Ask a Coach Katie Fost, Head Coach, York College

After Katie Fost graduated from Salisbury University with a degree in exercise science and a 2009 National Championship under her belt, she wound her way through a master's degree and a couple assistant coaching posts before landing at York College of Pennsylvania.

In her third year as the head coach at YCP, Katie has learned that the foundation of a program's success lies in a team's culture. As part of our Ask a Coach series, Katie agreed to sit down discuss her approach to laying that foundation as well as answer other coaching-related questions collected from our NFHCA followers.

What do you do to motivate your team?

I think that I really show my athletes that I’m here to make them the best possible student-athlete and person that they can be within their four years as a Spartan. The relationships that I’m building, I think, are the motivation for them to go out and get after it on the field, in the classroom, and out in the community. Without trust and personal connection I don’t think anything else would really work for all that I ask of them.

What is your best advice to parents — especially first year parents — who are navigating the world of college field hockey?

I think it’s important for parents to understand that your daughter needs to become an excellent communicator with her coach and to lean in to what is challenging. We embrace adversity and challenges because we believe it will result in growth. Find the balance of supporting your daughter, but encouraging her to embrace what’s hard, to persevere, and to reach out to her coach when she needs anything. Let your daughter lead the way.

Was it hard to find a coaching position after college?

I had a unique experience because I actually wasn’t looking to enter the coaching world. I received my first master's degree in cardiopulmonary rehab. But when a friend was named the head coach Goucher College, she invited me to join her, and I couldn't say no.

When it came to finding the right move for me after Goucher, I wouldn’t say it was hard to find a position thanks to the job board on NFHCA.org, and now you can even drop your resume into the NFHCA Resume Bank, which makes the first step to a change or a start to your coaching career easier. My advice is to be diligent in making sure you find the best fit for you. Consider what you want to learn, who you want to learn from, and what opportunities to grow professionally are offered to you.

What was the most difficult part of taking over a program so close to preseason?

Recruiting. I took over the program two days before the start of preseason and I knew I wanted to find the next group of Spartans who fit my values and goals, so I basically started all over when it came to the class of 2018. There was a balance of developing a relationship with the team, implementing core values, but recruiting was the most difficult to accomplish during that time frame.

What do you consider to be the most important quality in a York College recruit?

Character — who you are and how you act, matter. This is said all the time within our program. More times than not, my first look at a recruit is out on the field and seeing if they have the athletic capability to join our program. However, the next step of interacting and meeting that recruit far outweigh what they do athletically. Character trumps talent. We seek the best of both worlds.

What is your favorite memory with YCP field hockey?

Our trip to Spain during our winter vacation this year. It is certainly a memory that I will cherish forever. I’m really big into observing, and I loved watching my team soak in every minute of that trip.

You went to Spain?! What are the benefits of taking your team abroad?

We visited Spain for 10 days and there were a ton of benefits for my team. We took advantage of the ten practices before Spain, and then had three private training sessions and three games while we were abroad, along with tons of other activities: walking tours, bike tours, cooking classes, dancing lessons, and so much more. We then still get to have our spring season, so for a team of 17 underclassmen, nine of them freshmen — all the additional hockey is a huge growing opportunity for us. It’s also a trip of a lifetime for the team — the shared experience only strengthens the bonds that they’ve already created, which will continue to strengthen what we can achieve within our program.

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

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