December 13, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL FIELD HOCKEY COACH OF THE YEAR: Holly Daigle

Coach helped Rams turn things around

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

There hasn’t been a run of state championships, but Cony field hockey has a history of being a strong program. Last season was one of the most difficult ones. The Rams finished 3-9-3, they were graduating a talented goalie who kept them close in many games, and their best player was thinking about not coming back for her junior season.

“It was frustrating,” Cony coach Holly Daigle admitted. “We were working on executing things in practice, but it just ... I don’t know. I think it took a while to get into a groove, and I don’t think we ever got to the point where we wanted to.”

Cony got back on track this season, finishing 7-6-1 in the regular season and losing a close quarterfinal game with Mt. Blue. Daigle is the choice as the Kennebec Journal Field Hockey Coach of the Year. Winthrop’s Jess Merrill and Gardiner’s Moe McNally were also considered.

“There was really strong team morale that we had right from preseason,” Daigle said. “Each game and practice, the girls had a lot of communication and input with each other.”

Star midfielder/forward Arika Brochu had thought about quitting field hockey, but decided to play two days before preseason began. Brochu indicated that Daigle had a big part in the team’s togetherness.

“We had a lot of new faces,” Brochu said. “She came up with a lot of new ideas, so we could get close right from the start.”

Daigle noticed another difference this fall.

“To lose nine games, that’s tough, and I think we kind of tend to hold onto that,” she said. “This year, we didn’t dwell on some of those losses.”

“I never, ever heard her say one thing negative all season,” Brochu said. “She motivates so much, whether it’s in school, outside of school — she loves to hear about anyone’s accomplishments.”

This season, Daigle was pregnant with her second child, Miles, who was born Oct. 4. She said her support network made it appealing to continue as a coach.

“I love (coaching), and the players and the families have been so supportive,” Daigle said. “My husband is amazing, and is very supportive of me coaching, and we were able to make it work. The girls adore my daughter, Addie, who’s 2. They like her coming to practice. That really means a lot to me.”

After Miles was born, Daigle turned the coaching over to assistant Al Brochu (Arika’s father). Daigle missed the last four games, but was able to attend three of them as a fan.

“Having a great assistant coach makes a huge difference, and takes a lot of the stress off,” Daigle said. “He knows the game, obviously. He was really valuable in making what could have been a tough season rewarding for me.”

When Daigle looked back on the 2012 season, it was with frustration. When she looks ahead to the 2014 season, it’s with excitement.

“There’s a big freshman class coming in, which is really exciting,” she said. “The girls are really excited to make improvements, and build off the improvements from this year. I’m really excited moving forward.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243mdifilippo@centralmaine.comTwitter: @Matt_DiFilippo
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