De Vries will replace Megan Smyth, who, after steering the program to great heights since 2012, “made the very difficult decision to step down to spend more time with my 1 year old daughter and husband,” Smyth noted. “I will miss the team dearly but will continue to be one of their biggest supporters!” Smyth coached Conestoga field hockey for nine years and served as the head coach since 2012. Under her leadership, ‘Stoga posted undefeated seasons in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, capturing the league title each year. In 2014, the team advanced to the PIAA AAA State Tournament for the first time since 1986 and continued to advance further in the tournament each year. Last fall, the Pioneers secured their fourth undefeated Central League Title, clinched a PIAA AAA District 1 Championship for the first time in school history, and advanced to the PIAA State Championship Quarterfinals.
de Vries plans to build on Congestoga’s storied success, while also bolstering the sport from the ground level as well as elevating the program to be a perennial state and national powerhouse. “In order for Conestoga to get to the next level and compete with the ranks of Emmaus, Penn Manor, Warwick, and other traditionally amazing public school programs, we need to set up a hockey culture at our school and in our school district. Our school district needs a true leader who will not only coach the varsity team year to year, but someone who will have a strong influence on the developmental programs of the school district. I hope that I can be a strong and helpful leader to everyone!”
This will be de Vries first official coaching position at the high school level, although her coaching experience spans 23 years and her impressive playing career adds even greater depth. She prides herself in developing each player as an athlete and a young person. “I care about the well-being of the student-athlete, and as a mother, I understand the pressures and the distractions these young women face in their lives. I hope to provide a sound, constructive and consistent home for these girls where they can have fun and be themselves with their best friends.” de Vries also has helped out with WC Eagles field hockey club and the ‘Stoga team “here and there” for the last two seasons and knows many of the returning players, which will certainly ease the transition.
“Of course, I know Charlotte and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to coach her and help her team. Charlotte is one of the strongest players in the nation, yet this team will only be great if every player on the field is dedicated and certain of their role on the team. Every player is equally as important, so the development of the team is beginning now with conditioning and technical work.”
Charlotte de Vries, Kerry’s daughter, will be at the heart of the program again this season. A standout player for the Pioneers as a sophomore in 2016, she was named an All-American, is a member of the USA Field Hockey’s Junior National Team, and a University of North Carolina commit.
Prior to Conestoga, Kerry de Vries was the Technical Director at Oranje Hockey Club in Hoeilaart Belgium from 2006-2011. Before that, she was the Head Coach at Division I Kent State University from 1997 to 2005 where she earned five MAC Coach of the Year honors, seven MAC Championships, and five straight National tournament appearances. de Vries is the winningest Coach in Kent State Field Hockey history, and in 1998 was honored as the Dita West Regional Coach of the Year. Prior to her nine seasons at Kent State, de Vries was the assistant coach at Division I Wake Forest University for four years. There, she was the co-director of WFU Field Hockey camp. She also served as a coach for four years at USA Field Hockey “A” camp and was a Regional Coaching director for Futures both in North Carolina/Virginia and in Ohio for six years total.
de Vries’ playing career is equally impressive as her coaching resume. A student-athlete in both field hockey and softball at the University of Iowa, she was named an All-American field hockey player in 1990 and 1992. In 1990, she set at school single-season assist record. Her team at Iowa made the Final Four three times and finished second in 1988; they won four Big Ten titles and posted a combined record of 75-12-3 without ever losing a home game for all four years. de Vries is still active as a player, and will be trying out this summer to tour with the USA Field Hockey Masters Team in Spain in 2018. She played for the squad at the World Cup in Rotterdam a few years ago.
de Vries is the mother of three busy student-athletes: Charlotte, field hockey phenom; Alex, a competitive swimmer; and Jack, who plays for the Philadelphia Union Academy and is on the US U15 National Soccer Development Squad. Her husband Raimo was a professional soccer player for the MLS Team, the Colorado Rapids.
With the fall field hockey season starting in about four months, de Vries is pumped and ready to roll. “I believe with the athletes in this school district that the team will continue to get better and better each season. I hope to bring technical and tactical insight into the program, and to implement new ideas to the team’s offensive and defensive strategies. My goal for the fall season is to give the Central League a high standard to follow. I hope to pull together our league, our team, and our area to the highest level that the Main Line has every produced in the public school ranks. I hope to help these girls be winners, and happy and inspired young women at the same time. I want them to represent themselves with pride in who they are as a team and what they want to represent. Conestoga High School is one of the best public high schools in the country academically, and I feel we are able to create the same athletic goals as a hockey team.”
Former USA and Iowa Hawkeye player, Lauren Pfeiffer will serve as a volunteer, part-time assistant. The search for a paid assistant coach is underway.
When asked where Conestoga field hockey can go in 2017, de Vries is quick to answer: “That is up to the players, and if they are willing to buy into some new strategies and are willing to put in the time in the off-season. I feel truly blessed to have this opportunity to work with this group and it should be an exciting new task in my life!”
photo: Charlotte and Kerry de Vries
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