By Soren Rutherford
In her first year coaching the varsity, Emily Vayo has vast plans and goals for the Thomas Dale Knights.
Seeing as the program had its struggles last year, finishing 5-10, the Knights have a new outlook.
“Overall, we have a fairly young team this year,” Vayo said, noting that she has only four returning starters.
The Knights look toward their returning captains Madison Swift and Anna Reams for much-needed leadership and mentoring for the younger players.
Despite coming off two uninspiring seasons, Vajo continues to remain confident in her players’ drive to get better every day.
“Our team has a thirst for knowledge,” she said.
Vayo’s cheerful, but stern demeanor figures to help a developing team in what will be a new experience for Vayo as well.
Second-year head coach Ashley Heyden returns to the Skyhawks field hockey program, providing stability to a program that’s been rebuilding.
After taking over the program last year, Heyden was able to manage one win over Henrico in double overtime. While the program has struggled historically, the Skyhawks qualified for the 5B South regional tournament in 2015.
The Skyhawks return two players who are in their fourth years on the team: seniors Madison Dierdorf and Megan Fideli.
One of Heyden’s biggest goals during the offseason was to recruit new players. This will allow her to help the school field a junior varsity program.
“The girls were not used to being coached regularly and having such high expectations,” Heyden said. “I was determined to change that culture.”
She wants to put the team “back on the map,” and said she enjoys developing the team.