Who said this was the offseason?
First came the announcement of the new UC Davis field hockey stadium (expected to debut in August).
Then Tiffany Huisman came to town, named the Aggies’ new head coach.
Shortly thereafter, her new squad — just weeks into a system that employs a relentless attack — tied California in a spring outing.
Meanwhile, as Huisman was getting to know her existing players, she was announcing six new sticks coming to campus this summer.
“What brought me to Davis?” the former Olympian and two-time All-American repeated the question. “Obviously the field hockey program and the school …
“But I have a young family. I have 1- and 3-year old girls. The community was a huge factor in choosing Davis.”
A veteran of more than 100 international matches, Huisman is an Old Dominion University grad who most recently was head coach at her alma mater, San Pasqual High (Escondido).
A member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic field hockey squad in Beijing, Huisman was the NCAA’s 2002 Collegiate Player of the Year.
“Tiffany is a field hockey veteran whose experience at all levels of the sport will help our program continue to grow,” says UCD athletic director Terry Tumey. “Having been a highly successful student-athlete herself, she knows what it takes to lead others along the same path, and we’re fortunate to have her bring that vision to UC Davis.”
After the Aggies went 8-12 under then-interim coach Austin Pile, the locals finished second among NorPac West Division schools. Pile led UCD to wins over Stanford and Cal.
For his efforts, Pile has been retained as Huisman’s assistant.
But now the pace quickens. The new, full-size field hockey facility has a water-based synthetic turf that will allow for a faster game, not to mention the new coach already wants that up-tempo, attack style.
Huisman says getting to know her women’s abilities is top priority, adding, at first blush, her inherited Aggies are “a solid group of girls (who) I think I can position well.”
That first spring game with Cal was “a good indicator.”
“We were playing chess with the personnel, putting the women in different spots,” Huisman told The Enterprise. “I think the girls like the system we’ve started to implement.
“My biggest focus with the girls is fundamentals. You have to build a foundation before you can build a house.”
Four of UCD’s top five scorers — Stephanie Sabraw, Jamie Garcia, Danielle Koehne and Sophie Lisaius — are due back from last year. Garcia was a former standout at Fallbrook High and Sabraw lit up the nets at Torrey Pines High, so Huisman knows of that duo and a couple other San Diego-area Davis players.
Of the incoming class (which Huisman had no hand in recruiting), Madison Cohen (also Torrey Pines), Vista native Kelley Kramer and San Diego’s Kate Young are players that Huisman says she’s familiar with and is looking forward to having join the fold.
Pennsylvania native Makheila MacDonald (a goalkeeper), Briana Sooy (Archbishop Mitty High) and Nica Taglieri (Huntington Beach) are the other recruits who signed National Letters of Intent at UCD.
So where is everybody in this whirlwind couple of months?
“I tell the girls every day … it’s just about competing right now,” says the 32-year-old coach. “It’s not about winning. Take that word out of their vocabularies. It’s about going hard and going after it every day — then we’re moving forward as a team and those wins will come.”
Notes: Huisman’s husband Aaron is a fightfighter/paramedic in the San Diego area. Huisman says her husband hasn’t relocated “yet,” but her daughters are with her and she’s gotten great help from her mother-in-law and mother in settling in. “It’s good (for her daughters) to see Mom working,” Huisman explains, adding she thinks it’s good for her players to see both sides, too. “To see that you can be a successful woman and still have a family and be able to balance life. I think it’s important that the girls see that balance and the benefits of that balance.” … Oh, and one more juggling act, according to the new coach: “I look forward to building a strong foundation which encourages our student-athletes to thrive while providing a balance between field hockey and academics in order to be successful both on the field and in the classroom.” … Huisman was an assistant coach at Boston University (2003-07).
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-320-4456.