By Dan Guttenplan
---- — Newburyport High teacher Nicole Twomey is in the midst of her first season as the head coach of the Masconomet hockey team. Prior to accepting the head coaching job at Masconomet, she played four years of hockey at the University of New Hampshire, and coached the junior varsity boys hockey team at Newburyport. Last year, she served as an assistant coach of the Masconomet girls team.
Masconomet is a co-op team with a combination of players from Masco, Newburyport, Triton, North Andover, Georgetown and Hamilton-Wenham. The Daily News checked in with Twomey yesterday for an update on her first season as the Masco head coach.
How is the team doing?
“We’re 4-2 right now, so things are going really well.”
How are the local players doing?
“It all gets mixed together; we have a mixture of girls from different lines. I can tell you we have three players from Triton, and now we have five players from Newburyport.”
Are any of those girls leading the team?
“Kendra Dow, a senior from Newburyport, is for sure. Megan Hubbard, a freshman from Newburyport, is playing well on defense. This is the most depth we’ve ever had. It’s tough to single out players. I stress the idea of playing as a team. We need to be a melting pot with six different schools.”
Is it difficult to get organized when you have players coming from six schools?
“The additional challenge I’m up against this year is I can’t make cuts. A co-op team can’t make cuts. So anyone who comes out, we have to keep. I have a team of 25 girls from six schools.”
Have you done more team-building exercises than you normally would if you were coaching girls from one school?
“I try to do team-building activities once a week. We have a dry-land workout once a week, and we always do something, whether it’s thought-provoking or more funny physical experiences. I think the relationship that’s formed is vital on the ice because these girls are not in the same classroom during the day.”
Can you give an example of a team-building exercise?
“One thing I really wanted to stress this year is community service. Unfortunately, we only have one day off a week, and that’s Sunday. So instead of doing something for community service together as a team, I asked the girls to do 26 acts of kindness. It’s a theme that’s gone viral on Facebook. In the next week, each of the girls will do 26 random acts of kindness, and we’ll share with each other on Tuesday.”
Were any of the girls standoffish about forming a team with girls they might compete against in other sports?
“There hasn’t been any of that at all. I think what they enjoy is the uniqueness of the team. They love forming friendships outside of the hallways of their respective schools.”
Was it difficult to establish chemistry between players?
“I think it’s the same as anywhere else. I don’t think I have any more of a challenge in finding chemistry than other coaches. You find what works, regardless of the players’ background or where they played youth hockey. You find the lines that work.”
Eventually, is your goal to coach a team from one school like Newburyport?
“I’m certainly grateful for this opportunity to coach a very unique bunch of girls. However, when I look at my long-term vision for myself and the growth of the sport, I stand by the fact that, down the line, with the way girls hockey continues to grow, each of these schools will have its own team. That’s the ideal. We’re years off from that, but we have some supportive people in administration that also support that vision. We’re in good shape. Would I like to coach Newburyport? Absolutely, but we’re a ways off.”
The Masco team is a co-op among Masco, Newburyport, North Andover, Georgetown, Hamilton-Wenham and now Triton