YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y.— Bernadette Gannon will have her hands full in her second season as Yorktown head coach. The Huskers enjoyed an encouraging 9-7 campaign last year, but will graduate 10 seniors from the successful squad.
Gannon, however, has her team prepared for the departures. The four-time Section 1 Coach of the Year was experienced enough to have her seniors impart their wisdom on a new core before they left.
Yorktown’s four senior captains last year, Caileigh Lampersberger, Catherine Calidonna, Sara Mongno and Amanda Frederick, focused on training three key juniors so they would be ready to take over the reins. Now seniors, Olivia Sanchez and the Gammer twins — Natalie and Lauren — will be expected to lead the Huskers.
“I’m very confident in the core group that we have,” Gannon said. “They worked very hard with the girls who we had last year, and those seniors last year knew that their job was to teach the younger kids how to play as a team, so that when they stepped off, their footsteps were filled. I had a phenomenal group of seniors last year, and they took that job very seriously.”
Natalie Gammer, a forward, and Sanchez, the goalkeeper, have already been named captains. Both players were a large part of the Huskers’ success last season, and will be expected to step up even further. Natalie says the transition will not be easy, but Yorktown will be ready.
“Losing 10 seniors that were mostly all starters is definitely a big loss,” she said. “The biggest challenge is filling in their spots and rebuilding those connections that were essential to making successful plays. We lost many great players, but we still have another great season ahead of us.”
Lauren Gammer will anchor the defense in front of Sanchez, and will be tasked with ushering in a younger back line: juniors Julia Wurzel, McKenna Duff and Stephanie Gridley. In the midfield, juniors Caroline Garti and Kaite Vogel will step into more central roles.
Due to the substantial losses, Yorktown may be expected to take a step back this year. But Gannon’s unique coaching background gives her an advantage. Gannon has seen the highs and lows of field hockey, from a 2012 section championship with Suffern to two winless seasons with Clarkstown North in 2013 and 2014.
“I’m a better coach because of it,” Gannon said. “I had to readjust how I think, and I learned how to focus on other things than wins. It’s often the little things, the individual improvements in the kids. If you focus on personal development instead of results, those individual skills build team skills.”
Natalie Gammer noted the experience of her coach and praised Gannon’s ability to develop a player’s fundamental skills. With that ground-up approach, the Huskers might just be able to succeed in the transition and rebuilding process that comes with losing 10 seniors.
Yorktown will open its season at Somers at 4 p.m. on Sept. 2, in the annual Somers Tournament.