Ask a Coach Miki Osherow, Director, Charlotte Ambush Field Hockey Club

Field hockey is growing stronger in North Carolina and Miki Osherow is one of the coaches behind the transformation.

Miki is the director of North Carolina's most popular club, Charlotte Ambush, and the head coach at Providence Day School. Charlotte Ambush's staff, led by Miki, works hard to promote the growth of the "whole athlete" and their approach has paid off — Charlotte Ambush currently ranks second on MAX Field Hockey's National Club Ranking and the staff has successfully walked their athletes through the college recruiting process since the club's start in 2008.

Miki sat down to answer your questions — received through the NFHCA social media platforms — about managing a club, advice for young coaches, and where club field hockey goes from here.

What has been your proudest moment as a coach?

I feel lucky to have several moments that pop into my head. I’ve coached for almost twenty years and I’ve seen kids do amazing things on the field, but more importantly I’ve seen them grow into amazing people. Seeing the parent of a 3rd grader cheer when their child scores their first goal, seeing the confidence that our young women and men have as they enter high school, seeing players enter college prepared with life skills we have worked on, and having former athletes come back to coach and work with me — those are my proudest moments.

What made you want to start coaching?

I just love this sport. I actually “walked away” several times to do things that I thought I was supposed to do, but I kept returning to the game that I love. I quickly realized that THIS is what I was supposed to do!

What's the best advice you can give young or new coaches?

Be yourself. We work with a lot of young coaches and we always encourage them to find their own voice, not the voice they think a coach should have.

And, to earn respect. You don’t get respect with the title of “coach” — you can’t demand it — you have to build trust and earn respect.

I’ve coached for almost twenty years and I’ve seen kids do amazing things on the field, but more importantly I’ve seen them grow into amazing people.

What made you want to start Charlotte Ambush?

It honestly all started pretty organically. I was coaching at Providence Day School and had student-athletes who were looking for playing opportunities outside of the fall season. We did one trip and it just developed from there. The name Ambush came from our first group of seniors. We were Charlotte Field Hockey Club at the time, but then the athletes came up with the name Ambush. They thought teams from other states would think playing a team from North Carolina was a “walk in the park,” so when we won, our girls would say we “ambushed” them!

As a club director, what are the top three tips you would give others who are trying to run a successful field hockey club?

  1. Build your own feeder programs.
  2. Find people you trust and then trust them to do their jobs. It’s hard to let go, but you’ll learn.
  3. Be flexible — adjust to your community’s needs, accept mistakes, and learn from them.
  4. And one more…focus on good communication.

What do you think is the next important development in American field hockey clubs?

I believe we need to focus on field hockey in middle schools and high schools before we can see exponential growth in clubs. We saw the biggest growth in the Charlotte area when we started partnering with schools to offer club teams that would compete like a traditional school team. Without hockey in schools, I find that most American parents think there is no future in the game for their kids, so they are hesitant to invest in the sport. We need hockey to be sanctioned in more states (it’s not yet in NC, so any help is welcome 😊) and offered in more schools!

For boys however, I think clubs will be the lifeline for our American boys. We need clubs to just start including boys and grow into having their own boys teams.

And, I think we need to empower the people at the grassroots level who are willing to be on the ground everyday developing and molding their programs to meet the needs of their communities. Every “development” area is different and the boots on the ground are the ones who understand their own community. We need to trust them and empower them.

Thank you, Miki! And thanks to everyone who submitted a question!

Want more answers? Catch some advice from University of North Carolina head coach, Karen Shelton, Trinity College assistant coach, Katie Kloeckener, and Shippensburg University head coach, Tara Zollinger!

Next month the National Field Hockey Coaches Association will be giving you another opportunity to “Ask a Coach,” so follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your chance to ask your coaching questions.

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