Day in the Life of Natalie Holder Assistant Coach, Old Dominion University

Natalie Holder began her coaching career in 2010 as an assistant coach at Christopher Newport University after she graduated from Kent State University with her bachelor's and master's degrees. After her time at CNU, Holder moved north to Syracuse University where she served as an assistant coach for two seasons and helped the Orange to a Final Four appearance in 2012. In 2013 she joined the staff at Old Dominion University where she has remained as the assistant coach under Andrew Griffiths for six seasons.

Natalie sat down to detail her day as a Division I assistant coach at one of the most historic field hockey programs in the NCAA.

4:30 a.m. —Spring season wake up! This spring we are playing in the Big Apple Indoor Tournament for the first time, so we have early-morning hockey sessions.

Every morning I wake up around 4:30 a.m. and am out the door by 5:15 a.m. — I always make sure I have a cup of tea in hand to start my day! I have a short five-minute car drive to work and each morning I call home to Scotland to say “hi” to my mum and dad on my commute.

6:00 a.m. — Hockey Session: training part one of the day! The team is up and at it early, then many head off to their 8:00 a.m. class.

Each week we have a specific focus for practice for the whole team — this week is our final training block before the Big Apple Tournament, so at today's training session we split into our teams to fine tune our preparation for the tournament. With my team we had a structural and tactical session. Our key focus for practice was our pressing strategies — we have three key presses, so we were working on clarifying specific pressing lines with the forwards and understanding lanes we wanted to protect with each press. Our second key focus was our outletting structure and off-ball movement.

The team enjoying an early-morning indoor session!

7:30 a.m. —Quick meeting! We typically meet as a staff right after practice to debrief on the session and talk over areas we need to cover for the next day.

8:00 a.m. —Time to work out! I stayed at the rec center to get my workout in. I try to use this time to work out or sometimes Andrew (our head coach) and I will go and get breakfast and catch up on recruiting, camps and clinics. We have a favorite spot off campus in the Ghent area that we like to go to called "Taste" (highly recommend for all visiting teams!).

9:00 a.m. — Office Work! First thing on the list is camps and clinics. We are hosting two spring play days in March for U14/U16 and U19 age groups and have lots of local club teams attending. I had to confirm final numbers with coaches and put together a game schedule to email out. I then spent some time on our summer camps — we closed registration this week, so I had lots of emails and calls to high school coaches and parents regarding registrations and final details for payments.

10:00 a.m. — Once this was complete, I shifted gears to recruiting. I go over my notes from the U19 National Indoor Tournament and work on a final itinerary for our 2019 official visits in March. We have five incoming players and their families coming to campus in a few weeks and will have meetings regarding academics, compliance, summer school, etc., so I am working on finalizing all the details for their visit.

11:30 a.m. — Continuing with recruiting, at 11:30 a.m. I had a FaceTime call from an international recruit to go over some questions that she had regarding the American collegiate system. As an international myself, I can relate to many of the recruits and always enjoy highlighting my experiences and what the college system has to offer.

I had a a fellow Scottish coach, Michelle, from women’s soccer, stop by my office to say “hi." I always enjoy interacting with other coaches in the department. I make a point of going to the other buildings to see what other sports teams are up to and say “hi” to our administrators from time to time. We have a really strong coach/admin culture here at ODU, so it is always nice to check in with them.

1:15 p.m. Training session part two of the day! The team participates in a running session outside and then a lift. As a staff, we are at every running and lifting session throughout the semester. We enjoy being a part of all aspects of training with the team. Aaron Rittgers is our new strength and conditioning coach and he has done a wonderful job so far with the team for the last seven weeks, bringing great energy and excitement into the weight room. His approach is very collaborative and he has incorporated some of his sessions into our on-field hockey training.

The ODU strength and conditioning space!

3:30 p.m. — Check-in meeting with a player. I am definitely a player’s coach and try to touch base and connect with a few players a week. I enjoy catching up on their life and hearing anything they want to share about life outside of hockey.

4:00 p.m. —Our staff takes time to sit down and recap the day, finalizing practice plans for tomorrow.

4:30 p.m. —I head on over to Muddy Paws, a doggie daycare across from campus, to pick up our puppy, Leo! Ha…he is a spoiled dog and goes there to play a few days a week.

Leo takes full advantage of what Norfolk has to offer!

5:30 p.m. —Back at home — this is the time I spend with my husband, Ian. The weather was great, so we went for a run in Downtown Norfolk by the water, made dinner and caught up on each other’s days. Most days after work we go workout together…go on a run, hit up Orange Theory or play tennis.

7:30 p.m. — I followed up on emails that I missed when at our afternoon training session.

8:30 p.m. —I take some time to relax and watch some TV…my current go-to show is “This is Us.”

9:30 p.m. —It’s 9:30 p.m. and I am out! One of the incredibly unique aspects about my job that I love is that every day is different. From on-field hockey training, to player relationships, recruiting, fundraising campaigns, camps and clinic organization…we cover so many areas on a day-to-day basis which I really enjoy. As I wind down from this day, I feel very fortunate to be in a profession that I have so much passion for and truly love.

Thank you Natalie! Tune in next month when we detail a day in the life of another National Field Hockey Coaches Association member.

If you enjoyed this article, check out a few questions with Lindsay Jackson, four coaches favorite things about their jobs and Tara Zollinger's answers to your questions!

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