Aug 16,2014(ISN) – VICTORIA – For 30 years Lynne Beecroft has led the University of Victoria Vikes women’s field hockey program to triumph after triumph. To her 11 CIS national championship teams and all the players in and between, the name Lynne barely rings a bell. Buzz is the only name she gets called by players and to the wider field hockey community. So who is Lynne and how did she become Buzz?
Q: How did you get the nickname Buzz?
LB: When I was in Grade 9 I played basketball with a guy who was six-foot-five. The only way for me to beat him was to race after the ball when he missed it. With my last name being Beecroft and all, he called me Buzzcroft since I could always out-run him. That name pretty much ended there but I continued playing basketball and the name popped up again in Grade 11 when our coaches asked us for nicknames. I was too embarrassed to give him my family nickname so the only thing I could think of was “Buzzcroft”. He loved it! “Buzz, that is what we will call you” and from then on it stuck. It followed me to every sport team, throughout university and now coaching. I am even Aunty Buzz to my nieces and nephews; some of them didn’t even know my real name. Funny enough, the guy back in Grade 9, his last name was Hornet.
Q: For 30 years you have dedicated a different theme to every season. Where did that idea stem form?
LB: The first theme came to me when I invited the 1984 Vikes squad on a team run. It was the week of CIS nationals and we stopped at my apartment for breakfast. Sitting on my balcony was a pumpkin with teamwork carved into it – alas, our theme came to life. That pumpkin came with us to every game from that point on. That was my first championship victory. From then on the themes just blossomed. We had Believe the following year and Karate Kid the next. The themes aren’t meant to relate to the previous year, but sometimes they connect. Things happen synchronously for me, for example, Dream catchers. My sister knew a lady who hand-made dream catchers. I drove up to Duncan and she made 20 catchers for the team. Who would have thought my sister would know someone who could make something so special? Time is another theme that just emerged. Krista (Thomspon, Vikes Assistant Coach) and I were in Bed Bath and Beyond and it just came to me. That year we began our season in the middle of Time Square, New York, this stuff just happens to us! The themes are ways to bring the kids together. Eco-systems has a great story. I was walking along the beach and found these wish rocks. Everyone has a dream and whether it was hockey related or not, I wanted to give each athlete the chance to make a wish. I also love animals so my idea was to somehow have a different animal on each rock that represented each athlete. One of my girls hurt her finger that year and I took her to the hospital. As we sat there talking she mentioned she knew someone who was a rock artist. So my theme came to life right there. I wanted the girls to think about what an eco-system meant to them. It’s important that as a team we think interdependently not independently – and that’s what an eco-system is. What you can learn from life is what life is really about; that’s what playing on a team is all about. In the end, the themes have their own life.
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a coach?
LB: I always thought I was going to be a teacher, not a coach. My undergrad at UVic was in education and during my first practicum I realized not everyone wants to learn. I knew I loved field hockey and after some time playing for the national team, a teammate of mine asked if I wanted to assist with the Vikes women’s team. I signed on and once she resigned I became head coach. It was sort of by chance. I was incredibly shy so that made the teaching thing more difficult; however, once I got out on the field everything felt right. But it’s not really me coaching them, but more me learning from them and constantly growing as a coach each year. So it’s a win-win. I love to teach and I love teaching kids who want to learn. I get to watch my athletes grow as players and individuals. In the end, hockey can only take you so far, that’s why we focus on life lessons and growth. This program has graduated nine medical doctors, many kinesiology professionals, and schoolteachers. I’d like to think that this program had a small influence in their success.
Q: You and assistant coach Krista Thompson have been a team for nearly 20 years. What has been the best thing about working together?
LB: Krista and I see the same hockey game. She is the orchestrator of the bench, allowing me to focus on half-time talks. We counter balance one another and she brings my themes to life. I have the idea and she has the 3D mind to create it. For the most part if I am down, she is up and when she is down I am up. Krista also has an incredible wealth of hockey knowledge. She is a converted forward and played goalie for the Canadian national team. She really benefits our athletes no matter what position they play.
Q: What advice would you give to a young coach?
LB: I think everyone on a team wants to feel important and on a team, everyone is important no matter what position you play, whether you are a starter or fresh off the bench. Everyone matters. I love it when people can compete against themselves. They push to be better and strong and a little healthy competition could never hurt. But competition becomes unhealthy when you consistently have the need to compete against your teammates. Our sport is a game of co-operation. There needs to be balance between co-operation and competition. My advice would be to build that relationship with your team where you can provide a trusting environment of healthy competition. A little constructive criticism can go a long way, but each player has to know you are coming from a place of support and co-operation.
Lynne Beecroft 30 years of themesQ: Besides the themes, what is something special about the women’s field hockey program?
LB: We run a P.A.T.S program that I think is truly unique. We have on-field captains but I also designate off-field captains – P.A.T.S captains. The coaches award points throughout the year based on: Performance, Attitude, Timing and Special points. P.A.T.S captains are responsible for communicating to a small group of teammates on behalf of the coaches, organizing rides, keeping teammates accountable and such. We also try to do fun activities – the night before any varsity game a P.AT.S group must perform a skit. You really get to see an athlete’s personality during these skits. I also think each athlete is special to put up with all my crazy themes. Who can say their coaching bible is a beehive? I can.
The Vikes women’s field hockey season kicks off today, with the first of three try-out sessions. Follow the Vikes during their pre-season tour through New York, NY and Boston, MS and get the full Canada West schedule at www.govikesgo.com/wfh. Let’s Strike Vikes!