In the sports world the only thing tougher than becoming a champion is remaining a champion.
In pointing that out, it’s easy enough to cite the first-to-worst debacle that has been the Boston Red Sox 2014 season after the world championship campaign of 2013. But what’s behind the season after season success of teams that expect to make it at least as far as the tournament or playoff semifinals in their division – teams like coach Jen Resmini’s Pinkerton Academy varsity field hockey squad are right in the center of the championship hunt each fall, as their Division I opponents expect.
The Lady Astros’ varsity squad has stood under the leadership of two coaches – Denise Rioux and Resmini – over the last half-dozen years, and the academy squad has made it all the way to its division’s championship match five of those years. The one year the Lady Astros didn’t get all the way to the title contest they lost in the tournament semifinals.
And that consistency was maintained through the switch from program architect Rioux following the 2010 season to Pelham-native Resmini for the 2011 campaign.
The Pinkerton varsity squad drove all the way to the 2008, 2009, and 2010 field hockey championship games in its class but lost to Londonderry, Timberlane of Plaistow, and Winnacunnet of Hampton in that order.
In 2011, the Lady Astros narrowly missed out on returning to the title contest, losing to Winnacunnet in the semifinals. But the Pinkerton crew defeated Winnacunnet’s Lady Warriors in the Division I title battle the next autumn to return to the top of the competitive mountain.
Resmini’s roster strove to repeat as champion last fall, falling just short of doing so in a one-goal loss to Exeter in the D-I title contest.
Again, that’s five trips to the divisional championship game – and one near-miss – during a six-year period.
Many folks will point to the fact that Pinkerton has many student/athletes to choose from as the reason for the Derry school’s success in sports. And while that helps, it can’t entirely account for the kind of consistent title-level success enjoyed by programs like the PA field hockey program.
“I think a big part of it is that our girls are out here playing all summer long,” said Resmini, who has consistently had 30-35 players show up throughout the summer for Monday play sessions at Seacoast United in Epping on evenings, open field play on Pinkerton’s fields on Tuesday nights, and play in a summer league in Manchester on Wednesday nights.
The Lady Astros go up against some of the top players from fellow Division I powerhouses like Exeter and Winnacunnet during the summer, and while other players are spending time at the beach, those 30-35 Pinkerton players are voluntarily honing their skills, learning more about the game, and still having plenty of fun in looking forward to another successful high school campaign.
The former Pelham High Python field hockey, lacrosse, and basketball player and coach has shown plenty of ability and drive since taking over from Rioux.
“There was an immense amount of pressure from the outside when I started here,” admitted Resmini. “But that group of kids was an incredibly welcoming group, and they made stepping in so easy.”
Resmini, who teaches social studies at the academy, has also made connecting on a personal level with her athletes a priority, and she takes a “program” approach to field hockey.
“We look at this as a three-team program (freshman, junior varsity, varsity), and we want all of them to have good seasons and do well. And we emphasize that to the girls,” said the coach.
With Rivier University graduate Resmini’s passion for the sport being imparted to young athletes who love field hockey enough to give up several summer nights each week to play it even more, it’s no wonder that the Pinkerton varsity field hockey crew is expected to get deep into Division I tournament play – at least – yet again this fall.