New CR field hockey coach Stewart aims to restore winning ways

CAMDEN — Even 13 years later, it’s still exciting for Brittney Stewart to remember it.

In 2004, she was the goalie on the Caesar Rodney High field hockey team that won the state title.

“It still gives me a rush to think about what we accomplished,” said Stewart, whose maiden name is Harding.

Now it’s Stewart’s mission to see if she can get a new group of Riders to accomplish some great things.

On Wednesday, the 29-year-old was announced as CR’s new head field hockey coach after spending the last eight seasons as an assistant coach in the program.

New CR field hockey coach Brittney Stewart’s focus is on getting everyone in the program — from the middle schools on up — on the same page. (Caesar Rodney School District photo/Dave Chambers)

The Riders haven’t made the state tournament since 2013, which is also the last time they finished with a winning record. CR went 4-11 in the fall.

But Stewart said she believes there’s enough talent in the school district to get the Riders winning again.

“I’m extremely optimistic,” she said. “We have a lot of middle-school players right now that are very enthusiastic. And we have a huge sophomore class right now that were all up on varsity last year. So the majority of our varsity team are sophomores who I coached when they were freshmen and they are phenomenal players. There’s also some juniors who are great leaders.

“Now do I expect them to win a state title? I want them to, but we all know that hard work has to go into it. You can’t become the ‘dream team’ overnight but you can well try.”

With her background, not only as an assistant coach in the program but as a math teacher at the high school, Stewart already knows the players well.

“I’m certain that the young women on the team will learn a great deal about the game from her, and we look forward to her dynamic leadership on the field.” CR principal Dr. Sherry Kijowski said in a press release.

But Stewart, a first-team All-State goalie who played collegiately at West Chester, knows that only part of her job involves actual coaching.

Right now her focus is on getting everyone in the program — from the middle schools on up — on the same page.

“I think there’s a disconnect that’s started to occur,” said Stewart. “I want to rectify that. I know when I played here, Coach (Debbie) Windett was the high school coach. I remember her coming to our middle schools and talking to us and getting us excited about coming up here.”

Another big part of the rebuilding process, said Stewart, will be getting the players involved in off-season leagues and camps.

That’s another thing that she says helped make the Riders into state champions in 2004.

“It was a lot of hard work,” said Stewart. “I remember weekly practices in the off-season at Allen Frear (elementary school). And I remember going to camps over the summer and playing all year long. That way, when we played together during the regular season, we knew we could trust each other.

“That’s something I’d like to build with these girls — that trust in your teammates that you know they’re going to do their job. If everybody takes care of their business, everything will mesh much better.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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