After fifteen seasons and ten District One playoff appearances, Avon Grove Head Coach, Sandy Leiti has left the position, having made her mark on the program and in many athletes’ hearts. Leiti wrapped up her career with a 155-109-23 record and earned Avon Grove Coach of the Year honors in the 2006-2007 and 2011-2012 seasons.
“I decided to step down so that I could watch my own children play for their school teams. My daughter will be in 7th grade and plays field hockey and lacrosse and my son will be in 5th and plays soccer, basketball and lacrosse,” said Leiti. “I’m a true believer that it’s important to have family support at the games and there is no way I would be able to make the majority of their fall games. Time goes by too fast and I will only have this opportunity once with my children. Coaching opportunities will hopefully still be there in the future. My family has been so supportive over the years and now it’s time to give that extra attention to them.”
Leiti will retain her post as a Health and Physical Education teacher at Avon Grove as well as a coach for Horizon Field Hockey Club and Brandywine Youth Club. Prior to Avon Grove, Leiti coached at her high school alma mater, Penncrest High School, as the assistant for three years.
Reflecting on her time, Leiti says she’s proud of the “family” that her teams really became over the years, and that’s she been fortunate “to have fantastic players that are just great all-around people, supportive parents, and a great coaching staff.”
Stand-out moments for Leiti including the program’s first District playoff appearance under her direction in 2005; moving from the SCCL to the Ches’Mont League and vying for the league championship in 2006; and her 100th career win in 2011 at Garnet Valley with a team that later advanced to the 2nd round of Districts.
Leiti had contemplated stepping down in 2012 but says “my seniors asked me to stay and sealed it with a District game against CR South where we lost in double OT—it was an amazing game!” Other fond memories include the 2014 win over Methacton as the lower seed in OT and making it to the second round of Districts, and “of course this season was super special with a great record, a District Home game, and the honors that went along with it.”
Leiti has also spearheaded the team’s annual spring tournament for eleven years and numerous clinics, camps and tournaments for local youth programs.
Landmarks in Leiti’s career also include the fact that about fifteen players continued their field hockey careers at the college level on NCAA teams and club programs. She’s also had nine players move on to coach at high schools and colleges.
Winning aside, Leiti prides herself in fostering team and personal pride, as well as supporting her players’ success off the field. “I’ve always been a big advocate of academics and then athletics. I try to teach the girls that they need to be well rounded, put their academics first and experience the most that they can while in high school. Our program is very proud to have girls that are finishing in the top ten in their class, are involved in various clubs throughout the school, and are students that our administration identifies as standouts. On the field, I’ve tried to teach them to love the game and only worry about the things that they can control; sportsmanship, individual effort, teamwork are all staples in our program.”
As for what she’ll miss, Leiti comments: “I’ll miss the interaction with my AG students. Being a coach where you teach gives you some special relationships with many of the students at your school. It’s not only just about your team but the whole athletic community. I’ll miss the interactions with the other coaches and being part of the Avon Grove Athletics program. I’ll also miss working with my coaching staff. I have been blessed over the years to have some wonderful assistant coaches; some have been former players and parents. Two in particular though are Julie Donell and Alyssa Sifer. Julie and I have coached together for ten years and Alyssa was a goalie for me for four years and a coach for the past four. These two are a big part of our success and the fun we’ve had over the years.”
After fifteen years with Leiti at the reigns, she leaves behind a program on the upswing with District playoffs as an expectation, she says, and advancing to the second round, a goal. And, with more of the program’s student-athletes now playing club hockey, paired with the development of the youth program, Leiti can hang up her clipboard knowing that she’s laid a solid foundation for Avon Grove field hockey’s continued success.
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