By: Marisol Stoddard
Packed with five field hockey college commits and two lacrosse college commits, Glenelg’s new Field Hockey coach, Martha Dyer, didn’t have to do much to create a competitive fire at the start of the season.
Still, it is her positivity that is most responsible for the varsity team positioned as the top seed heading into next week’s playoffs with a 8-0 league record. The team has outscored league opponents 82-2 during that stretch.
After about 47 years of coaching field hockey, Dyer, who is Glenelg’s first full-time coach in the sport, is giving her all into making her players successful and cooperative. Dyer said that it’s been making a difference to a team that is no stranger to success, coming off last year’s state championship under head coach Nicole Trunzo.
“At first, the girls were very quiet; I could tell that they didn’t know what to expect,” Dyer said. “I could see them get more comfortable with me as a knowledgeable coach and someone who loves the game, and I think they were very happy.”
Some contributing factors to the teams acceptance and appreciation for their new coach can be credited to her “Coach Marty-isms,” as she calls them, which are creative and interactive activities to keep her team involved and enjoying the sport.
With an emphasis on positive reinforcement, Dyer has introduced a “Beast of the Game” activity, which involves a stuffed animal of the Beast from The Beauty and the Beast, that gets given to whichever player that Dyer deems to have been the “Beast” of the previous game. The player that wins the Beast then is tasked with decorating it in some way - like adding little reading glasses for Grandparents day - for when it gets returned to Dyer before their next game. Dyer said that this activity in particular has worked very well in motivating her players from game to game in a friendly and light-hearted manner.
“I love how Coach Martie adds so much joy and excitement to the team,” said senior University of Maryland commit AJ Eyre. “She has brought many activities and team bonding events that have brought our team together closer than ever. She brings the spirit and energy that is the heart and soul of the team.”
Another activity that Dyer has instituted is Big and Little Sisters, an initiative that involves each player to be partnered with a “Big” or “Little” sister, creating a space for mentorship and encouragement between all players in an engaging and constructive way. Players have made spirit boxes for each other, containing little gifts and treats to congratulate and motivate each other off of the field.
One of the strongest sentiments that Coach Dyer has held throughout her instruction in field hockey is that every player on the team “has to be a nice girl.” She requires that her players sign a contract at the beginning of every season that makes them agree to either carrying a positive attitude on and off the field, or sit out of games.
Dyer said she has noticed some very obvious effects of this mindset onto her players, detailing how she's noticed her girls start to yell out compliments at their teammates during games and practices, rather than just encouraging words.
Dyer has ensured that the positivity that her team has emphasized is felt by all girls on the field, including the teams from other schools. Although field hockey is an incredibly competitive sport, Dyer has made it a priority to show sportsmanship and enthusiasm to all girls involved. This has included distributing miniature American flags to all players on 9/11 when they played Mt. Hebron, and wearing little yellow ribbons during the Crofton game, when they were playing against a girl with cancer.
Dyer’s overall message to all field hockey coaches and mentors is that “you can’t just be negative to them, they won’t respond.” She claims to have noticed a much more clear impact on her players performance when she “sandwiches” a critique, meaning she compliments the player, says her critique, and ends the conversation on a positive note by explaining how every mistake or mishap can be learned from and changed for the better.
Dyer said she credits her positive impact on Glenelg’s team to her true love for every player she has.
“When you truly care and love a player, you would never want to see them hurt or cry, and that contributes to her ability to maintain a positive instructor in their lives,” she said.
Dyer and the team hope to ride that sentimentality all the way to a repeat state championship in November.