On any given NCAA Division 1 team, there can be a multitude of staff delegated to perform certain roles. But for Hilbert College Women’s Soccer Head Coach Jenna Castricone, most of it falls on her.
As a division III program Hilbert doesn’t have the funding or staffing of big programs so, like many of her colleagues at that level, she needs to wear many hats to keep her team going
“It’s a lot more than I assumed coming in, but I’ve been grateful,” Castricone said.
In speaking of her return to the Hawks in 2019 Castricone, a Hilbert soccer alumnus, said returning to her old stomping grounds has been great.
“I was excited and glad to be back here,” Castricone said. “I love the school and I love the atmosphere.”
Castricone, who also played softball and earned her bachelor’s degree in Sports Management went on to get her Master’s in Sports Administration at Canisius College. Along the way, she was an assistant coach.
“I’m very appreciative to be given the chance to get the team on track,” she said.
During her first season, Castricone faced several challenges. First and foremost, she knew a re-build was in order, with the number of players dwindling. Second, some of the players were new to the game and came onto the team as walk on’s. Towards the end, Castricone said the team made improvements
“Offense scored nine goals last season,” she said. “Even that slight improvement is the right way up”.
Still, defense was identified as a critical area.
Castricone has spent a considerable amount of time scouting and recruiting. It is the kind of work that makes the part time job seem full time and her efforts show a promising season.
“I have a strong freshmen class and they’re even challenging the seniors,” Castricone said.
The freshmen class includes five experienced players whom she is confident will help, as well as one Sophomore walk-on.
“Four additional recruits would have been on the roster but circumstances surrounding COVID prevented them from playing,” She said. “Even so, the next class that will be brought in for 2021 is going to be even better and I’m looking to get the team back into the playoffs.”
From Thanksgiving break until February, it will be up to the individual players themselves to maintain peak physical conditioning. Castricone said.
“(The players) need to be fit and touching the ball at least 4 days a week,” she said.
In terms of overlap, some student athletes participate in other sports such as volleyball and basketball which makes injuries and fatigue a concern, let alone COVID, for Castricone. To help, Castricone prepared a work out package which consists of weight training, endurance skills (sprints, tempo runs), and ball drills.
Castricone said the off-season improvements look promising.
And there’s one adage she believes sums up the situation: “Small improvements help in the long run.”