Innovative and forward thinking coaches are often one step (or more) ahead of their competitors. Many coaches often fall back on the way it’s always been done and overlook huge opportunities that are sitting right in front of them. And quite often it’s just a matter of not wanting the hassle of managing another person or aspect of their program.
Here’s a great example of a small high school field hockey program in which the coach has engaged the services of a person in the community who just wanted to help. It appears to be paying big dividends.
With the regular-season past its mid-point and the tournament on the horizon, Quabbin Regional coach Shelly Zalneraitis is glad to have Lisa Rollins on her side.
Rollins is listed on the Quabbin roster as “director of operations” and handles many of the duties that a team manager would do. For example, if Zalneraitis is a few minutes late for practice, Rollins calmly steps up and directs visitors, including sports writers, to the workout area. And any visitor with a question or two about Quabbin field hockey, past or present, will surely get an answer from Rollins.
It’s safe to say that Rollins, a Barre resident, is in her element when she’s assisting the Quabbin field hockey program.
“I help out with field hockey because I couldn’t play field hockey when I was a kid,” Rollins said. “It gives me something to do. I’ve been helping out up here at Quabbin High School for 5-6 years. It’s fun. I have a lot of good friends on the team.”
Rollins is basically non-stop when any Quabbin field hockey team is playing. Prior to a recent practice session, she was busy intermingling with the varsity and junior varsity players, making sure that everyone was ready to roll. When the athletes hit the playing field, Rollins hustled over to the Overlook-Quabbin middle school game a few yards away and ran the game clock. She also sounded the horn to signal substitutions and the end of the halves.
“I’m the manager, so I’m in charge of the official time during a game,” Rollins said. “I’m also in charge of the official book. But I don’t have to pick things up or carry things around. The girls do that.”
Rollins, who works mornings at Ruggles Lane Elementary School, enjoys dealing with the various Panther coaches and calls them friends. The coaches, in turn, are glad to have Rollins around to help out.
Zalneraitis pointed out that Rollins is at every game, home and away. She added that Rollins doesn’t forget people once she meets them and is well-known among Central Mass. field hockey coaches and officials.
“We are proud to have Lisa working with us,” Zalneraitis said. “She cares about our schools, the kids, and the Quabbin community.”
Rollins, of course, roots for the Panthers at all times. She has experienced the big wins and the heart-breaking losses.
“You develop a bond with the coaches and players, and you feel for them in tough games, including losses,” Rollins said. “The hardest one was when we played Nashoba (2015 Division 1 final) and lost to them (in overtime). That was very hard — you feel like you’re part of the team. You feel the same emotions as the players.”
The affable Rollins is a fixture in Quabbin athletics. During the winter, she helps out with middle school basketball, usually working the game clock. In the spring, Rollins helps work the scoreboard for baseball.
Right now, however, field hockey is Rollins’ gig and she’s having grand time.
“I love being involved in field hockey,” Rollins said. “So many things are great, like being on the bus with the team and having a good time with the players, maybe doing cheers. It’s the best.”
Read the entire article at Telegram.com.