Currently, fitness going into pre-season is not great; hopefully changing the culture of trying to get fit at pre-season to one of being fit going into pre-season.”
What do you consider your coaching philosophy, style and strengths? “My philosophy: preparation and work ethic. My style is very structured. Any my style: developing players.”