New Hampden Academy coach anxious, excited to develop field hockey program

Posted Aug. 28, 2013, at 1:17 p.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — Amanda Pullen is no stranger to success.

When she played field hockey at Dexter High School, the Tigers won three straight state Class C championships.

After she joined Husson University, coach Katie (Flaherty) McCabe’s staff as an assistant coach, the Eagles captured two North Atlantic Conference championships.

Now she is hoping to transform her experience and success into a positive run for the Hampden Academy field hockey team.

The 28-year-old Pullen has replaced longtime Broncos coach Deanna Hessert, who resigned to spend more time with her children and grandchildren.

Hessert had replaced Ruth Fitzpatrick in 1997, a year after the Broncos had won the Eastern Maine Class B championship.

“I’m excited to be here. Things are going well,” said Pullen, who also played at the University of Maine-Farmington and was a field hockey referee.

Hampden Academy athletic director Mike Bisson said he was delighted to land her.

“She’s going to be a good one. We’re lucky to have her,” said Bisson. “She played at a top-notch high school program and played at a high level in college, and she’s very enthusiastic about the game. She brings a nice variety between refereeing, coaching and playing.

“She understands the game well and can share that with our kids. She can relate to them and keep them excited about the game,” added Bisson.

Pullen, who had been a volunteer coach at Dexter under her former coach Margaret Veazie, said she has learned a lot from all of her coaches and her two years at Husson were particularly valuable.

“I learned so much from Katie about field hockey not just from a player’s perspective but also from a coach’s perspective,” said Pullen. “I’m much more confident in this role now [because of it].”

She ran the summer program at Hampden Academy and is happy about establishing a solid field hockey for youngsters.

“The (Hampden) recreation department is going to have a field hockey program for girls in grades three through five this fall,” said Pullen, who has also been in contact with the coaches in the middle schools.

She said she would like to incorporate an uptempo style of play.

“I want to put pressure on the ball instead of dealing with a lot of pressure [on us],” said Pullen, who has been pleased with the receptiveness of the players.

“The girls are very team-oriented. They’re very nice girls. I didn’t realize they had such a family atmosphere at Hampden,” said Pullen. “You couldn’t ask for a better group of young ladies to work with. They’re willing to learn and are polite to each other. They’re a good-natured group and they have positive attitudes.”

She is stressing team play and play off the ball, and said she wants her team to play “smart field hockey. Pullen thinks she has talent on her team, and the goal is to qualify for the Eastern Maine Class A playoffs.

Hampden Academy went 2-10-2 and missed the playoffs a year ago.

“We’ve got a strong group of seniors and they are really good leaders. They have put a lot of time into field hockey. I’m also very optimistic about the younger players. We have a big group of sophomores, and I know a lot of them have gone to field hockey camp and stuff,” said Pullen. “I would like to crack the playoffs this year. It is something we can work toward and attain. I don’t want to stop playing after our last regular season game.”

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