By Nelson Coffin
Great coaches have their teams playing the best at the end of the season, primarily by building an atmosphere of growth and acceptance.
According to John Carroll athletics director Seth Goldberg, that description fits John Carroll field hockey coach Alice Puckett perfectly.
“Our field hockey team is a great example for all coaches of all sports,” Goldberg said.
Noting that the Patriots went into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and having to go on the road for three matches against opponents against which they were held scoreless during the regular season, he said that many teams would have folded or hung their head.
“Not a Coach Puckett-led team,” Goldberg said. “She has a culture of team unity and toughness and our girls played with both of them during this magical run.”
“Puckett has so much knowledge and love for the game,” one Patriot player said. “Drills are definitely one of her strongest points and we very quickly began to see our drills worked out in game situations. Over time, it felt like our games were just a series of different drills we'd worked through in practice.” “
“Coach Puckett knows the game so well,” said another player. “She knows how to encourage her team when we need it most and how to inspire us to be better on and off the field.”
Goldberg said that the John Carroll alum’s 37 years of playing for the Patriots and Bridgewater College, serving as a club and Fallston High School coach (winning 11 state championships in 29 years with the Cougars) before taking over the JC job shows just how dedicated she is to her craft.
Puckett, was named Baltimore Sun All-Metro Coach of the Year in 1988, 1994, and 1998 and the (NFHCA) Coach of the Year in 2003, is also a 2007 member of the NFHCA’s 300 Victory Club and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame for both JC (1993) and Bridgewater College (2006).
With 401 wins in her coaching career, Puckett is someone who values how to “carry yourself on the field and buy into what we want from our teams as a league. To show her character and values, she even handed out character coins twice this year. In the end, I have a lot of great coaches, but to say Alice is at the top of that list would be understatement,” Goldberg concluded.