Over this year’s winter break, the women of the Lehigh field hockey team were told they would be returning to school without a head coach.
Former head coach Stacey Eversley stepped down from the position for personal reasons after being with the team for five years. The search began for a new head coach as soon as the team returned to school for the spring semester.
The search ended in early March.
Caitlin Dallmeyer was hired to serve as the new head coach of the team after serving as head coach at Dickinson College for five years. As an undergraduate, Dallmeyer went to Duke University where she played goalkeeper for the team and was an All-American. She led her team to reach the Final Four three times and to the NCAA National Championship twice.
After graduating with a degree in psychology and a certificate in markets and management, Dallmeyer went on to become the assistant coach for her former program for three years and became very involved with the USA Field Hockey Futures program.
Dallmeyer’s wide range of experience is why Stacy Shiffert, Lehigh’s associate athletic director for business and budget, decided to bring her on board. Shiffert said they had a good pool of candidates that applied for the head coach position, but Dallmeyer stood out because of all this experience, not only with coaching, but on the field as well.
“Caitlin stood out due to her experience at Dickinson,” Shiffert said, “in making (the Dickinson) program successful, and we were looking for that same kind of success here for our program going forward. She also has experience at a Division I school, Duke, as a player and as an assistant coach, so that was an extra bonus for us also.”
Dallmeyer has that exact goal in mind. Under Eversley, the team went 21-69 (6-22 Patriot) combined over her five years as coach. She plans to make the program a winning one through raising the team’s standards, particularly in fitness and developing a plan that the team can use moving forward.
“(The team) had talked about redefining themselves,” Dallmeyer said. “That’s a really good term for where we are right now, so they want to raise these standards and work really hard this spring to meet those standards so that when we come in in the fall, we are being seen as a completely different program then has been in the past, a winning program.”
A winning field hockey program is something that has not been seen in a long time at Lehigh, including by anyone currently on the team. Dallmeyer said the team is training with that goal in mind, making sure they are bringing their best selves to everything they are doing.
Freshman forward Teresa Carotenuto said Dallmeyer laid out her expectations for the team during her first meeting with them. She was straightforward and told them her goals and expectations for the program.
Carotenuto also said Dallmeyer’s coaching strategy differed from Eversley in the sense that Dallmeyer is more hands on and will stop a drill to show the players how it is supposed to be done correctly herself.
On the other side, Eversley’s coaching style was more hands off. Carotenuto said while Dallmeyer comes across as more competitive and driven, both Dallmeyer and Eversley have similar characteristics.
The team’s graduate assistant coach Teresa Mathews echoed Carotenuto, saying Eversley preferred using words for leadership, while Dallmeyer will jump into drills and show the players how it is supposed to be done. Mathews said Dallmeyer will bring change to the team, which she believes will be positive, and the players want to see change. Mathews stressed Dallmeyer is not necessarily better than Eversley, just different, but that difference is making a positive impact.
Mathews was involved in the search process and highlighted Dallmeyer as a great fit for the team. Mathews said she felt like the girls would benefit from Dallmeyer’s leadership, experience, well-rounded personality and clear vision of where she wanted the team to go.
Dallmeyer is sitting down with every player on the team to get to know them on a personal level. She said she wants to know things such as what drew them to Lehigh, what other schools they were looking at and what their experience has been like thus far on the team and as a student athlete.
These kinds of conversations will establish a trust moving forward that Dallmeyer plans to use in practice. Dallmeyer said she plans to pull practice back to the basics and push those fundamentals hard to see the team using that experience at speed in their play.
She added that the most impressive thing coming in to a new program for her was how well the players on her team bond together and the level of respect that have for each other.
“I was really pleased with the amount that they care about each other,” Dallmeyer said. “And the desire that they have for the whole group to be successful, not just as individuals, but as a team.”
As is normal when a new head coach comes into their position, Dallmeyer is in the process of searching for a new assistant coach to bring to the team.