Former Iowa field hockey player turns to coaching


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The assistant coach knows how it feels.

Meghan Beamesderfer can empathize with the tough practices. She knows all about the vigorous conditioning drills, the countless repetitions, and the nit-picky emphasis on technique.

“I’ve been through everything they’re going through,” she said. “I have the perspective from their side and now a perspective from the coach’s side.”

Not long ago, Beamesderfer was wearing Iowa field-hockey team shoes, practicing and competing under head coach Tracey Griesbaum. The Lititz, Pa., native, now a second-year assistant coach, played for the Hawkeyes from 2006-09.

The two-time All-American was asked by Griesbaum to be an undergraduate assistant in 2010. Beamesderfer jumped at the chance, while finishing up her final semester.

“That got my feet a little wet,” she said.

Aside from perspective, Beamesderfer brings a certain prowess to the team. She’s played on the bigger stages of college field hockey — in 2008, she led the Hawkeyes to their then-third-consecutive Big Ten title, as well as a trip to the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

Those experiences are a key part of what helps her coach the current players. She knows what it’s like to play at an all-American level and pushes the athletes to achieve that style of play.

She tends to bond especially well with this year’s senior class. Beamesderfer played with them during her senior campaign in 2009.

“I know their tendencies a little bit better,” she said. “Just kind of knowing what they’re thinking in the game and being able to understand and help them get better.”

The relationship between Beamesderfer and her former teammates has blossomed in a similar fashion that her and the head coach’s connection has evolved over the years.

Beamesderfer said she loves working with Griesbaum, adding that they mesh really well. Griesbaum has enjoyed watching her transition from athlete to coach, saying it looked easy because of her familiarity with the routine. But the process, according to the head coach, “is still evolving.”

“She knows the direct understanding of knowing the demands of being an elite-level athlete,” the head coach said. “It gives them a sense of confidence, and also allows the current players to have another mentor or role model.”

That kind of leadership trickles down to their players and specifically the defensive line, where Beamesderfer played as a student. She has a slightly better connection with those players, simply because of her history.

But she doesn’t limit herself, saying that she’s developed a relationship with all three lines on the field. It’s a part of the job, especially when Iowa takes advantage of its versatility.

“We have a lot of players that can do a lot with the ball,” sophomore midfielder Dani Hemeon said. “Everybody interchanges all over the field, so it really helps us out.”

Just because Beamesderfer is now a full-time assistant for Iowa, though, doesn’t mean she’s done playing. She will leave for Ireland on Thursday to travel and train with the U.S. Development Field Hockey Team.

The way she sees it, the more of that kind of experience she gets, the better off her pupils will be.

“It’s definitely the highest level of field hockey you can get,” Beamesderfer said. “Hopefully [the experience] will help me get these girls to play at a higher level, too.”

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