10B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 9, 1999
Field hockey coaches use internationa
experience to gain edge in Big Ten
By Michael Kern
Daily Sports Writer
This summer playing for the U. S. national
field hockey team in the Pan American Games,
Michigan assistant coach Tracey Fuchs was
forced to sit out of the United States' last two
games leading into the gold medal game
because of a 102 degree fever.
Although Fuchs was still recovering heading
into the finals, the national team captain turned
in a gritty performance in the Americans 5-2
loss to Argentina, setting up the game tying
goal just before the buzzer sounded to end the
Experiences like that one on the internation-
al level are what make the Michigan coaching
staff second to none in the nation.
"They are the best coaching staff in the
United States," senior Ashley Reichenbach
said. "They draw their knowledge from all
around the world."
Joining Fuchs on the national team this sum-
mer was assistant coach Peggy Storrar, who
started in goal for the Americans in the gold
medal game. Storrar allowed just five goals in
the four games she started, posting three
"Our two goalkeepers are getting one-on-
one teaching from the best goalkeeper in the
nation right now," Michigan coach Marcia
Pankratz said. "Not every school has that luxu-
At the helm for the Wolverines is Michigan
coach Marcia Pankratz whose experience on
the international level includes being a two-
time U.S. Olympian in 1988 and 1996, a World
Cup bronze medalist in 1994, and two-time Pan
American Games silver medalist in 1987 and
Pankratz and Fuchs combined have partici-
pated in over 250 international matches in the
United States. Pankratz knows that her experi-
ence and especially the experience of her assis-
tants this summer in the Pan American Games
give the Wolverines an edge over the rest of the
"(Tracey) brings back the latest techniques,
the latest ideas, and the latest tactics from the
international level," Pankratz said. "It brings
that directly to our program so that our kids are
at the cusp of learning all of the new and best
techniques in the world."
Besides the latest techniques and tactics, the
coaches also bring back to Michigan the latest
conditioning methods from around the world
the help the athletes and themselves remain in
"Our conditioning in the summer is at the
highest level, Reichenbach said. "You could
watch one practice and see drills from six dif-
ferent countries. When we are out there doing
workouts they are right there running with us,
and that makes us go that much harder."
Probably the most important aspect of the
coaches international experience is their ability
to relate to the players as athletes, having just
experienced for themselves exactly what the
players are going through now.
"When we ask them questions they under-
stand everything we are going through and
where we have been..." sophomore Ali Balmer
said. 'They know everything it takes, mentally
and physically" Reichenbach said.
While Pankratz and Fuchs have shared simi-
lar paths on the field, playing together for the
national team for over a decade, their reasons
for coaching and their path to Michigan are
Initially, Fuchs only entered the college
coaching ranks to stay in the game whilor ee
continued her playing career for the .S.
national team. Because of limited influence
over the teams she worked with as an assistant,
Fuchs didn't enjoy the work.
But once she joined Michigan, she gained
the freedom to make decisions about the
Wolverines tactics on the field.
One' tactic that Fuchs brought back from
international competition is the zone defense
that the Wolverines have implicated to hold
opponents to just seven goals in their first four
"There are no more offsides in field hoc e-
so a lot of teams have switched from man-to-
man to zonal play with so much more of the
field open' Fuchs said, "Seeing other coun-
tries' zones and our own zone with the U.S.
team, I am able to tweak our defensive zone"
While Fuchs took a while to warm to her job
on the sideline, Pankratz began her coaching
career because of her love of teaching. Pankratz
comes from a family of teachers. Her father
taught school for more than 40 years.
Before becoming a collegiate coach,
Pankratz taught math in high school for a few
years. Field hockey offered her the opportunity
to combine her love of sport and her love of
"I'm passionate about (field hockey) and I
love being around young people and helping
them to become successful young women
when they leave Michigan," Pankratz said. "It
just happens that field hockey is my vehicle to
The Michigan field hockey team has taken advantage of its coaches' experience on the international
level to develop one of the top defenses in the nation.
Williams to play despite injury
NEW ORLEANS-- Ricky Williams, the fifth pick in
the NFL draft, is practicing with the New Orleans Saints
again and will play in Sunday's season opener against the
Carolina Panthers in the Louisiana Superdome.
The rookie running back says he's still feeling pain
after severely spraining his left ankle three weeks ago,
but feels he can play despite the injury.
"It's easy to play with pain," Williams said. "That
hasn't been the problem the whole time. The whole thing
wal to make sure I don't re-injure it. But now it's past
that point. So it's all up to how much pain I can tolerate."
Williams practiced Monday for the first time since
the injury and will practice again with Saints during their
next session Wednesday.
"He looked good to me;" coach Mike Ditka said. "Is
he 100 percent? No, he's not 100 percent. But I bet you
Ditka said he would only hold back Williams from
playing if he gets injured during practice this week.
"There's no question he'll start Sunday unless some-
thing stupid happens. That can always happen, but we
hope not," Ditka said.
Williams ran 15 plays in the team portion of
Monday's two-hour workout in helmets, shoulder pads
and shorts. He also did some extra conditioning running
His work load will increase as the week progresses.
Williams sprained his ankle on his ninth carry of the
preseason during the team's exhibition opener against the
Miami Dolphins on Aug. 13.
Offensive coordinator Danny Abramowicz said
Williams looked good during Monday's practice.
"Once he got warmed up, he was fine," Abramowicz
said. "I didn't see him favor the leg. He looked good."
tarts at 7:00 p ,m .! Be there earl I ''
Saturday, Sept. 11 vs. Arkansas 8 p.m.
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U-M Students admitted free of charge!
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