Former Player Follows Footsteps to Bring Coaching Experience Full Circle

Jul 1, 2020 12:00 PM

By Rose Gause '20

massino-whitney.jpgLegendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden's advice to his players focused on their lives as much as their sport. He knew how a coach could inspire a young person's life in ways that would ripple down through generations.

The coaching partnership of Kelly Massino '09 and Tara Whitney '18 follows that pattern.

Massino was Whitney's assistant varsity field hockey coach at Rockville High School. The coach inspired the student to study at her alma mater. And now they coach together at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, inspiring another generation of young women.

Whitney is forever grateful that Massino led her to FSU, saying she would not trade her college experience for anything.

"Since Kelly was my coach, I have always looked up to her. She has become my best friend. ... She has taught me so many things about field hockey and life," says Whitney. In addition to being coaching colleagues, they ran a half marathon together and have been to Mexico twice.

Whitney started playing field hockey her first year of high school as a midfielder and continued throughout college. After college, she planned to become a full-time teacher and coach because of her mentor's inspiration.

She has achieved her goals and is now a full-time health and physical education teacher at Silver Creek Middle School in Montgomery County and an assistant coach for the Good Counsel Falcons Field Hockey team.

Massino became the head field hockey coach at the Olney, Md., school in 2016. She is also a physical education and health teacher. She found her own passion for field hockey her first year of high school and knew it was something she would pursue after graduation. In high school she played right wing, for her club team she played center back and at Frostburg she was a midfielder.

Massino knew Whitney would be a huge asset to the team because of her academic background and great rapport with the athletes, so after graduation she gave her the opportunity at Good Counsel to get her coaching career started.

I knew Tara would make a great coach because she is extremely passionate about what she does. "I love coaching with Tara. She is not only a great coach to my athletes, but she is a wonderful teammate for me as well," says Massino.

Whitney views coaching alongside Massino as a learning experience.

"She comes to practice every day with new ideas and is constantly changing things to be more successful," Whitney says. "I admire her coaching ability and hope to be just like her one day."

The pair's key coaching advice focuses on student-athlete mindset and being a role model.

"It's not about winning and losing. It's about going out there each day with a new mindset that something great is going to happen," says Whitney.

Massino says she received the best coaching advice from her high school athletic director who explained that he didn't care if she ever won a game. What was important is that she be the best role model she can be for her athletes.

"I always instill that in any coach that I hire. Although we are there to teach girls about field hockey, we are role models in so many avenues of life," says Massino.

Their team finished 11-10 in the 2019 season, then won a nail-biter of a championship game for their second consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title, a feat of resilience that some compared to the World Series-winning Washington Nationals.