HAMDEN, Conn. – You can just feel the excitement in the room. Sitting behind her desk, Quinnipiac field hockey coach Becca Main is beaming more then a five year-old on Christmas morning. Entering her 22nd season as the head coach, it’s easy to see why if you know her. For years she has been working on a game plan to elevate the status of her program, and now that day has come.
On Friday, the Quinnipiac field hockey team will play their inaugural game in the Big East Conference when the Bobcats host Georgetown at Yale’s Johnson Field in New Haven. The university is pulling out all the stops, providing a fan bus to the game. The first 250 fans for the 2:15 p.m. bus will receive a complementary t-shirt, which commemorates the event. At 3 p.m., Quinnipiac field hockey will officially be a Big East team.
Last year, the Bobcats finished as co-MAAC regular season champions, and Main was named the conference’s coach of the year.
Quinnipiac faces the obstacle of joining one of the most prestigious conferences in field hockey. However, Main and the Bobcats are used to these types of challenges. Quinnipiac joined the MAAC in 2013, a step up in competiton from the Northeast Conference.
“You have to change a culture when you get to a level like this,” Main said. “As anyone will tell you in any sport, conference play is different. It doesn’t mater who it is– in conference play the whole physicality, mentality, and emotion changes. To play teams like UConn and Providence who we’ve played before, but you add the emotion that we are now conference foes, it changes how you enter a game.”
Planning has been essential to Main’s success. This is perfectly reflected in her office, which is littered with small white boards with plays and strategies drawn up. Joining the Big East was a plan that took years to execute.
“This has been something we’ve been working on for years. Our focus on having a strong out-of-conference schedule was made to make sure we played strong teams. Our scheduling was done to play teams from the Big East like Providence and UConn, but we also wanted to play other great teams like Penn State,” Main said.
“We had a plan, and that’s what this program has been about for 22 years. It’s about having a plan, and following through and being willing to take a step forward as opposed to just standing still.”
Without question, the plan has paid off. Quinnipiac finds itself on the big stage with some of the country’s top field hockey programs as conference foes.
Main believes that there were two major factors in getting the invitation.
First was the support of the Quinnipiac athletic department, which Main adamantly says, helped in the pitch meetings to the conference and their reputation for always looking to take another step forward in athletic development. Second was their performance on the field, where the Bobcats not only had a successful stint in the MAAC, but also competed well against teams on the national level.
While the present has Main and her staff excited, it’s the future that has the veteran coach delighted.
“Our 2018 class will be our first Big East class that we have recruited. Our recruiting has been focused on how this program is evolving and now how we have the opportunity to compete in a big time conference like the Big East. It used to be that I would compete for three top blue chip prospects every year and maybe get one every few years. Now, I’m getting three out of three. Our 2018 class we put out five offers and all have been accepted and I was shooting for people and we were able to get great kids coming in. Recruiting has been easier in the sense that people now look at the schedule and are excited to play against the teams we will now be playing. It has been eye opening this last year and recruiting has been easier and these players are excited because of the support Quinnipiac is giving this program and their excited to be a member of this conference. A 2018 freshman coming will probably be competing for a Big East title at some point of their career and I think that’s what is exciting”.
What was once a dream is now a reality. While the Bobcats will have a tough road ahead in establishing themselves as a Big East power, Quinnipiac has shown the ability to adapt and meet the challenge head-on. Who knows? Maybe in a few years, UConn and Quinnipiac will have one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport.
While the future is full of endless possibilities for Becca Main and her program, right now they’re enjoying the present in their new conference home.