The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Amelia de Leon: from player to Head Coach

Featuring the new Head Coach of the Varsity Field Hockey team
Lily Jiang
De Leon and Yoo (both on far left) huddle with the Varsity Field Hockey team, discussing strategies for the game against Wilcox High School on Sept. 11. Photo | Lily Jiang

MVHS alum ‘16 Amelia de Leon played as a goalie for MVHS Field Hockey since she was a freshman. After she graduated, de Leon joined as an assistant coach. De Leon comments that she has always known that field hockey would be in her life in some shape or form, but she never would have thought that her journey with MVHS Field Hockey would progress from being a player to the Varsity Field Hockey Head Coach.

Former Field Hockey Head Coach Denise Eachus announced her resignation from the position in May 2023. For de Leon, this announcement was a shock, as Eachus had not mentioned any plans to resign prior to that day.

The team was already looking for a JV coach after its previous coach moved away. Without an official coach, it would have been difficult for MVFH to return in the 2022-23 school year. When no one took the offer after a month, de Leon decided to personally step up as the Head Coach. 

“I cared enough about the team, [and] I was like, ‘I think I can make this work if I have support from people around me,’” de Leon said. “I talked to [MVHS ‘18 alumni Serena Yoo], talked with my dad, and [told them,] ‘I’ll apply for the Head Coach position if you guys do this with me.’ [And,] we decided that we [could] make it work.”

Since becoming Head Coach, de Leon and her friends, MVHS ‘17 alumni Natasha Puthukudy and Serena Yoo, also former MVFH players, have implemented new, more effective systems for practicing. They maximized the effectiveness of practices, shortening them while choosing drills that focus on specific areas of improvement. After games, de Leon, Puthukudy and Yoo also ask  players to write in their journals to reflect on their performance during games.

According to sophomore Monisha Preetham, these new routines, both physical and emotional, have contributed to the team’s current success. In particular, Varsity Girls Field Hockey improved from previous years. Preetham believes that this success is largely influenced by the implementation of conditioning in practices, which increased the stamina of the players and helped the team grow and keep up with other teams.

De Leon adds that MVFH has always had the potential to perform well in games, but the team was never able to capitalize on the players’ talents. By improving players’ stamina through conditioning and strengthening their fundamentals by reteaching the basics, de Leon hopes that players can maximize their potential this year.

While de Leon’s transition into her position as Head Coach has been smooth, she says it has also been stressful. Since there is no experienced coach supporting her, de Leon and her friends are figuring out the practices and processes on their own, which she says is the hardest part of her transition at the moment.

Though the coaching staff is new this year, senior and goalie Ananya Nadathur says de Leon, Puthukudy and Yoo have been amazing. Nadathur says the coaches have created a healthier environment for the players, improving their performance in games.

“Because the team is so much more welcoming this year, we all are committed to doing better rather than just being on the team for the sake of being on a team, and that’s changed our play,” Nadathur said.

Nadathur explains that the coaching staff has always been very supportive of the players, even when they were assistant coaches. Though the team atmosphere became more welcoming after the current staff took charge, Nadathur says her experience in MVFH had always been fun due to De Leon’s support.

The Varsity Girls Field Hockey squad created team goals for the school year and hung them up in the locker room. Used with permission | Monisha Preetham (Monisha Preetham)

“[De Leon has] always been an adult that I can really trust and rely on and I always come out of practice feeling so much lighter and happier no matter how bad my day has been,” Nadathur said. “Amelia always makes practice such a safe space.”

Just as Nadathur feels that MVFH is a safe space for her, de Leon hopes that other players will also give MVFH a special place in their hearts. While de Leon wants the team to improve, her ultimate goal as Head Coach is to create a program that players love and want to return to, like with her and her friends.

“There has to be something special about this team for all these alumni to want to come back and support it, and in [our] case, completely run it,” de Leon said. “We want [players], not just as athletes but as people, to feel like they [have taken] something away, to feel that they’ve developed [themselves]. That’s what [Puthukudy, Yoo and I are] trying to do [for this] program — to keep that kind of takeaway, that kind of growth, that kind of support that we got from it when we were playing.”

About the Contributors
Leah Desai, Staff Writer
Leah is currently a sophomore and a staff writer for El Estoque. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends, listening to music and playing volleyball.
Michelle Zheng, Managing Editor
Michelle is currently a senior and a managing editor for El Estoque. In her free time, she likes to try new restaurants and watch dramas.
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