Sherry Webb, Aurora Rougeau Headed for Mount Holyoke College Field Hockey
By: Bill Wells, Springfield Republican
SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (April 13, 2011) - The local look for the Mount Holyoke College field hockey team just got a lot bigger and better, on the field and on the sidelines.
Longtime Smith Academy field hockey coach Sherry Webb has been hired as an assistant coach for the Lyons.
Webb coached her last of 37 seasons for Smith Academy in November when her Falcons lost to Rougeau, ironically, in the Western Massachusetts Division II final. She's set to retire from her teaching and athletic director positions at the Hatfield school at the end of this school year.
"I wanted to stay involved in field hockey, and I couldn't imagine coaching against my kids at Smith Academy," said Webb, 60. "It will be very, very nice to be a part of that program."
"We've been talking about it a little bit. This seems like a really good fit at a really good time. I like Andy's coaching style, and our coaching styles should mesh really well. A lot of people find it shocking that I could be an assistant, but I'm looking forward to that sort of duty."
And Whitcomb, who has coached Mount Holyoke for 13 seasons, is looking forward to having Webb on her staff.
"Sherry's wealth of field hockey knowledge is incontrovertible, and the impact that she will have on our program will be immediate," said Whitcomb, whose team finished 11-6 last season. "I have known Sherry for many years, and we have very similar coaching philosophies and styles. I think it will be a win-win for both of us."
"Additionally, Sherry is very familiar with several of our players, as we boast many local athletes. Either they played for her at Smith Academy, played against her or were coached by her at the club level. Each of those athletes is very excited that Sherry will be joining us in the fall. We have high hopes for this coming season, and adding Sherry Webb to the coaching staff only amplifies those expectations."
One of Webb's best players in recent years, Stephanie Slysz, is a first year for Mount Holyoke, and former Falcon Jamie Allen has transferred from the University of Vermont to join the Lyons.
Rougeau, 18, of Florida, will join a Mount Holyoke lineup that already includes seven local players. The powerful center midfielder owns an impressive resume, having competed in the Best 60 Games, National Festival Disney Showcase and Bay State Games. She's also a high honors student.
"First thing, I fell in love with the campus," Rougeau said. "Second, I really loved the Five College Consortium. I'm not sure what I want to major in, so it gives me a lot of possibilities. That was a big factor."
Field hockey-wise, Rougeau said she and Whitcomb "clicked right away. And the girls were very inviting, and the team had a really good sense of commitment."
Rougeau was aware Webb had been hired, and said that was "a huge plus. I've always been a huge fan of Sherry Webb, and I've always wanted to be under her coaching, so I could see what would happen."
Skidmore, Sacred Heart and Wesleyan were also on Rougeau's short list of schools. Rougeau, one of the area's top shot put throwers, may also join the track team at Mount Holyoke.
Retired from Smith Academy, Sherry Webb Will Now Coach at Mount Holyoke
By: Jim Pignatiello, Daily Hampshire Gazette
Sherry Webb didn't leave field hockey for long.
After 37 years, Webb coached her final game at Smith Academy in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament finals in November.
Now she's decided to take a job working for Andy Whitcomb as an assistant coach for the Mount Holyoke College field hockey team.
"When I decided to retire, I hadn't considered" coaching in college, said Webb, 60, Smith Academy's athletic director who will retire from that post in October. "But if someone steps forward and makes that offer to you, it seems like such a terrific opportunity. I couldn't pass it up."
Webb said she had also received offers from other programs, but felt the Lyons were the best fit.
"I like the level of attention given to academics," she said. "I like the fact that Andy and I are compatible with our coaching style."
Whitcomb and Webb had a heart-to-heart about how things would work with both of them on the sidelines before finally agreeing that they could do it.
"We talked long and hard and it didn't take long to come to the conclusion that we could make it work pretty easily," said Whitcomb, who is preparing for her 14th year coaching MHC.
"It would be crazy for me to pass up the opportunity to have someone with that knowledge of the game and the repartee that she already has with many of the players on the team."
As a longtime teacher, athletic director and head coach for multiple teams, Webb said she was looking forward to not being the person in charge for a change.
"People have told me they can't see me as an assistant, but I'm looking forward to it," Webb said. "I'm not going to have the kinds of responsibilities that sometimes takes the fun out of the position. I'll have all the fun stuff and none of the heavy-duty stuff."
The fall will feature a bit of a reunion for Webb and two 2010 Smith Academy alums. Current MHC freshman Steph Slysz will be joined by Jaime Allen, who is transferring to Mount Holyoke from the University of Vermont.
"It's going to be a lot of fun to have the three of us back together," Webb said.
The squad went 11-6 last year and features a strong group of returning players.
"We definitely have higher expectations than we've had in a very long time," said Whitcomb, who counts the addition of Webb as another reason for continued optimism in the program.
She added, "I think with Sherry, the key wasn't money or the silly stuff. She just wanted a hand in coaching field hockey again. She loves the game."
Photos courtesy of Masslive.com.