Rifle High School tabs ex-keeper as girls soccer coach
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
RIFLE, Colorado ” Jennifer DeHamer thinks goalkeepers make good coaches. She would know.
Playing women’s soccer under ex-keeper Chris Miskec at Minnesota State-Mankato, DeHamer and the Mavericks went to the Division II national tournament three times during DeHamer’s four-year collegiate career.
Now it’s DeHamer’s turn to see if she can parlay a playing career as a goalkeeper into a successful coaching career, just as Miskec, a four-time North Central Conference coach of the year at MSU, did.
DeHamer, who graduated in December of 2007 and is currently teaching third grade at Elk Creek Elementary School in New Castle, will get her start as Rifle High School’s new head girls soccer coach.
And you better believe DeHamer’s been hitting up Miskec, who stepped down at MSU after the 2007-08 school year, for advice since landing her first head coaching job.
“She loved coaching,” DeHamer said. “She was that authority figure. Everyone respected her. She was the one who was really able to bring out my goalie skills. I never had that kind of training before. I’ve been asking her for tips.”
DeHamer inherits a Rifle program that pieced together a 6-7-1 record and placed fifth in the 4A Western Slope League last spring.
The 23-year-old Wisconsin native, whose coaching experience consists of a stint as a volunteer assistant coach for a high school program in Minnesota, met with her new team earlier this week. DeHamer’s also picked the brain of Maggie Holdsworth, who took Rifle’s program over midway through last season after Mark Knighton abruptly resigned in mid-April.
“She gave me input on the dynamics of the girls,” DeHamer said. “So I know a little bit of the history and everything.”
Making the shift from the pitch to the sidelines was a no-brainer for DeHamer, who sorely missed the game once her playing days came to an end.
“When I was doing my student teaching in Minnesota, I needed something else,” she said. “Being part of a team and that routine had always been my life, ever since I could remember. I played soccer all through college, every day. I missed it. When the opportunity came to volunteer my time and coach, I said, ‘Yeah, let’s try it.'”
And DeHamer realized quickly she had found her niche.
“As a goalie, I know the game pretty well,” she explained. “I’m used to being back there, playing, but never really knew how to make drills to suit the other players. That was pretty much the biggest thing for me. I realized I could do it. I could get in there with the girls and I knew what I was talking about. It opened my eyes. I realized I could probably do this for a while.”
DeHamer and the Bears get their season under way in early March and hit the pitch for practice starting Feb. 17.
“I’m really excited to get this opportunity,” she said. “I love (coaching). It goes along with the teaching thing. I love every aspect of teaching and coaching, especially with something I love like soccer.”
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The Rifle and Glenwood Springs girls tangled on Tuesday night at Glenwood’s Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium in a 4A Western Slope League contest that carried major implications in the conference standings.