For any student-athlete, the hardest part of their career may be the end of the journey. For former JMU field hockey standout Corey Mayer, her journey in the sport and at JMU is far from over as she completes her master’s.
During her career at JMU, Mayer compiled 14 goals, eight assists and 36 points in 73 games. Although her time playing for the Dukes was over, she decided to continue being involved with the team, only on the sidelines this time. After being a student coach in the spring, she approached JMU head coach Christy Morgan to see if she could return in the same role during the season.
“After the fall last season, I knew that I wanted to continue to be involved with the team,” Mayer said. “ So I was able to kind of be a student coach last spring. In knowing that I was going to be here for my master’s, I approached and asked her if I could possibly be involved with the team again as a coach. So, I found my role as the student assistant, which is such a great opportunity, and I really couldn’t be more appreciative that Coach Morgan let me stay for another year and let me be a part of this program.”
Mayer said she sees the game from a new perspective as a coach and is grateful to use her experiences as a player to help the team grow. She also said she sees the rest of the coaching staff as role models during the process.
Once on the sidelines, the biggest adjustment she had to make was to stop thinking as a player. Mayer is learning from the rest of the coaching staff as much as she can while offering her perspective.
“Not being able to be physically on the field and really being in that athlete mentality,” Mayer said. “It’s definitely challenged me in a positive way just to switch that mindset and really focus on being able to verbalize instead of physically playing, so just growing as a coach from that aspect.”
Morgan said Mayer’s evolution into more of a vocal leader is vital to her role as a coach and to the success of the team. She also said it’s a skill that will help Mayer when she enters the U.S. program.
“She has to be … she’s different,” Morgan said. “She has to be vocal. She’s not a vocal player, and she has to be vocal as a coach. Our job is to correct when it’s wrong and acknowledge when it’s right.”
One of the benefits Mayer brings to the staff is that players can relate to her experiences as a player. While she never left the team, the players were excited to have her come back in a leadership position. Most of the players on that team played with Mayer for multiple years. One of those players is redshirt senior midfielder/forward Miranda Rigg. In her new role, Mayer has had to put her friendships aside for the betterment of the team.
“Sometimes, we have to set boundaries, but I respect her as a coach, and I respect her as a friend, too,” Rigg said. “I know she’s knowledgeable enough about the game where we’re all going to listen to her if she wants to give us pointers.”
Rigg acknowledges that Mayer misses being on the field as a player but loves to be around the team and wants to help the team succeed. At times, Mayer plays with the team during practice, which Rigg said is fun.
While helping the team out as a student coach, Mayer sees the possibility of pursuing a career as a coach. She said the most fulfilling part of this experience is seeing the development in the players.
“Just seeing people grow each day,” Mayer said. “I think sometimes when you’re in the moment as a player, you’re not as aware to the growth of teammates. But from a coaching perspective, when you see that lightbulb go off or that connection made, it’s really fulfilling, and those goals being scored from the sideline, you get the goosebumps just as much as you do when you’re in the game.”
Contact Jason Clampitt at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more field hockey coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.