The bond of teammates is unwavering. For most student-athletes, their teammates become a second family that they will not only have during their four-year careers but also long after.
And sometimes there will be a unique opportunity to coach alongside a former teammate. Two former University of Richmond Field Hockey student-athletes went from sharing the field together as players to sharing the sideline as they coach their own program.
Both Catherine Ostoich and Amy Cooke transitioned from standout careers with the Spiders to leading the Missouri State field hockey team. Ostoich was named the head coach of the Bears in February, and just last month, Cooke received a call to join her former teammate.
The duo only shared the field as Spiders together for a year – 2012 – Ostoich’s senior year and Cooke’s freshman year.
“It is cool on my end to see how much Cooke has grown as a person, a player and a coach,” Ostoich said.
From the first day Cooke joined the Spiders, she left a lasting impression on Ostoich.
“One of my first memories of her coming into Richmond was that she was super eager to learn and super eager to be on the field,” Ostoich said. “She was willing and out to try anything and everything, and that’s a quality that not a lot of people have and it was awesome to play with someone like that.”
During Ostoich’s freshman year she realized how much passion she had for the sport, and knew she wanted to give back to the game that had given her so much. On the field at Richmond Ostoich began instilling knowledge of the game and being a leader for the younger players.
“She definitely helped a lot with my own player development,” said Cooke. “It’s neat to see her doing the same thing now as a coach.”
For Cooke, the transitioning to being a coach was a little different. A native of Ballyclare, Northern Ireland, she had never been to the United States prior to joining the Spiders in her first preseason.
“It was more of a process. When I came on a player at Richmond, I really enjoyed the competitive nature and the set-up here is a little different than back home,” Cooke said.
After joining the Spiders, Cooke told herself that she would go back home after her four years, but fate would have a different idea.
“I fell in love with the system here, and I wasn’t quite ready to leave, and there was an opportunity to work with one of my friends and former teammates,” she said.
Prior to taking over the helm at Missouri State, Ostoich spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Davidson College. Even though she is calling the shots now, she doesn’t hesitate to reach out to her former coaches and friends.
“Being a young coach, I’m not afraid to ask other coaches for advice and help,” she said. “I think that is how you become a better coach – when you learn from other people’s success and failures.”
Despite being just a couple weeks into their first season on the sidelines together the two have picked up right where they left off on the field.
“It’s awesome because we both have the same baseline, but we came from two completely different areas before Richmond, so we use everything that we have to create our own coaching styles,” Ostoich said. “I’ve been away from Richmond for three years so I’ve taken bits and pieces from other places that I’ve worked to see how I want to coach, and Cooke has done the same thing.”
Even though both are new to the coaching world, Ostoich is still sharing her knowledge of the game with her former teammate and now coaching counterpart.
“I’m definitely learning just as much, if not more from her as a coach as I did when I was a player, playing alongside her,” said Cooke.
The strong experiences the duo had at Richmond has molded them as they are leading their own program.
“We were nurtured by our coaches and they made us better people and players,” said Cooke. “I think that the fact that we both had such a positive experience has helped us with the way we want to coach today.”
Ostoich, a 2012 graduate of the University, was a standout player for Richmond during her four-year career, where she started in all but one of the 85 games during her career. In just her first year, Ostoich grabbed Atlantic 10 All-Rookie honors and was a part of a defensive unit that tied for third in school history for most shutouts (8), and ranked 17th in the nation in goals against average (1.62). She secured numerous accolades during her time in the red and blue including Atlantic 10 All-Rookie honors and two-time A-10 All-Tournament team. The West Chester, Pa. native helped the Spiders to two A-10 titles and NCAA Tournament appearances.
Cooke, a 2016 graduate, capped her career as becoming one of the greatest defensive players in Richmond history. In her final season with the Spiders, she was named the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, while earning a spot on the First Team in each of her four seasons. She led Richmond’s defense, which ranked first in the league in scoring margin, goals-against average and shutouts against A-10 opponents.