Bishop England’s field hockey club has a lot to celebrate amid the condensed winter sports season that was cut short by COVID-19. A slew of canceled practices and scrimmages culminated with the end of a coaching era and a transition to an optimistic future.
A change in leadership took place recently for the first time in the club’s three-year history. BE head coach Andrea Dussault, original founder and president of Charleston Field Hockey, has named staff member Aimee Burgos as the next head coach.
Burgos will not only be BE’s head coach, but club administrator and board president of Charleston Field Hockey. This past season Burgos shared the role with Dussault, but the upcoming fourth season starting in November will be solely hers.
“I know the players, I’ve gotten to know the community and I’m very excited for the future of it,” Burgos exclaimed.
Prior to spending the last three seasons working with Dussault, Burgos previously coached varsity field hockey and lacrosse at a high school in Portland, Maine. She joined Bishop England in 2018, during the same time that Dussault was launching the program.
“It was an absolute godsend when I got the call from Aimee two-and-a-half years ago,” Dussault said. “It was just music to my ears. I could not have done all this without her.”
Dussault, a Connecticut native with a 35-year career in the sport, moved to the Lowcountry in 2015 to grow the game in the south. She left behind a youth field hockey league she founded up north. Now, she’s passing the baton off to Burgos.
“Bishop England (field hockey) has been the foundation of getting these high school teams up and running so that hopefully we can spread throughout the Lowcountry — that’s the ultimate goal,” Dussault said.
Bishop England is rated as the top private school in the state for field hockey, alongside Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville. BE is the only high school in all of Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties that offers field hockey as a club sport or at any level.
BE’s field hockey season, which normally runs November through January, was shrunk to five weeks worth of practices and scrimmages due to the pandemic. One canceled game with Carolina Curse Academy from Lancaster is likely to be rescheduled on a Saturday in February or March.
With no other schools in the area to play against, the 46 players on the BE team scrimmage each other, with 23 girls on each side.
Sixteen seniors graduated last year who were seen as the founders of the field hockey program. No team captains were named but several players stood out in the minds of Dussault and Burgos.
Seniors Grace Skulkety and Liza Reidenbach will be missed at the forward and midfield positions, along with the other 14 seniors who will be graduating this June.
As for returning juniors, Ali Blanchard and Mary Provost on defense, with Aisling Sharpe and Caroline Deitrich at midfield will be strong points for the unit.
In addition, freshman Catherine Griswold and sophomore Connie Bui stepped up as the two new goalies for the team.
The 2021 roster will feature a handful of returning players, not to mention there will be three groups of sisters on the team.
“It gives these females another opportunity outside of what they normally are offered,” Dussault added. “To see how quickly they catch on to the sport and how much fun they have with it I think is the reason why our number (of players) continues to stay as high as
Burgos noted that turning the club into a varsity sport is a future possibility, predicated on how much interest is generated among neighboring school districts moving forward.
“Introducing a brand new sport to an area of the country that has never heard of field hockey takes a little while,” Burgos added. “We’re in no rush but certainly the sky’s the limit.”