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Coach's Field Hockey Practices Run Like a Democracy

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Copyright 2013 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
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The Philadelphia Inquirer
October 3, 2013 Thursday
CITY-D Edition
LOCAL NEWS SPORTS; Inq High School Sports; Pg. D09
548 words
Players have input at Owen J. Roberts
By Joey Cranney; Inquirer Staff Writer

After Owen J. Roberts' season-opening loss to Penn Manor in field hockey, the Wildcats held a meeting in which they sat down, took out pen and paper, and wrote down everything that had gone wrong.

"We talked about it," coach Clarence Jenelle said. "[The players] gave their ideas. I gave mine. I put them into drills for the next day. They needed to buy into what we needed to do. Now, we have a set pattern."

An Owen J. Roberts practice is structured like a field hockey democracy. There's a meeting before every practice in which coaches and players set goals for the day. The players mostly run the practice. They choose how long the drills last and alert the coach when they need more time to work on something.

"I say this is what I want to do and they say, can we cut this because we want to do this other thing?" said Jenelle, whose Wildcats (10-3 overall, 9-0 league entering Wednesday night's action) sit in first place in the Pioneer Athletic Conference's Liberty Division.

The system has been in place since 2008, the year that the community starting buying into the field hockey program, Jenelle said. Parents stopped complaining that their children weren't getting enough playing time, and girls started committing themselves to playing field hockey year-round.

In 2008, the number of Wildcats playing club field hockey doubled from the previous year, and it has continued to increase each year. Now, only a handful of girls on the team aren't involved in one of the area's major club teams.

"We really became a family from 2008 until now," Jenelle said. "The [parents] come in and say, 'What can we do?' The kids . . . when I say jump, they don't even ask how high - they just do it."

Now the Wildcats hope they can take the next step. Jenelle's team is undefeated in the PAC-10 and has suffered losses in nonleague games only against three of the best teams in the state.

Owen J. Roberts lost the season opener, 4-1, at Penn Manor, a state finalist in PIAA Class AAA last year. The Wildcats lost, 1-0, at Twin Valley, a 2012 state quarterfinalist, on Sept. 7, and also lost by 1-0 to Oley Valley, a 2012 Class AA quarterfinalist, on Sept. 14.

This weekend, Owen J. Roberts has a PAC-10 game against Spring-Ford on Friday before hosting 10-time state champion Emmaus on Saturday. The Wildcats have a balanced scoring attack led by senior forwards Emma Christman and Elizabeth Karcewski. In the cage, Lizzy Tamburro and Ally Mooney are "close to being the two best goalies in the PAC-10," their coach said.

The matchup with Emmaus is the last game in the Wildcats' treacherous nonleague schedule. Jenelle has scheduled a game against the perennial powerhouse every year since 2009, and Owen J. Roberts has yet to win.

"You don't get better unless you play teams that are better than you are," Jenelle said.

Inter-Ac elite. The Inter-Ac League is setting up to be a two-horse race, as expected. Notre Dame and Episcopal Academy, the class of the league, are 8-0 and 9-0, respectively. The two teams will meet for the first time this season next Tuesday.

Rolling along. Plymouth Whitemarsh is 8-0 in the Suburban One League American Conference and 10-1 overall. The Colonials suffered their only loss in overtime to Haverford High on Sept. 21.

jcranney@philly.com

@joey_cranney

October 3, 2013

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