Careers in Motion – New Wave of Head Coaches

Aug 17, 2023 | 2023-2024, Blog

By Kelly Blackhurst, NFHCA Awards & Digital Communications Manager

In the dynamic world of field hockey, coaching plays a pivotal role in shaping successful teams and fostering a positive environment for players to thrive. We chatted with first year head coach, Emily Dinsmore, the head coach at Appalachian State University (App State) to pick her brain leading up to the 2023 field hockey season.

NFHCA: Can you tell us about your background and previous coaching experiences that have led you to your current position as head coach at App State?

Emily Dinsmore (ED): I started coaching right out of college. I graduated from Liberty University in 2013, and that fall I helped coach at Huntingtown High School in Maryland. I moved back to Lynchburg that following year to teach 4th grade where I was able to be a volunteer coach at Liberty. From there, I decided to pursue coaching full-time and ended up back in Maryland at Stevenson University. I spent two years there as the graduate assistant coach and during the same time, I coached club for Freedom HKY. At Freedom, I coached for Sarah Dawson and she connected me with her sister Meghan Dawson at App State. I have been at App State for the last six years as an assistant coach, and I’m going into my first season as head coach.

NFHCA: What attracted you to the coaching position at App State, and what made you decide to accept the opportunity?

ED: When I first came for my interview at App State, I didn’t know what to expect, but I quickly fell in love with the mountains, the community, and the team. I had been on a couple of other interviews, but App State felt like home. I knew this was where I was supposed to be. Six years later and I still feel the exact same. There is something special here in the mountains! I’m so thankful for this team and to be entrusted with this new position as head coach.

NFHCA:  What is your coaching philosophy, and how do you plan to implement it to build a successful program at App State?

ED: I believe relationships are the foundation of all successful programs. At the end of the day, it’s the heart behind the jersey that truly matters. My favorite coaching quote of all time is, “Coaching is a profession of love. You can’t coach people unless you love them.” I believe in fostering an environment that seeks to put others before self. For student- athletes to be successful, a love for serving must outweigh a craving for leading. The success of our program will be seen as we live out our core values, both on and off the field. Our four core values are respect, family, commitment, and growth. These are the pillars upon which we are continuing to build our program.

NFHCA: As a new head coach, what are your expectations for the upcoming season? What goals have you set for yourself and the team?

ED: I’ve told the team time and time again that we are not rebuilding, we are just reloading. If we focus on the little things, they will add up to big things. Our goal is to win a Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship this year and it will always be to win a MAC Championship and compete in the NCAAs. We want to compete every day like it’s our last. As a staff, our goal is to encourage and prepare them for every battle.

NFHCA: How have you been preparing for the fall season? Can you share any specific strategies or initiatives you have undertaken?

ED: I have spent a lot of time talking with other head coaches and asking them specific questions about certain parts of their programs. Asking them how they do certain things has helped me as I continue to prep for the fall season. As a staff, we have been discussing different strategies and principles of play that we want to implement this fall. The question we always look to answer is, what will be best for the team and how can we utilize our strengths as a team. We want to be intentional behind everything we do and the decisions we make.

NFHCA: Transitioning into a new coaching role can present its challenges. What are some of the key adjustments or changes you anticipate making in your coaching style or approach?

ED: I agree that this transition can be challenging, but I think I have been given the best-case scenario. I have new responsibilities and I’m in a new role, but the team knows me, and I have prior relationships with them. This helped with the transition because they know who I am, the same person that the team can trust and rely on. I don’t want to change much because what I have done in the past has led me to this point. However, now as the leader of the program, I want to continue learning and growing to be the best possible coach I can be for the team. This means at times I will be stepping into roles outside of my comfort zone.

NFHCA: Building a cohesive and successful team often involves creating a positive team culture.What steps are you taking to foster a supportive and high-performing environment within the App State field hockey program?

