By Pat Mariboe
Senior Sports Writer
Shorewomen Field Hockey Head Coach Rachel Boyle finished her coaching career in style, as she led her team to a 6-0 win over Ursinus on Oct. 29. Boyle announced on Monday that she would be leaving Washington College and pursuing other endeavors.
Boyle spent the first two of her 17 years as an assistant coach to current Vice President and Dean of Students Sarah Feyerherm. She was then appointed to co-head coach with Feyerherm for one season before she took over the reins as head coach, a position she has held since 2003. Needless to say, Boyle’s veteran experience and long lasting legacy will lead to a long-lasting legacy.
“Coaching this field hockey team has been an incredible opportunity to connect and shape young women while they simultaneously connected and shaped me,” said Boyle. “This is what life is all about; this is what I will miss most from my position as head coach. I will miss the young women I’ve had the great fortune to watch grow and evolve, whom I was able to support when they needed support, mentor when they needed guidance, and who have shaped my own perspective by the challenges, questions, and wide-eyed looks for answers. They are the reason I coached; the players, the alums who played before them, my coaching staffs, made me into the woman I am today; they shaped my life in a way that will forever stand beyond all time. The relationships were built through a game: field hockey. That was the catalyst that brought us all together.”
One of those students is junior defender Courtney Rainey. Rainey, who has been with the program since her freshman year, first met Coach Boyle nearly a decade before she made her decision to come to WC and singled out Boyle as one of the main reasons.
“Knowing your college field hockey coach since you were eight years old isn’t a typical story for most, but my oldest sister, Megan, went here and played for Coach Boyle from 2004-2008,” said Rainey. “I spent a lot of time playing on that old Bermuda grass field across that little bridge. I would never have thought the jokes back and forth between my parents and coach about me growing up and playing here would actually happen. As I got into high school and continued to come to camps and clinics at WC, suddenly it didn’t seem like a crazy idea. Junior year I remember contacting Coach Boyle and saying I might be interested and then nothing was the same.
By Fall of my senior year I had done my second visit at WAC and decided this is where I wanted to be, a huge reason being that Coach Boyle made me feel so comfortable and welcome here. She made the transition incredibly easy by truly being a second mom to me. She has taught me so much as a player on the field and I will always be grateful for that, but what she did off the field was so much more.
She has been mine and the 28 girls on my team support network for everything. She has taught me that people and connections are what matter, so treat everyone that way. She has shown me what a strong woman looks like and how to fight for what you want. She has challenged me to step up and say what I expect from myself and what I expect from others. She got me through playing on an injury for a season, where my knee was failing me constantly. She made me understand that sometimes you can only control the controllables; this was a huge growing year and lesson for me personally. She has taught me that life sometimes doesn’t deal you the right cards, but you still have to play the hand to the best of your ability and see what happens. And in the decision she is making to leave, she has taught me that sometimes you have to make the tough choice, and sometimes you have to face change head on even if it does break your heart. I will always remember these three years with her as my coach as incredible times where I grew so much as a person and a player because she was such an incredible mentor, mom and coach.”
In her time as head coach, Boyle finished with a 113-131 overall record, reaching the Centennial Conference Tournament six times. Under her leadership, the WC program has seen 46 All-Centennial Conference awards given to individuals, many of whom were mentored closely by Boyle. Being apart of a program for so many years and seeing so many student athletes come and go gave Boyle an opportunity to reflect back on her fondest memories at WC.
“There have been too many memories to truly share just one,” said Boyle. “In the beginning of my coaching career, the first year as sole head coach, it was our thrilling win against Rowan University on the ‘ber’ across the bridge, as we call it now. Rowan was the defending National Champion without a loss in 24 straight games and we won on the final penalty stroke goal in a shootout.
Another fond memory was our win against Gettysburg in the 2010 Centennial Conference playoffs in overtime at Gettysburg. In 2012 we accomplished our first win against Ursinus in program history 3-2 in OT at home. We had lost to them in a playoff game by a ridiculous margin several years before and had longed for the opportunity to revenge that loss.
And this season, I had two wonderful moments that come to mind. The first was having the opportunity to pay tribute to and start Liza Slavin for our Make A Difference game. Her accomplishments, strength, and courage truly tell the real story of life. The other was watching as five seniors contributed to our victory against McDaniel on senior day and the gesture made by team captain Liz Davis handing classmate Allison Dudley the ball to take the stroke with six minutes remaining, and it should be noted that Liz has taken every stroke for us since her arrival as a freshmen and that up to that point of the game, Allison Dudley was the only senior who wasn’t on the stat sheet contributing to the scoring until she made the stroke. Watching Liz’s gesture further reiterated again the messages that these young women take with them and I felt such pride in them and in what I witnessed as a true team, connected by a common thread of respect and honor of each other and the program and what it truly means to the program that chants WC Pride.”
Rainey shared her favorite memories of Boyle, many of which show the true kindness and character that Boyle has exhibited since her time here at WC.
“My favorite memory of Boyle has got to be any time she chooses to dance,” said Rainey. “Freshman year for some reason we took vans everywhere and I was on her van. We also always got lost because Boyle still used MapQuest instead of her phone, so trips were very long. ‘Black Widow’ was the popular song then and it came on probably two to three times every trip and she would do this dance to that song with her hands that made my whole van always laugh, until of course we heard it for the fifth time that weekend.
Boyle has crazy energy when you least expect it, like 6 a.m. run tests in the hail and that’s what made them not so bad; her yells and jokes and laugh and smile when I just wanted to be in bed and not on a track made me realize how much she loved her job and loved us.”
Although Rainey will be losing not only her long time coach and friend, but her second mom, she will always hold Boyle’s life lessons and wisdom close to her heart.
“Coach Boyle taught us this season that the scoreboard will not always reflect the game played,” she said. “We had a year this year that didn’t work out for us record wise, but every game was so close and we were making ranked teams sweat. She taught us that it is our teammates and our connection that matters. This is what I want to carry in to next year, and what the four other rising seniors will also be looking to do, we want to keep the legacy of the closeness and bond that we shared this year alive. I know for a fact that Boyle is expecting this of us.”
When asked what kind of emotions she is feeling after making such a tough decision, it is clear that although Boyle may be leaving WC, the school will always be with her for the rest of her life.
“The emotions that come with letting something go that has meant so much is incredibly difficult and powerful,” said Boyle. “It fills you with sadness and joy at the same time and you find yourself going through the emotions like waves crashing in the ocean. I know though that as I reflect on everything, it remains true to the answer above regarding why I coached: it is the relationships. They are built through sport and carry you forward in all that you do. At my core, that is what life is all about and that is what will stand the test of time, even when I’m standing on the opposite side of the field. I will truly miss so much but my heart is fulfilled with so much because of my time here and the many, many people who helped shaped my life.”