Sports

Myers takes over Eagle field hockey team — from Mom

JEN MYERS IS the new Mount Abe field hockey coach, taking over for her mom, Mary Stetson, who won 11 D-II titles and 279 games in a storied career. Myers helped the Eagles win four of those titles as a player and five as an assistant coach.
Independent photo/Steve James

BRISTOL — Following in the footsteps of a coach who led the program for three decades and racked up 11 state titles in the past 21 years, including four straight through 2021, offers a challenge for whoever takes over.

What if the coach of that dynasty was also your mother?

That’s the role — and the challenge — that new Mount Abraham Union High School field hockey Coach Jen Stetson Myers has accepted.

She, of course, takes over for Mary Stetson. Mary, along with Jen Myers’s father — successful longtime Eagle baseball coach Jeff Stetson — retired together this spring after 70 combined years of coaching. Mary Stetson’s Division II teams compiled a 279-150-64 record against a mostly Division I schedule. Both Stetsons are in the Vermont Principals’ Association Hall of Fame.

Jen Myers helped boost her mom’s record: She started as an Eagle central defender between 2001 and 2005, when the Eagles won four straight titles, and has assisted the program since 2012. Myers’s footsteps run next to her mother’s for long stretches of Stetson’s career.

Maybe because of all that shared experience, Myers said she doesn’t feel compelled to quickly put her own stamp on Mount Abe field hockey.

“I’m definitely not feeling any pressure to do that. I’m feeling grateful that I’ve inherited a really strong program that people really believe in and is really strongly supported. Because it just makes your job a little bit easier,” she said.

“As time goes and it’s really figuring out the right jobs, it’s those tough decisions that sometimes you have to make, it’s those things that will carve my own path. But for right now, I’m just grateful because I feel like I couldn’t have inherited a better program.”

In fact, there’s much of her mother’s approach she’d like to emulate.

“Mom always had such great energy, and I hope to keep that energy because I think the kids look to feed off your energy,” Myers said.

“She always had such a positive energy that she always gave off: It doesn’t matter what the score is, these are the things that we can do, that we know how to do, and just continuing to focus on the good things that are happening. And let’s change the things that aren’t working to make them work. Just focusing on those types of things, the mindset.”

UNPLANNED CAREER

After graduated from Mount Abe in 2006, Myers became a four-year starter on defense for St. Lawrence University, earning her degree in 2010. She didn’t want to coach afterward, but Middlebury College field hockey program head Katharine DeLorenzo offered her a chance to assist, and Myers couldn’t say no.

“I can vividly remember being, like, ‘It (coaching) is not for me.’ I wanted to be involved somehow in field hockey, but once I got done at St. Lawrence, I didn’t know what that involvement was going to be,” Myers said. “And then Katharine DeLorenzo gave me a great opportunity.”

She stayed with the Panthers for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, long enough to get hooked on coaching.

“It was so much fun, and I learned so much from her. And that was what really triggered me to be like, ‘This is where we’re headed,’” Myers said.

When Myers was hired as the Bristol town clerk/treasurer in 2011 and felt like she couldn’t make the commitment to the college program, Mary Stetson spoke up.

“Mom said, ‘If you want to help, the door is always open,’” Myers said.

After working as a part-time assistant in 2012, Myers’s role grew over the next couple years. Bristol officials allowing her the flexibility to do more, for which she remains grateful.

NEW EAGLE FIELD hockey head coach Jen Myers exhorts her team during a Monday home scrimmage vs. Bellows Falls. Myers — who took over the program from her mother and longtime successful program head, Mary Stetson —  has a vocal, energetic sideline presence.
Independent photo/Steve James

TAKING OVER

A year ago, Jeff and Mary Stetson, who had stepped down as co-athletic directors several years ago, announced the 2021-2022 academic year would be their last seasons leading their programs.

It wasn’t a surprise Myers was hired as the new field hockey coach, though she has mixed feelings.

“It’s always been a discussion. Mom was, like, when you take the program over you can do this, or you’ll do this,” she said. “I loved doing this together. It wasn’t, ‘It’s time for you to go, Mom.’ It was, ‘I want you to stay, because I want to do this together with you as long as you want to do it.’”

Stetson might offer advice every now and then.

“She’s not far. I’ve already called: ‘What did you do about this, and what did you do about this?’” Myers said.

Or the support could take a different look. Myers now works at home for the Vermont Department of Taxes’ Property Evaluation Division and can time-shift to be a head coach, but she and husband Matt Myers have three children.

“I think she’s trying to navigate — I think we’re both trying to navigate — the double path,” Myers said. “I think she wants to be a supporter any way she can, and in her mind that might be me calling at two o’clock and saying, ‘Hey, Matt can’t get the kids. Can you get the kids today?”

Does that mean there won’t be post-game debriefings?

“Well, I do send the occasional text about this or that,” Myers admitted. “That’s her way of supporting me right now, and I’m really grateful.”

The new coach will make at least some minor changes.

“Mom was really into working fitness into drills. And I’ve kind of gone old school, we’re going to run to get fit, and then we’ll do drills,” Myers said. “But there are not huge changes. Same style of play. We were on the same page as far as most of that went anyway.”

In the long run, Myers said she understands those footsteps she follows were made by big shoes.

“People respect her so much as a female coach, not only in the field hockey world, but as a female coach in the coaching world,” she said. “Those are goals, to be that next person for this program, for female athletes. The relationship she builds with players just shows.”

Of course, the Eagles just graduated an outstanding senior class of a half-dozen that helped the program win those four straight titles through 2021, and for the first time in a couple seasons they might not be the D-II favorite.

“It’s a great goal to have, right?” Myers said. “The chase is on.”

Share this story:

More News
Sports

MUHS boys’ tennis wins D-I title

Singles drama wraps up championship run as Tiger crew claims first D-I title in this sport … (read more)

Sports

Eagle baseball makes finals date

The Mount Abraham baseball team is going to the Division II championship contest for the f … (read more)

Sports

Tiger boys’ lacrosse eyes title (UPDATED)

The second-seeded Middlebury Union High School boys’ lacrosse team on Tuesday advanced to … (read more)

Share this story: