L.C. Bird field hockey coach Veronica Zuccarello moved here from New Jersey on a Friday. On Monday, she met her team. Both coach and team have had a season to remember, as the Skyhawks are headed to regionals for the first time since 2004.
“The season has been awesome for them,” Zuccarello said. “But it’s been more awesome for me, they just don’t know that.”
Zuccarello calls the team her “best friends.” After all, they were among the first people she met in addition to the people she spent the most time with.
“They are a huge part of my experience in Chesterfield, especially as a teacher,” Zuccarello said. “I look forward to going to practice every day.”
While a three-win season is not necessarily one for the ages, it has been more about how the Skyhawks lost games. Coaches took notice of a harder, more disciplined style of play. Not a single practice was cancelled this year. Practices were held in the pouring rain.
“Their defense really improved the second time we played,” said Midlothian coach Geri Douglas. “Their coach seems young, but is able to make adjustments.”
Zuccarello was pleased that even when the Skyhawks lost games to a mercy rule, coaches came up and paid compliments to the girls because they had not seen Bird play like they did in years.
All the practice and dedication culminated in an exciting overtime victory over Matoaca to earn their berth to the 5A South region tournament. Lake Deane drove a goal home to give the Skyhawks the victory in sudden death.
“It was a good ending to a rough game,” Deane said. “It was cold and rainy, I’m really glad we won.”
Junior defensive midfielder Mimi Tran never thought she’d see the team come so far, so fast. She credited that to her coach and to good team chemistry.
“One of the best things about coach is that she doesn’t sit there and watch us do drills,” Tran said. “She does them with us.”
L.C. Bird lost to top-ranked Deep Run on Monday in the first round of regionals. Still, Zuccarello and her flock of Skyhawks will look to build on this season and soar even higher in the future.