ED: We have an incredible culture that has been cultivated over the years, and it is all a credit to the student-athletes. It goes back to relationships and the time that we spend building with one another. Team bonding and doing things together off the field is so important. There is such a difference when you step onto the field to compete for only yourself vs. stepping onto the field to compete for your sisters on the team. If you were to attend one of our practices, you would see a healthy competitive environment that helps student-athletes reach their full potential. You would see a family that wants to help each other get better every single day.

NFHCA: The goal of this article is to inspire and provide updates on collegiate head coaching changes. What advice or messages would you like to share with other aspiring coaches who are looking to make a similar transition into a head coaching position?

ED: Surround yourself with like-minded people; you can’t do anything alone, and who you surround yourself with is so important. Learn from them, ask for advice, and believe in yourself and your ability as a coach. None of us are perfect so remember to give yourself grace. And always remember that you can’t coach people unless you love them.

Head Coaching Updates for the 2023 Season

The 2023 field hockey season brings exciting changes to the coaching landscape. Here are some updates on head coaching appointments:

  • Albertus Magnus College: Keira Integlia
  • Allegheny College: Lauren Thomas
  • Appalachian State University: Emily Dinsmore
  • Cedar Crest College: Joan Johnson
  • Clark University: Laura-Ann Lane
  • D’Youville College: Nicole Sott
  • Eastern Mennonite University: Justina Kishorn, Interim
  • Elmira College: Jessica Galatioto
  • Elms College: Katelynn Leclerc
  • Gordon College: Josie Skelley
  • Goucher College: EA Jackson
  • Gwynedd Mercy University: TBD
  • Keystone College: Erin McGinley
  • Lehigh University: Kelsi Lykens
  • Limestone University: Farai Kawonde
  • Lock Haven University: Anna Rogers
  • Long Island University: Mike Pallister
  • Marian University: Evan Drauschak
  • Mercyhurst University: Mackenzie Hadfield
  • Nichols College: Emma Mawn
  • Notre Dame of Maryland University: Cassidy Coates
  • Northeastern University: Pam Speuhler
  • Penn State Harrisburg: Amanda Janney Misslehorn
  • Penn State University: Lisa Bervinchak Love
  • Plymouth State University: Molly Saunders
  • Ramapo College: Kelsie Murphy
  • Rhodes College: Averill Erdody
  • Rider University: Alicia Govannicci
  • Roberts Wesleyan University: Marissa Kocher
  • Simmons University: Tori Shaffer
  • SUNY Morrisville: Kathy Cornell-Deangelis
  • SUNY Oswego: Caitlin Hoover
  • Syracuse University: Lynn Farqhuar
  • Towson State University: Katie Gerzabeck Salem
  • Trinity College: Jess Bergen
  • University of Maine at Farmington: Mary Sinclair
  • University of Massachusetts Dartmouth: Anika Goodhue
  • University of New Haven: Margaret Mclean
  • University of North Carolina: Erin Matson
  • Vassar College: Annie Kietzman
  • Washington College: Alex Calder
  • Washington & Jefferson College: Maggie Fees
  • Wells College: Adair Milmoe
  • Westfield State University: Carden Brown
  • Wilkes University: Ashley Irwin
  • Worcester State University: Sophia Monopoli

The field hockey community is vibrant and ever-evolving, thanks to the passionate and inspiring coaches who shape the future of the sport. As we look forward to the 2023 field hockey season, we celebrate the coaching changes that promise new opportunities for growth, camaraderie, and success.


Please inform the NFHCA about any further head coaching changes by emailing

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The National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) is a nonprofit organization serving field hockey coaches and supporters of the game from across the United States. The mission of the organization is to champion, strengthen, and celebrate field hockey coaches and the game. The NFHCA strives to cultivate and recognize the professional contributions of its membership and to foster and promote the growth of the sport. The NFHCA is responsible for providing a recognizable presence and voice in regard to legislation affecting the sport as well as interscholastic and intercollegiate programs.