During a recent practice in Eastville, Northampton’s field hockey coach Mike Varricchio told his younger players to keep their eyes on Erica Head.
The first-year coach wanted them to see the senior’s desire to get her stick on the ball before her teammate had the chance.
“Even if she doesn’t get the ball, she’s right back on defense,” Varricchio said of Erica, a captain for the Yellow Jackets this season.
Coaching field hockey for the first time this season, Varricchio said he is “going back to the basics” and teaching fundamentals to his inexperienced players, some of which picked up a stick for the first time in August.
There to step up for the girls and teach them the game is Erica, who has been playing on the Virginia Shore’s only high school field hockey team since eighth grade.
“She’s been a real leader on this team, which I really appreciate,” said Varricchio.
In last Thursday’s 5-0 shutout over Southampton, Erica helped her team break into the win column after scoring three goals. Also scoring in the Yellow Jackets’ first victory were senior captain Ada Garvis and Elizabeth Gildo.
As center midfielder, Erica is running up and down the field during an entire field hockey game. She credits her endurance and speed to competing in cross country during the fall sports season.
“When we go to meets, the meet is 3.1 miles, so where I run for cross country it really helps me get in shape for here at field hockey,” said Erica.
Last November, she was the only Yellow Jackets cross country runner to advance to the state tournament. She placed 29th after clocking 22:46.
This season, she said she hopes to place in the top 15 at states.
As far as goals for the field hockey season, the senior said she wants to “make it the best season we can.”
“We have a lot of younger players, so we’re not the strongest we’ve ever been, but mostly I just want to see improvement. I like to see everybody working on a skill that they try and get better by the end of the season,” she said.
Erica’s best friend and fellow senior captain, Ceci Cruz, is also there to help the less experienced players improve.
Often the pair will work together to demonstrate certain skills, like how to properly hold a stick or how to bend the knees to get in a low stance, Erica said.
Rather than telling others what to do, the senior captain opts to take the time to help and do her best in hopes of inspiring her teammates to do their best.
She also doesn’t want her squad to lose sight of why they’re out on the field—to have fun.
“There’s no point in being out here if you’re not having fun,” she said.
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