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MC names Shober to field hockey post
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Over the past six years, the Manheim Central field hockey program has dealt with a lot of change at the head coach’s position.
Three different people — Michelle Haydt, Janelle Benner and Katie Gerfen — have held the post in that time span.
Now Sam Shober has taken over as the Lady Barons’ fourth skipper since the end of the 2004 season. And she is hoping to bring some stability to the job.
Shober, who graduated from Lebanon Valley College in December, 2010, was approved as the Lady Barons’ new field hockey coach at Manheim Central school board’s June 15 meeting, replacing Gerfen, who has accepted the head coach’s position at Solanco.
"As a local girl, as a person who grew up in the area and absolutely loved it, if possible I would love to be able to stay here and coach for 30 years," said Shober, a 2007 Cocalico High School graduate. "I would love to bring that sort of consistency and stability to that program."
Despite the inconsistency, the MC girls have qualified for the Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Triple-A playoffs in each of the last five seasons. They have finished with a combined record of 61-39-5 since 2005.
For the 22-year-old Shober, that speaks volumes about the players in the program.
"That says that the girls are very adaptable and they’ve succeeded through many challenges," Shober said. "You can kinda see that they’re willing to do what they need to do to win and to still be successful and enjoy this sport. That’s definitely something I look at as a huge positive, that despite having how many coaches over the past (six) years, they’ve still had winning records and made it to playoffs."
Advancing to post-season play was a regular occurence for Shober’s LVC teams. In the fall of 2010, the Lady Dutchmen earned its sixth straight NCAA Division-III appearance and ended the season ranked third in the final Kookaburra/NFHCA Division-III National Coaches’ Poll. All the while, she remained on course to graduate in December with a degree in English secondary education.
When she put her field hockey stick down last November, however, Shober had no idea that she would get a golden opportunity to coach so soon after her college graduation. But her head coach at LVC, Laurel Martin, knows Manheim Central principal Jeff Hughes, so when the Lady Barons’ job opened up, Shober was alerted to it and the rest is history.
"I think what actually made me want to be a teacher at first was wanting to be able to coach," she said. "So I’m very excited that I was offered this position and get to start at such a high level at such a well-known sports school like Manheim Central."
Despite her youth, Shober’s confident that she is ready for the challenge. Besides coaching at various camps and clinics, she has helped long-time Warwick coach Bob Derr with his club team Simply Field Hockey over the winter months for a couple of years.
Shober also speaks highly about the influence of her high school coach, Cocalico’s Krista Page, along with Martin at LVC. While Page might have leaned a little more toward defense, Shober described Martin as an offensive-minded coach, so she has well-rounded knowledge about both ends of the field.
"I have a good background and foundation," Shober said. "There’s not any pressure different from what I would put on myself — and that I am putting on myself as a coach. Obviously being a successful coach is having a winning program and I would like to exceed their record last year. I haven’t seen my entire team play yet (and) I’m not sure what we’re going to be capable of, but I’m very optimistic."
Of course, working with Derr for the time that she did, Shober sees the value of using the passing, possession game to attack defenses.
"(Coach Derr)’s taught me well," Shober said. "It’s the quickest way to get the ball up the field and the most efficient way around the defense."
Shober inherits a squad that lost seven seniors to graduation, including stars Sarah Bomberger and Randi Boyd to Millersville. Still, the MC girls bring back a solid nucleus of players and Shober has high expectations not only for herself, but her players.
"My style is competitive, but the passion needs to be there or the competitiveness won’t be either," Shober said.
That passion will certainly be there when Shober coaches against her alma mater, Cocalico. The Section Two rivals will face each other on Sept. 23 in Denver and then again on Oct. 12 in Manheim. She was actually planning to be a part of coach Page’s staff until getting the Manheim Central job.
"It will be interesting," Shober said. "I think it will be a lot of fun because they were rivals even before I moved to Manheim. It will be very competitive. I don’t know any secrets about Cocalico, but it will be a lot of fun and a great rivalry. I know at the end of the game that whoever is the winner will walk away with a smile and the loser will be ready to win the very next game, I’m sure." More SHOBER, page B-3