Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
When Megan Guilbert arrived at a field hockey camp at Providence the summer before her freshman year of college, she was just expecting the usual drills and technique workouts. Little did Guilbert know that her future boss — VCU field hockey head coach Stacey Bean — would be coaching her.
The young field hockey goalkeeper didn’t think much of the relationship she created with Bean at the time, but years later it ended up manifesting into a job. This offseason, Guilbert joined the VCU staff to coach in goalkeeping and defensive strategies, among other day-to-day responsibilities.
“I never thought about it like that, but it just shows you that it matters, like how you treat people and who you are as a person and how you portray yourself every day,” Guilbert said.
The connection between Bean and Guilbert is rooted deeper than the camps that they attended, but it’s a part of a long-standing relationship with Providence’s head coach.
Bean said she always has a “short list” of possible assistant coaches to hire in the event one of her current assistants decides to move on from VCU. In this case, former assistant coach Kathi Weidman left the position to move closer to home, opening the position on the staff. This prompted Bean to turn to an old friend.
Diane Madl, Guilbert’s coach at Providence, has been friends with Bean for more than 30 years, according to the Rams’ coach. When the opening popped up, Bean knew who to turn to on her “short list.”
When Guilbert played at Providence, Weidman was an assistant coach on staff with the Friars.
“I know that both Kathi and Bert [Guilbert] have come from a system and a program in Providence that has the same value system as we do and I want to have here at VCU,” Bean said. “So you know that right there, that’s a no brainer [to hire Guilbert].”
At Providence, Guilbert was a standout goalkeeper, being named an All-Big East Second Team selection during her senior year.
“She knows the goalkeeping position very well and she knows the defensive principals really well,” Bean said. “She’s a little bit of a younger coach, but her hockey IQ is still very much at a level that we needed to be for those two purposes, right, with goalies in the defensive part.”
While working with goalkeepers, Guilbert can speak from experience to help the Rams’ goaltenders learn.
“I know the position and the habits that you can fall into that will eventually hurt you,” Guilbert said. “I can actually relate to how it feels because I’ve been there.”
Guilbert’s starting goalkeeper, senior Sasha Elliott, impressed in the team’s first game, logging 12 saves. In the team’s season opener, the No. 23 Rams fell to American 2-1 in overtime on Friday afternoon at Cary Street Field.
This is the first time Guilbert has worked with a college team she didn’t play for. With that comes learning an entire new roster, not only on the field but also off the field.
“This is the first time I’ve been immersed in a completely different environment with people that I didn’t play with,” Guilbert said. “A lot of the girls I’ve coached for a while were some of my teammates at one point in time at Providence.”
Guilbert was a graduate assistant at Providence after her playing career concluded. After that, she most recently made a stop at Monmouth as an academic support graduate assistant for student-athletes for almost a year.
She said while working on the other side of college sports in advising, it reminded her why the student-athletes are playing — to get an education.
“It’s so much bigger than just the sport, like it’s about them as people not as players, and like with field hockey, where they’re going to go when they’re done,” Guilbert said. “How is college field hockey going to help them prepare for the rest of their lives?”