BRISTOL — Following in the footsteps of a coach who led the program for three decades and racked up 11 state titles over the past 21 years, including four in a row through 2021, offers a challenge for anyone taking the raises.
What if the coach of this dynasty was also your mother?
That’s the role — and the challenge — that Mount Abraham Union High School’s new field hockey coach, Jen Stetson Myers, has taken on.
Of course, she succeeds Mary Stetson. Mary, along with Jen Myers’ father – longtime baseball coach Jeff Stetson – retired together this spring after a combined 70 years of coaching. Mary Stetson’s Division II teams compiled a record of 279-150-64 against a mostly Division I schedule. Both Stetsons are in the Vermont Principals’ Association Hall of Fame.
Jen Myers helped improve her mother’s record: She started as an Eagles centre-back between 2001 and 2005, when the Eagles won four straight titles, and has helped the program since 2012. Myers’ footsteps have followed those of his mother for long periods of Stetson’s career.
Perhaps because of all that shared experience, Myers said she didn’t feel pressured to put her own stamp on Mount Abe’s field hockey quickly.
“I certainly don’t feel any pressure to do it. I feel grateful to have inherited a really solid program that people really believe in and that is really strongly supported. Because it makes your job a little easier,” she said.
“As time goes by and it’s really about getting the right jobs, it’s those tough decisions that you have to make sometimes, those are the things that will chart my own path.” But for now, I’m just grateful because I feel like I couldn’t have inherited a better program.
In fact, there’s a lot of her mother’s approach that she would like to emulate.
“Mom always had such great energy, and I hope to keep that energy going because I think kids are looking to feed off of your energy,” Myers said.
“She always had such a positive energy that she always gave off: no matter the score, these are the things that we can do, that we know how to do, and continue 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 that stuff, the mindset.
After graduating from Mount Abe in 2006, Myers became a four-year starter in defense for St. Lawrence University, graduating in 2010. She didn’t want to coach afterward, but the program manager for Middlebury College field hockey player, Katharine DeLorenzo, offered him a chance to help, and Myers couldn’t say no.
“I vividly remember being, like, ‘This (coaching) isn’t for me.’ I wanted to get involved in field hockey in some way, but once I was done in St. Lawrence, I didn’t know what that involvement would be,” Myers said. “And then Katharine DeLorenzo gave me a great opportunity.”
She stayed with the Panthers through 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’s what really got me thinking, ‘This is where we’re going,'” Myers said.
When Myers was hired as Bristol City Clerk/Treasurer in 2011 and felt she couldn’t commit 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’ role expanded over the next two years. Bristol officials gave her the opportunity to do more, for which she remains grateful.
A year ago, Jeff and Mary Stetson, who stepped down as co-athletic directors several years ago, announced that the 2021-22 academic year would be their final seasons at the helm of their programs.
It was no surprise that Myers was hired as the new field hockey coach, although she had mixed feelings.
“It was always a discussion. Mom was, like, when you take the program, you can do this, or you will do that,” 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 with you for as long as you want to.’
Stetson might offer advice from time to time.
“She’s not far away. I’ve already called, ‘What did you do about it, and what did you do about it?’ “said Myers.
Or the bracket could take on a different look. Myers now works from home for the Vermont Department of Taxation’s Property Assessment Division and may switch time to become a head coach, but she and her husband Matt Myers have three children.
“I think she’s trying to navigate — I think we’re both trying to navigate — the double-edged way,” Myers said. “I think she wants to be a supporter in any way she can, and in her mind that could be me calling at two and saying, ‘Hey, Matt can’t have the kids. Can you pick up the kids today? »
Does this mean there will be no post-match debriefing?
“Well, I occasionally text about this or that,” Myers admitted. “It’s his way of supporting me right now, and I’m really grateful to him for that.”
The new coach will bring at least some minor changes.
“Mom was really working on the fitness in the exercises. And I kind of went old school, we go running to get in shape and then we do exercises,” Myers said. “But there are no big changes. Same style of play. We were on the same page about most things anyway.
In the long run, Myers said she understands those steps she follows are made of big shoes.
“People respect her so much as a coach, not just in the field hockey world, but as a coach in the coaching world,” she said. “Those are goals, to be the next person for this program, for female athletes. The relationship she builds with the players shows.
Of course, the Eagles just finished an outstanding half-dozen senior class that helped the program win those four straight titles through 2021, and for the first time in a few seasons they might not be the favorite. D-II.
“That’s a great goal to have, isn’t it?” said Myers. “The chase is on.”