In 2009, Kaitlyn Bodine joined the Monticello High School junior varsity field hockey team as a way to cross-train for other sports throughout the school year.
A decade later, the soon-to-be 25 year old returns to her alma mater as the Mustangs new varsity coach.
“It’s a phenomenal feeling,” Bodine said about her first varsity head coaching job. “I am humbled at the opportunity and excited for the challenging journey.”
Bodine takes over for former coach Gwendolyn Apgar, who resigned this summer after her job as a program coordinator with Special Olympics International transferred to the Washington, D.C. offices.
Apgar had a successful tenure at Monticello, guiding the team to an eight-win season and a berth in the VHSL Class 3 state quarterfinals. The Mustangs won four of their first six games and posted three overtime victories.
Bodine served as an assistant junior varsity coach on Apgar’s staff last fall and is excited about the next chapter.
“I hope to build a program that is healthy, competitive, dedicated and fun,” Bodine said. “My coaching style is high energy, upbeat, enthusiastic and competitive.”
Athletic success is nothing new for Bodine. She was a basketball and softball player heading into high school before finding a new sport.
“Field hockey was an undiscovered gem for me coming into high school,” Bodine said. “I began playing as a rising freshman at Monticello. This began a four-year journey as a Mustang that grew my passion day by day. Though field hockey was not my main sport, it had a special place in my heart for its quick pace, competitive fire and the athletic ability it took to be successful.”
Bodine graduated from James Madison University and returned to Charlottesville last fall as a teacher at Walton Middle School. She also got to cut her coaching teeth at Monticello.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to bring field hockey back into my life last season,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be a part of building a competitive, successful program.”
Her first duty as coach came earlier this week, when she held her first preseason meeting and conditioning meeting at 7 a.m. on July 9. Bodine outlined the direction of the program and her expectations for the team.
“The young ladies that make up the past, current and future program at MHS are a force to be reckoned with, but they have dealt with a rotating wheel of coaches coming and goings,” she said. “I want to bring consistency to the program, not only with my presence, but with the coaching staff as a whole. Building a program-wide understanding that hard work, dedication and fun can have incredible payoffs, both on and off the field.”
While tactical game plans change from opponent to opponent, Bodine said the one thing you can’t coach is conditioning.
“My expectations for the season are that players come in with a solid baseline of conditioning so that we can truly get the ball rolling on our field hockey skills and team development,” she said. “This sport is not something that you can take lightly when it comes to physical fitness. It is running intensive and our players need to understand that we may have off days, but there is no offseason when it comes to keeping up with your health and fitness.”
“I want the players to learn how to balance keeping their bodies healthy and keeping up with the fast pace endurance of the game,” she continued. “Most importantly, our players should understand that working hard is fun when you work together. We are a team and a program and we are going to push each other every day to raise the bar for higher expectations, but the only way we will be successful is if we are fully dedicated as a unit, players and coaches.”
After reaching the state playoffs last fall, Bodine hopes to build off that success this season.
“This year is going to be big on learning for everyone involved. We have to learn from our losses and improve on our successes,” Bodine said. “My goal is that our players play every moment of every game to the best of their ability as an athlete, a teammate and a Mustang. From there, everything else will fall into place with the right amount of hard work.”