Kristy Veazie Staples said taking over a state championship team won’t put any undue pressure on her as she replaces Katie Thompson as the field hockey coach at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport.
“When I took over (as the head coach) at Dexter (in 2011), there was a pretty good group, too,” said the 29-year-old Staples, who was the assistant coach and jayvee coach at Nokomis the last two seasons. “So it’s not like I haven’t had that experience before.
“I’m just going to take it as a new year, a new season and a new team. If you think about defending a state championship, it puts so much pressure on the kids,” said Staples.
Staples had taken over for her mother, Margaret Veazie, at Dexter and guided the Tigers to a 15-2 record and a berth in the Eastern Maine Class C final. But she resigned and landed at Nokomis, where she is also the junior varsity girls basketball coach.
Thompson coached the Warriors for 11 seasons and led them to Eastern Maine Class B championships in 2008, 2010 and 2013 and state titles in 2010 and 2013.
Nokomis went 18-0 last season.
Thompson resigned to take a job with the state’s Portland-based Great Schools Partnership, which specializes in proficiency-based education.
“I’m really excited,” said Staples. “We have a good group of juniors who will be seniors coming back. I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Nokomis will have seven seniors this fall as 15 of 21 players return.
Staples’ most pressing need will be replacing goalkeeper Kendra Underhill, whose eight saves sparked Nokomis’ 1-0 win over York in the state title game.
“Those are going to be big shoes to fill because we really didn’t have a backup last season,” said Staples.
Staples played on three Class C state championship field hockey teams for her mother at Dexter before graduating in 2002 and playing college field hockey at Bentley College (Mass.) for one year and the University of Maine-Farmington for three seasons.
She graduated from UMF with a degree in secondary education in 2006 and currently teaches health in the Dexter school system.
Staples said being the junior varsity basketball and field hockey coach has given her a healthy familiarity with her players.
She said she will prioritize having strong defensive teams and “building our offense off it.”
Staples also will preach versatility, stating that players should be able to play any position on the field.
Her teams will be aggressive on the attack, she said.
Nokomis athletic administrator Mark Babin said Staples is a good fit.
“She has a lot of enthusiasm and energy,” said Babin. “She did a fabulous job as the JV coach. I know she’ll do well.”
Staples was one of two applicants for the job.
Babin added that Cristina Mountain will be the new junior varsity coach.