Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 36
 
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
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(Photo Courtesy of PDS Athletics)
caption:
NEW VOICE: New Princeton Day School field hockey head coach Marie-Claire Heller is fired up about her new assignment. Heller, known as “MC,” a former star goalie for the University of Louisville is taking the helm of the PDS program after serving as an assistant coach at Rutgers. PDS will start the Heller era when it hosts local rival Stuart Country Day on September 14.

Heller Taking Helm of PDS Field Hockey, Looking to Expose Players to College Game

Bill Alden

For Marie-Claire Heller, playing field hockey at the University of Louisville changed the direction of her life.

“I encourage everyone to be a student athlete,” asserted Heller, a 2007 Louisville grad who was a star goalie for the Cardinals and posted a 1.88 goals against average as a four-year starter.

“It builds character; it puts you in different life situations. You see the results of your work on the field through wins or losses. I gained so much from the experience. I wanted to help others have that experience.”

After graduating from Louisville, Heller, known as “MC,” joined the Rutgers field hockey program as an assistant coach to stay in the college game.

This fall, she is looking to help a younger group of players to enjoy the student-athlete experience as she takes the helm of the Princeton Day School field hockey team.

“I am really grateful for the Rutgers experience but I decided I didn’t want to be a college coach so I took a six-month hiatus,” said Heller, who is replacing Heather Schnepf.

“I realized that I really loved field hockey and I started looking to coach at the high school level. I was interviewing at PDS to be an assistant to Heather and then she got a job at Kent State. I wanted to help bring the college game to them. The game has changed so much in so little time.”

Heller is thrilled by how the PDS players have been responding to her tutelage.

“They have a desire to learn; I have never seen a group that is so open to change,” asserted Heller, whose club starts regular season play by hosting Stuart Country Day on September 14. “They will take anything and make a positive out of it.”

The Panthers should be getting some positive work up front from senior Cameron Giles, sophomore Jenna Fritz, and a pair of freshmen, Emma Quigley and Emily Goldman.

“Cameron Giles is one of the seniors and I am expecting big things from her; I am also anticipating good things from Jenna Fritz,” said Heller.

“Emma Quigley is going to be an asset with some time and experience. Emily Goldman is another freshman who knows the game. I anticipate that with some time that these two are really going to step up.”

In the midfield, sophomore standout Andrea Jenkins is poised to step up.

“Andrea Jenkins will be in the midfield; she is definitely aggressive and plays with a lot of skill,” asserted Heller, who will also be using junior Carly Ozarowski and freshman Sarah Brennan in the midfield.

The defensive backfield will be spearheaded by seniors Sydney Jenkins and Courtney Klein.

“We are putting Sydney at fullback; she can push the offense from there,” said Heller, whose back line should also include Corinne Urisko and Charlotte Williams. “Klein will be at fullback or halfback; she is such a hard worker.”

Heller plans to employ a freewheeling style through the backline and midfield. “We are trying to play in a system where the backs and midfielders are interchangeable,” added Heller. “We are trying to figure out who fits where and who changes on the fly.”

At goalie, sophomore transfer Sarah Trigg from Ewing looks like she is going to be a good fit for the Panthers.

“We are expecting Sarah Trigg to step in and help the team,” said Heller. “She is a quick learner and has shown a passion for the game.”

The Panthers are showing a healthy passion for the game and Heller’s upbeat approach.

“They are embracing things; they are really excited,” said Heller. “You can look in their eyes and tell they are excited about learning. They are anticipating each other; they see things work that they just learned and they are saying ‘that’s a lot of fun.’ I don’t see why we can’t be competitive as the season goes on.”

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