Slippery Rock University hired Rayell Heistand as the new head coach of the women’s field hockey team, in hopes that she could lead that group of women through multiple winning seasons.
Heistand plans to shape the team to her standards by instilling confidence and strength upon her team. Many changes are out of her control and this has changed the plan for this fall. Heistand said, “We are not focusing on the X’s and O’s and lineups.” Rather, the focus is shifted toward that mentality that will carry the team through a spring season with an unprecedented future. Having a strong mentality comes from both the weight room and the mental rigors these student athletes focus on. “The team’s goal is to be the most fit team in the conference.” Fitness goes beyond the field and Heistand has a plan in place to make it happen.
Similarly, like other sports at SRU, the field hockey team is holding voluntary practices to maintain the safety of all individuals. With COVID-19 regulations making things difficult, the only mandatory gatherings for field hockey are team meetings. Otherwise, players are able to sign up for weight room slots, field time within small groups and one-on-one time with the coaches.
Heistand’s approach is to “control what we can control and focus on the process.” As a first-year coach here at The Rock, this approach is being formed to better the team. “The team philosophy is to develop student athletes into confident women who can make a positive impact in their community by instilling respect and accountability,” says Heistand.
It is no surprise that Heistand has such great passion for coaching a game that she grew up around. She followed in the steps of her mother, who also was a field hockey coach for over 20 years. From a young age, she found that same passion for the game and took it to the field as a four-year starter at UConn, then going on to graduate in 2012. The following semester she was hired as assistant coach at Lafayette College, and went on to be assistant coach at Miami University, in Ohio. In between that time, Heistand was named to the USA Women’s National Field Hockey Team and remained as a member for a few years.
Besides the impressive resume, Heistand plans to instill many core values within the field hockey program, making her stand out even more. “Respect and accountability are the two pillars in the program.” In order to do this, “It must be a practice on and off the field by respecting both yourself and others,” says Heistand. The values she plans to instill in these women is not only going to make them better student athletes, but it is going to help them apply these skills to real life scenarios after graduation. This coaching style is completely open and honest, and Heistand is always straight to the point with “no fluff.”
While Heistand is busy keeping her current players in line, she along with assistant coach Missy Revesz are also busy with recruiting. They both have plenty of film to watch, and plan to mask up and head East to check out some high school games for the next round of incoming players.
Heistand is most excited about the challenges ahead as she endures her first season as head coach at SRU in the middle of a pandemic. It is obvious that the standards for this team are set high and accountability will be the key to success in the upcoming season.