GUILDERLAND — The first practice for Jen Sykes in her new gig as varsity field hockey coach at Guilderland High School comes early Monday morning.
“Right at 8 a.m.,” Sykes said Thursday. “I can’t wait.”
Sykes, a former Shenendehowa physical education teacher and coach, accepted a teaching position in the Guilderland Central School District earlier this summer. Guilderland athletic director Regan Johnson confirmed Thursday Sykes had agreed to lead the district’s field hockey program, too.
“She’s our coach,” Johnson said. “Jen is an experienced teacher and coach. Anytime you have the opportunity to make your programs better by hiring quality people, you need to consider that.”
Johnson said Sykes — along with each Guilderland fall sports coach — will be formally board-approved Tuesday.
Sykes, who replaces Lori Rafferty, runs the ADK Field Hockey club along with co-founder Phil Sykes, her husband and the field hockey coach at University at Albany. At Shenendehowa, Jen Sykes coached modified field hockey and varsity girls’ lacrosse.
“It was time for me to redirect my focus into one sport,” said Sykes, who previously cited the demands of coaching two school sports teams and with the ADK club as a top reason for leaving her past school coaching roles.
Sykes credited Rafferty — a varsity coach for one season — for leaving the Guilderland program in good shape.
“Now,” Sykes said, “the torch is to me to see what I can do with it.”
Sykes played both lacrosse and field hockey at East Stroudsburg University, and has experience coaching field hockey at the college level as an assistant.
She said the chance to build up the Guilderland program is an exciting challenge. Guilderland fell in the opening round of sectionals last year.
“What I like about Guilderland is the kids are very committed to being multi-sport athletes,” Sykes said. “This is going to be fun.”