Sisters continue family coaching tradition with Dexter field hockey program
DEXTER — The Dexter Regional High School field hockey program is very much a family affair.
Margaret Veazie, who guided the Tigers to six state Class C championships, stepped down after last season and has left her two daughters to run the show.
Brittany McAllister and Kristy Staples were two of her assistant coaches last year, but now Brittany is the head coach and Kristy has remained an assistant.
They guided the youthful Tigers (12-4 heading in), the No. 2 seed, to a berth in Class C North championship game against top seed Winthrop (15-1) at Thomas College in Waterville on Oct. 24. Dexter and Winthrop didn’t play during the regular season.
Margaret Veazie said she knew the coaching partnership between her daughters would work.
“They have different personalities. Brittany is more apt to be a head coach, and you couldn’t ask for a better assistant coach than Kristy,” Veazie said. “Brittany is a little tougher. As a head coach, you have to be firm, clear and concise with what you do. She’s a disciplinarian.”
“Kristy can also be tough, but she likes to smooth things over. She makes people happy,” Veazie said.
Kristy Staples, who had head coaching stints at Dexter and Nokomis High School of Newport, admits she wasn’t cut out for being a head coach.
“I didn’t want to be the mean person, the tough one,” she said.
Staples, 34, also was a bit apprehensive about working as an assistant to her sister.
“I have way more coaching experience than Brittany, so I was a little nervous at first,” Staples said. “But Brittany has done a phenomenal job for her first head coaching job.”
The two have meshed in their respective roles.
“Like mom, she has been very accepting of ideas I have and the other coaches have,” Staples said.
McAllister, 32, moved back to Dexter two years ago after spending six years in North Carolina where she was a middle school athletic administrator.
“It has been real good to have her [Staples] around. I had been out of field hockey for a while,” McAllister said.
Staples, who was an all-region player at the University of Maine-Farmington, teaches health at Dexter. McAllister, an All-American at Springfield College, teaches health at Central High in Corinth, so Staples has more exposure to the Dexter players.
“She does more of the mothering and keeping the kids in line. She has to deal with all the hassles during the day like if one of the kids forgets something,” McAllister said. “When I show up, I take over from there and give her a break. It works out good for us.”
The sisters say they pretty much follow the blueprint that was laid out for them by their mother, whose teams won two state championships when she was coaching her daughters.
“Why fix something that isn’t broken?” Staples said. “Mom was very successful. She knew what she was doing.”
The sisters work together on game plans and said they have been fortunate to have a top-notch coaching staff that includes veteran coach Jennifer Batron along with Peyton Watson and Devyn Bell.
And they know they can always call mom, who spends considerable time with her three young grandsons, Nolan and Keenan Staples, and Declan McAllister.
“I’m the team’s grandmother,” Veazie said.
The Tigers got off to a shaky start with three straight losses after a season-opening win. They have gone 11-1 since, including a 2-1 win over Class B Foxcroft Academy, which beat them 5-0 early in the season, and a 2-1 semifinal win over Mount View of Thorndike, which beat them twice during the regular season.
During the 11-1 stretch, they have allowed only seven goals.
The presence at sweeper of senior Autumn Irving anchors a solid back line that includes senior Bella Adam and sophomores Kaitlyn Gray and Lilah McCormack.
Sophomore Cheyenne Beem, the only returning forward, and sophomore Kassandra Gray, have been two of the offensive catalysts along with senior midfielder Victoria Asbury.
Senior Amanda Haskell and junior Shawnee McNally have been the goalkeepers for the Tigers, who have 13 freshmen and sophomores on their 18-player roster.