By Steven Eggert
It is rare to find a duo as compatible as Rider field hockey coaches Lori and Dan Hussong. The husband and wife team took over the program in 2000, and have put together an impressive resume.
For the past 13 years, they’ve made the conference playoffs each year, played in nine conference championships, five conference titles, led the NCAA in defense the last three seasons, and recorded a .704 winning percentage over that time span.
Lori Hussong is the head coach and prepares players mentally and physically for every game.
“My job primarily is, [along] with another assistant Homero Pardi, to take over field concepts, get them conditioned, get them skilled and give them strategies to make them successful,” she said. “I do some recruiting too.”
Her husband, Dan Hussong is the assistant coach, and focuses on recruiting and goaltending. Lori Hussong credits her husband with getting great players, and making the Broncs one of the best defense in the country for the past three seasons.
“Dan’s the main recruiter, so he enjoys going out, calling kids and talking to them and then his most important job is goaltending,” she said. “We’ve had some great defenses in the last couple of years and outstanding goalkeepers. I’m relying on him to keep the ball out of the net for us as much as possible. This year’s been challenging. We have two freshmen goalies, but he’s doing a great job getting them ready for games and conference play.”
The Hussongs are encouraging on the sidelines.according to sinior Marlaine Schneider on their coaching style.
“Coach Lori and Coach Dan are both motivational,” Schneider said. “We could be up 8-0 and they still try and show us ways to make us even better. They know exactly what to do and say to lift the team up. I’ve had some rough patches, but they’ve always believed in me and it’s warming and touches the heart.”
One advantage of being married coaches is they have their own family. Dan Hussong feels that it provides a strong connection with not only the young players, but with their families when recruiting.
“I think that some parents are at ease thinking, ‘They’ll watch over my kids,’ so I think that works, especially with the kids overseas,” Dan Hussong said. “The parents see that and they’re very comfortable thinking, ‘Okay, she might be half a world away, but those people seem nice.’ They see how we pull family into the coaching scene, and they feel comfortable.”
Schneider agreed with her assistant coach that being married coaches is a positive aspect for the team.
“Being married is probably the best because they know what it takes to be a family and they want us as a team to be a family like them,” Schneider said. “I think it’s helped them in coaching and a key ingredient in 13 years of winning.”
Another benefit of being married coaches is they can talk a about the team off the field because they work and live together.
“It is an advantage because other people at the end of their long day, they hang their hat, and might go to their wife and be like ‘Oh, tough day,’” Dan Hussong said. “We can work on it, and come up with solutions. We give it a concentrated effort.”
Lori Hussong admits they might think about coaching a little too much.
“Sometimes our kids at home are like, ‘Okay let’s not talk field hockey,’” she said. “But its always on our minds, how can we make this team better? How can we get betterYou want to do the best jobs you can because it’s for the kids in our program, and I want them leaving here fulfilled not just as an athlete, but as a person. [I want to] give them the best experience possible.”
They have two sons, Michael and Tommy, and a daughter Colby. They’ve coached Michael and Tommy in basketball and Colby in field hockey since they were young kids.
Though they spend a lot of time with the field hockey team, family always comes first.
“We try to be parents first because it’s difficult,” Lori Hussong said. “They feel the pressure to excel at everything that they do because of us, and we try to keep it as mom and dad first and coach second.”
Dan Hussong enjoys sharing his love of coaching and sports with his wife.
“I think that you always like to share the best things in life with your partner,” he said. “Our favorite thing we share is athletics. We do this job because we love coaching. Grooming a group to success is satisfying, so it’s nice to do it together.”
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