Aug 22, 2013
DAVIS, Calif. – Mary Kathryn Nielsen and Whit Ryan have been hired as UC Davis field hockey’s new assistant coaches as announced by interim head coach Austin Pile.
“Both individuals have been involved with the sport for most of their lives and bring a tremendous amount of experience with them to Davis,” said Pile regarding his new assistants.
In addition to handling various administrative duties, Nielsen will work closely with the Aggies' midfielders with Ryan focusing his instruction on UC Davis’ corps of goalkeepers.
Nielsen begins her coaching career mere months after earning her bachelor’s degree from Duke. A four-year starter at midfield, her success on the field as a Blue Devil mirrored her accomplishments off it; in addition to scoring 16 goals (including six game-winners) and recording 11 assists, she was a three-year National Field Hockey Coaches Association, All-ACC Academic and Dean’s List honoree.
At 14, Nielsen was chosen to represent her province, British Columbia and, shortly thereafter, began competing as a member of the Canadian Junior National Field Hockey team.
Two years later, she was invited to train and compete as a member of Canada’s Senior National Team where she participated in a Four Nations tournament and received senior caps against such teams as Chile, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States.
Ryan also possesses international field hockey experience as he competed in Europe after beginning his competitive playing career at the club level in Ohio.
When he returned to the States, Ryan crossed the sidelines and began his career as a coach at the high school and collegiate level while enrolled at the University of Colorado - ultimately receiving his undergraduate degree in 2012.
Throughout his 10 years as a goalkeepers coach, many of Ryan’s players continued their playing career at some of the top Division I programs in the nation; a handful also received invitations to train with, and compete as a member of U.S. Field Hockey.
Ryan also provides the UC Davis coaching staff a unique perspective on the game as a former Colorado field hockey official with extensive experience.
With UC Davis’ season opener rapidly approaching, both Nielsen and Ryan are eager to take the field to help their team take full advantage of their final weeks of preseason practice.
“Since I just finished my last season at Duke, everything I learned as a student-athlete is still fresh in my mind. I want to focus, at first, on stick angle and reception, foot angles and scanning the field. These are things the average player may not invest as much time on, but are critical for achieving success,” said Nielsen.
Adds Ryan, “I am looking forward to assessing my goalkeepers and helping them adjust their habits and techniques to help them become more effective players.”
Coach Pile, Nielsen and Ryan will officially make their coaching debuts at their respective positions on Friday, Aug. 30, when UC Davis hosts Missouri State at Aggie Stadium. That game is slated to start at 5 p.m.