Michelle Couch has been named the new field hockey coach for the Foxes, and she is hitting the ground running with a long list of plans to build upon past successes.
“I’m very thrilled to be a part of this program and look forward to growing the sport and winning more championships,” says the former four-year starter at Slippery Rock University. “This is a very talented team, but we lost seven or eight talented girls to graduation, three of whom who are playing Division I next fall. Therefore, next season will be a rebuilding and growing year for the program.”
Coach Couch already met with the team this month, and plans on getting a head start on the fall with voluntary practices twice a week over the summer. She is hopeful that a majority of the girls will be able to participate on a consistent basis.
“Starting on the first day, we’ll be implementing conditioning through agility and speed work as well as strength training,” she says. “We’ll keep skill work at the top of our priorities. I also asked the girls to tell me about their own skill levels and their individual and team goals, so we’ll be working on what they told me is necessary to be successful.”
A native of Easton, Pennsylvania, Coach Couch is also bringing with her an East-Coast style of play. Typically, high school teams from that area of the state dominate the PIAA tournaments. It’s something Coach Couch intends to change.
She explains, “There really is a different style of play where I grew up. The game is played at a faster speed and there is a lot of one-touch passing. I know the girls on this team are extremely talented, so I want to draw upon each individual’s talents to get the team to a point where we can get to the PIAAs and be very competitive.”
As a high school student herself, Ms. Couch played for legendary coach Sue Butz-Stavin and still keeps in close contact with her. Ms. Butz-Stavin has an all-time record of 900-79-35 in 42 seasons as a head coach at a high school close to where Coach Couch grew up, and was named the 2015 National High School Field Hockey Coach of the Year.
“She was a tremendous role model for me, and continues to be a mentor for me today,” Coach Couch says.
The new coach’s own background includes playing field hockey for Slippery Rock University where she was a four-year starter and a captain in her senior year. Last year she served as an assistant coach for the North Allegheny High School Field Hockey Team.
“I am really looking forward to applying my field hockey experiences and skills to continue to grow the program at Fox Chapel Area and win more championships,” Coach Couch says. “Fox Chapel Area will remain at the top of the WPIAL competition and we will be competitive when we get the opportunity to go to the PIAAs again.”