Back when she was playing field hockey for Rocky Point High School, Jenna Stevenson couldn’t have imagined that one day she would be coaching one of the Eagles’ fiercest rivals, Shoreham-Wading River. But there she was on Monday, running the Wildcats through their first preseason practices.
It’s a small field hockey world after all.
“We were definitely rivals, so that’s funny,” said Stevenson, who has traded in the Carolina blue of Rocky Point for Shoreham’s navy blue and gold.
“She switched sides,” senior sweeper Michelle Steimel said. “She thought we were better.”
After graduating from Rocky Point in 2013, Stevenson, who was a forward and midfielder, played three years for Dowling College and then one year for Molloy College after Dowling closed. Her current assistant coach, Ariana Ovaida, played with her those years at Dowling and Molloy. What’s more, former Molloy assistant coach Mallory Guerin is the SWR junior varsity coach.
It truly is a small field hockey world.
Stevenson is SWR’s third coach in four years. She succeeds Allie Franklin, who has left to take a job in New Hampshire. The Wildcats went 15-14 in their two years under Franklin.
“It’s very exciting,” Stevenson said of her first varsity coaching job. “I just finished up [playing] field hockey, so it’s nice to get to continue it. I would miss it if I wasn’t around it.”
Stevenson said that as a player she was nervous when preseason began. As a coach, though, she said she is excited.
“I’m excited,” she said. “I can’t wait [for the season to start]. You know, I’ve always known Shoreham to be a really good program since I played against them … They were the program to beat, definitely.”
For the players, having a new coach is akin to having a new boss.
“Going into it was kind of like scary because you don’t know what to expect, but it’s good,” said senior defender Campbell Brant. Brant said Stevenson “seems like she wants to dive in head first and just really get into our skills and working on everything as a team.”
SWR graduated six seniors from last year but Brant said, “We have a lot of talent coming up from the middle school and a lot of girls returning, so it looks very promising.”
Strange as it may sound, those words are music to the ears of a former Rocky Point player.
Photo caption: Jenna Stevenson, a former Rocky Point player, is Shoreham-Wading River’s third coach in four years. (Credit: Bob Liepa)