With such a storied coaching career, one would imagine that Lynne Beecroft was always destined to be a leader. But she sees her coaching career as a fairy tale start.
The former Olympian joined her former teammate Nancy Mollenhauer (then Charlton) in 1984 as coach of the University of Victoria women’s field hockey team.
“I was a super shy person, I didn’t think standing in front of a group of 16-20 athletes and telling them what to do would be in the cards for me,” Beecroft said.
“I think she (Mollenhauer) saw something in me that I could bring to the Vikes team that maybe they hadn’t had to help them through the bump because they had very good teams, but they hadn’t won a national championship. I wasn’t sure what that would entail. But I thought it would be an opportunity. One of my goals in life was to make a difference, and so I could make a difference in the lives of the athletes I coach.
And make a difference she did. Never having won a national title before 1984, the UVic Vikes women’s field hockey team was crowned the best in Canada 15 times, all under Beecroft’s tutelage.
The Vikes women’s field hockey team won their most recent title and fourth straight U SPORTS Women’s National Field Hockey Championship in a 2-0 series against the York University Lions on the hockey field. UVic grass on November 5th.
A lot has changed in Beecroft’s 39 years in the dugout. The team went from a field that wasn’t in such good shape, admits Beecroft, to one of the best in the country.
Technology has also gone through a paradigm shift. Beecroft says it has its place in sport – she recently learned to text to stay in touch with her athletes after email went out of fashion, but thinks sport as a whole has become too focused on people. screens.
“Now I’m watching ice hockey and NHL players are sitting on the bench, looking at the iPad, to find out why they didn’t do such and such. For me, they missed the mark. The fact is that they are not in the present. So they don’t watch the actual game and see what’s really going on. They think about what they have done in the past.
Beecroft said she focused on helping players be more intuitive, teaching them skills and helping them understand their role on the team. Unlike sports movies, Beecroft’s strengths don’t lie in standing in front of a crowd and giving grand speeches. She connects with them off the pitch.
“There are a lot of people who would just kind of have a headline, they can just go on and on. I always yearn to have that ability, but it’s just not in my nature, I don’t think. I had trouble talking at my own kitchen table growing up with my family. So it was definitely not in my nature. But I think I connect pretty well with the athletes on an individual level, and then what I try to do is bring all those individuals together collectively.
Over his time, Beecroft has coached a wide range of successful athletes – on several occasions, several generations of field hockey have played as a family for his team. But she said her proudest moments came from watching those she coached put down their sticks and go on to succeed beyond field hockey.
“Any sport is just a microcosm of life. So the things that we can teach them, in terms of life skills, that they can go out and be successful in anything they do outside of sport That probably makes me prouder than the successes we’ve had on the pitch.
Now retired, Beecroft looks forward to taking some well-earned time off, hiking with friends and playing golf once the weather improves.