Coaching Spotlight: Tracey Fuchs’ Enduring Legacy

Jul 2, 2024 | 2023-2024, Blog

Photo Credit: USA Field Hockey

Manahawkin, NJ -​ As the 2024 Paris Olympics quickly approaches, the athletes aren’t the only ones feeling the summer heat and pressure that comes with playing at the Games. Team USA is also a platform for some of the world’s top coaches to demonstrate their skills working with a diverse group of players. To delve into the unique obstacles and energy surrounding this year’s team, we sat down with Tracey Fuchs, Team USA Assistant Coach and long-time NFHCA member. Fuchs, a two-time Olympian and NCAA National Champion as both a player at the University of Connecticut and head coach at Northwestern University, currently still leads the Northwestern Wildcats. Recognized as one of the greatest players in USA field hockey history, Fuchs is a two-time USA Field Hockey Athlete of the Year (1990, ’93) and a veteran of two Olympic and four World Cup teams. Her 17-year tenure on the national team, including 14 years as captain, has endowed her with invaluable leadership experience.

The 16-woman roster for Team USA may not have prior Olympic experience, but the coaching staff and players alike are undaunted. The selected players have broad international experience garnered from a variety of World Cup, Pan American Games, and other FIH Pro League and World Championship games. The result is a group of athletes prime for the Olympic stage and eager to catch the competition off guard.

Though the fanfare around an Olympic Games may serve as a distraction to some, Fuchs is confident that this year’s team is ready to shine. “While going to the Olympics is a whole other level of excitement, we’re certain that these athletes can handle the pressure,” said Fuchs. The coaching staff is also well-versed in handling, and helping their players manage, the commotion that can come from the Games’ media frenzy, with Fuchs noting that Team USA’s United Eagles is rostered by an elite group of professionals ready to perform.

Heading to their first Olympics since 2016, there is also a lot of build up at home for the United Eagles. Considered by some to be a wildcard, the coaches know anything can happen once play gets underway. “The team is ready to put everything they have on the field and give it their best shot,” said Fuchs. “We’re going in to see what we can do with the best possible combination of players we were able to put together.”

Tracey Fuchs is no stranger to the world stage. While this will be her first Olympics as a coach, Fuchs remains one of the most decorated players in U.S. field hockey history. She brings that wealth of experience to her coaching, whether at Northwestern University or with Team USA. “I’ve taken a little bit of a hiatus on the international stage, but it’s so exciting to be back and to see all the hard work that these players have put in to finally have paid off,” Fuchs explained. “There’s something about playing for your country that is just more special than anything you can imagine.”

The focus is now on continuing to cultivate and finetune both physical performance on the field and emotional connection among the athletes. “With the culture and values we’ve established in this group, we’re in a good place for the players to move forward, set the necessary boundaries, and focus on the task ahead,” said Fuchs. “Nobody scares this team. We respect everybody, but we fear no one.”

She also credits the players with having grown together and individually both from a tactical and technical standpoint, having seen the players double down on their commitment to the game as professional athletes while also attending to family, careers, course work, and other responsibilities. “Everyone is doing a great job of finding time for themselves, incorporating balance, and putting everything they have into playing at the highest level,” explained Fuchs.

As an assistant coach, Fuchs has a unique opportunity to lead by example while also being a resource for Team USA’s athletes. “Being an assistant is like night and day from being a head coach,” she explained. “I have more of an opportunity to connect one on one with the players, and I am growing as a coach in the process.” Fuchs also notes the immense honor it is to represent her country in any capacity. “I am just honored and grateful to be part of the staff,” she shared.

The entire Team USA United Eagles staff is stacked with talent starting with Head Coach David Passmore, who has over 20 years of international field hockey experience as a coach. Passmore, who previously worked as the assistant coach for Ireland’s Women’s National Team, has quickly helped bring the team up to a higher level of play using a unique coaching philosophy. The results have already been evidenced in the team’s recent Olympic qualification in Ranchi, India. Passmore is supported by both Fuchs and Craig Parnham, who is serving as high-performance director after leading the U.S. Women’s National Team to its fifth-place finish in the 2012 Rio Games as the team’s head coach.

With the 2024 Paris Games fast approaching, Fuchs and Team USA are excited not only for the upcoming competition but also the road ahead. She anticipates that the young roster will also help lay the groundwork for the group that will represent the U.S. in 2028 during the Los Angeles Games. “The future of women’s field hockey in the United States is really, really bright,” Fuchs explained. “This team is going to pave the way for not only what we can do in Paris but also eventually through to Los Angeles.”

Watch Team USA live and in action at the upcoming Paris Olympic Games July 27 to August 9 and cheer on the next generation of America’s team.

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