Newly hired hockey assistant coaches Sarah Dwyer and Chrissy Horn have taken over their roles within the Lehighs program, despite facing less than ideal conditions for anyone starting a new job.
The women, both hired at the end of August, are meeting two team needs following the departure of assistant coach Rachel Konowal and volunteer assistant coach Christopher Chookagian last year.
As both approach the end of their first semester as an assistant coach at Lehigh, Horn already has an additional year of coaching experience at her alma mater, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Dwyer, on the other hand, graduated from Boston College in May, after serving as the hockey teams’ goalkeeper for four years as well as being team captain in her final season.
Born in London, Horn was recruited to play hockey at Old Dominion, where she graduated in 2018 and worked as a volunteer coach last year. Head coach Caitlin Dallmeyer and her staff began talking with Horn in February about the opportunity for assistant coaching at Lehigh.
Dallmeyer said Horn was a pleasant surprise in the applicant pool as most of the potential candidates are usually from the area. She said that Horn’s willingness to move to Bethlehem indicated a keen interest in the position, and her decorated career as a star with Old Dominion, on top of her international experience playing for England’s U16 and U18 national teams. , the decision is a no-brainer.
We never had anyone on our staff with international playing experience, so we were really happy that she even agreed to come for an interview and she blew us away from that, so it was a really easy recruit for us, said Dallmeyer.
Dallmeyer also said the team was able to get Horn on campus for a face-to-face meeting just before college closed in March. Dallmeyer said that despite it being a short visit, the technical staff were able to contact her immediately.
Horn was also able to meet some players when she came to visit, and was immediately pleased with their attitude.
I met a few girls in February, but I didn’t really know the team, Horn said. It was a nice surprise how hospitable and respectful the girls were.
Dwyers’ journey to the Lehigh hockey program was a bit different from Horns’s. Dallmeyer and Dwyer met two summers ago in a specialized goalkeeper camp. Dallmeyer worked as a head coach while Dwyer worked in the camp as an assistant coach.
Almost immediately, Dallmeyer says she was overwhelmed by Dwyers’ attitude, enthusiasm and overall love for the game.
I loved her, said Dallmeyer. I loved her attitude towards the athletes she worked with, she really showed a lot of passion for the game and she had a lot of energy about her and how she interacted with others.
So overwhelmed, in fact, that Dallmeyer said she reached out to Dwyer herself and asked if she was interested in the role.
Soon, Dwyer, who was returning home from Boston College in March amid the COVID-19 outbreak at the time, decided the offer was the most ideal and safe for her, so she took it.
(Coach Dallmeyer) was so nice and genuine and made me feel like I came into a family, Dwyer said. In such a time of uncertainty, that really appealed to me the most, how open and caring they were about the whole process.
In an ordinary year, the team would have recently ended its regular season and may have been anchored in postseason play. Instead, Dwyer is based in New Jersey and Horn works remotely at her home in Virginia.
Then the Patriot League canceled all fall sports in July, the tech staff decided it wouldn’t be worth the cost of living to have Dwyer and Horn move to Bethlehem just to work from their home, Dallmeyer said.
While this was not ideal, as Dallmeyer pointed out, it managed that 10 players chose not to return to campus for the fall semester, effectively cutting the team in half between those who returned to school and those who did not. did. The team worked around this and came up with an effective system to maintain structure and routine.
We created a very specialized training program with Sarah and Chrissy to take care of those who were completely remote, Dallmeyer said. In this way (associate head coach) Taylor (Dyer) and I could focus on those athletes who were physically present, by training them and being able to interact with them face-to-face, Sarah and Chrissy would the needs of those who were completely at bay to keep them engaged and checked in.
Dallmeyer also said the summer preparation of the teams made all the difference in facilitating a smooth transition after Lehigh All fall sports ceased indefinitely on September 29.
While the Patriot League recently announced With plans for a basketball season starting in January, it is still unclear whether there will be a competitive hockey season in the spring semester of 2021. The team prepares thinking there will be one, but is well aware that nothing is certain.
Horn said she knows the team will be ready for whatever happens.
Whatever spring has in store for us, whether or not we could come back and play games that I think we were in a good place to tackle it all, Horn said.
While the current situation is not what Dwyer or Horn envisioned the season when they agreed to join the team earlier this year, they are both happy and grateful for the opportunity and look forward to more normalcy in the future.
Dallmeyer said she was impressed with her assistant coaches, and she also shares a desire to return to the game.
They were both a pleasure to work with, and I hope they eventually get the chance to work with them on the field, Dallmeyer said.