Transylvania Field Hockey 2019 Season Preview: Hastings era commences for revitalized Pioneers

field hockey season preview

Lexington, Ky. – This fall rings in not only a new season but a new era for Transylvania field hockey.

After a 2-14 run in the 2018 season, the Pioneers enter 2019 refreshed and with a new look as first-year head coach Katie Hastings has arrived in Lexington, ready to put her championship imprint upon the program.

Hastings, an alum of perennial field hockey power Salisbury University in Maryland, enters her inaugural season with the Pioneers owning a championship pedigree borne out of a stellar playing career with the Sea Gulls and a quickly growing coaching resume after stops at Washington and Jefferson, and most recently back at her alma mater.

The quick file on Hastings illustrates a story which includes an NCAA National Championship game appearance in 2013, multiple leadership roles, and extended excellence as her career transitioned from one as a player to one as a coach.

With a consistent winning perspective already in her young career, Hastings now hopes to transfer her lessons upon a team looking to develop a winning culture at Transylvania. "The one thing I believe that sets Salisbury apart is its strong team culture," comments Hastings. "I've learned the importance of believing in the best possible outcome and working hard on and off the field to make that happen. In order to be the best, you have to train and prepare like the best and that's a mindset I am hoping to establish within my own program here at Transy."

After being named head coach of the Transylvania field hockey team in January, Hastings has embarked on a fast-track year leading up to the Pioneers' season opener on the road at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland on Friday, August 30.

In the first half of the calendar year, Hastings has balanced the rigors of getting to know her new student-athletes at Transylvania and having a productive spring season while completing her master's degree at Salisbury, while also becoming fully ingrained in the culture of Lexington and more closely at Transy.

"So far in my time here, I've learned the importance of focusing on the details and celebrating the small wins," adds Hastings. "Team culture is so important to me and I've tried to focus on building a personal relationship with each student-athlete in hopes that time will positively translate into some wins on and off the field this season. It's been important to remain focused on establishing a positive team culture and ringing home the 'we over me' mentality."

Along with establishing some foundational roots that will bear fruit for years to come, Hastings has also had time to evaluate her team and guide the Pioneers in already achieving some measurable success leading up to August 31.

"Our fitness really improved over this spring season and I believe the girls used that to elevate their summer training," remarks Hastings. "We spent a lot of time focusing on the fundamentals and just enjoying being out on the field together. Our team morale and rapport with one another improved which is a very big win to me and my program. The six weeks of spring training gave me the opportunity to see what exactly each player brings to the table, on and off the field, and we'll be continuing to make that a focus this fall as well."

The 2019 Transylvania field hockey season will provide a collection of new looks, including a brand-new coaching staff which includes Hastings and Clara Bissell, who also serves as the lead assistant for the NCAA Tournament-qualifying Transylvania women's lacrosse team. Along with a revamped coaching staff, the Pioneers will welcome a new incoming class and round up their season by hosting the Southern Athletic Association field hockey conference tournament at Pat Deacon Stadium.

With each institutional member hosting the conference tournament on an annually rotating basis, the Pioneers are the beneficiary of this year's cycle. The opportunity places the Pioneers right in the middle of a championship atmosphere mixed with familiar surroundings as a new chapter opens for the program.

"This is a great opportunity for our program and is not something every student-athlete gets to experience during their collegiate career," shares Hastings. "Being at home is a huge advantage and my hope is that hosting the SAA Tournament will increase the campus support for the field hockey program."

As Hastings leads the Pioneers into action this fall, the Maryland native inherits a blend of veteran talent which exited last season with a thrilling conference tournament victory to recall along with an intriguing corps of youthful players.  

Senior sweeper Ellie Domato leads a Transylvania defense which showed its abilities to hold firm in 2018. The senior was an All-SAA second-team selection last season and anchors the backline for Transy. "I'm really looking forward to seeing Ellie return and making an impact on the field," comments Hastings. "She made a strong presence on the defensive end of the field last year and I'm hopeful that she will be a strong leader for us in the backfield."

Veteran frontliners Audrey Denham and Emma Uhls return to the roster for Transylvania and figure to add a scoring punch to the Pioneers. "I know Audrey has been working hard on her fitness this summer and I believe she will make an impact on the field, regardless of her position," Hastings adds. "I'm hoping she will see some time in the midfield and use her attacking skills to help our team dominate in the attacking end. I know that Emma is ready to really step into her own. Her skills on the field improved over the spring and I know her work ethic and positive attitude will set the bar high for our team this season."

Two newcomers also present the potential to add impactful contributions to the Pioneers in a timely fashion. Midfielder Makenna Saward (San Diego, California / Scripps Ranch HS) and freshman goalkeeper Abi Waldron (Louisville, Kentucky / Ballard HS) are two freshmen who add end-to-end assistance for the Pios. "Makenna is a very versatile player and her speed and strong attacking skills will aid in our success on the field," Hastings describes. "Abi's speed and finesse in the goal will give our defense the confidence and leadership we will need to be a force to reckon with."

As Hastings takes the reins of the Pioneers in 2019, the Transylvania head coach approaches a fresh canvas paying homage to the past while applying her signature to a program looking for a return to prominence. "Field hockey has a rich tradition at Transylvania University. In my first few months here, I've learned of the impact that Pat Deacon has had on her previous students and it is remarkable. It's clear that she was much more than a coach focused on X's and O's. She cared about the individual as a whole and not just their athletic abilities. There aren't enough words to explain the impact Coach Deacon has had on this program and the athletes she had the opportunity to coach."

Hastings's philosophy not only pays homage to Deacon's legacy for Transylvania field hockey but echoes her own perspective as it relates to the future of the program: "I want to aid in preparing my student-athletes for their lives after college by teaching them valuable life lessons through participating in a college sport. This season, I want this team to connect on and off the field, simply enjoy playing the game, and get a little bit better each day. Our wins won't just come from the scoreboard, but rather how well we are growing and connecting as a team."

The Pioneers open up the home portion of their season with back-to-back contests on Saturday, September 7 versus The College of Wooster and on Sunday, September 8 against Oberlin College with both games beginning at 12 Noon, Eastern time.

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