Kingsway field hockey has a rich history anchored by legendary players who made tremendous splashes on the high and collegiate scenes. All-state caliber athletes such as Jessie Roos and Aubrey Coleman have etched their names on record books and championships rosters through the years and have become synonymous with the sport at Kingsway.
Well, another one of these giants has come home to take the reins of the program. Dana Ott has taken over as the new head coach for field hockey. Known as Dana Ramsden during her playing days, she was a two-time South Jersey player of the year as well as the New Jersey player of the year who graduated as the leading goal scorer in school history (81). She also was the winner of the Dragon Award, given to the top senior athlete.
She earned a field hockey scholarship to Villanova University and became a starter her first year. Even after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament during the preseason of her second year, she later went on to become a many-time All-Big East and All-Region honoree.
After spending a year as the head field hockey coach at Haverford High School, she accepted a position as an English teacher at Kingsway Middle School, while also coaching field hockey at the junior varsity, freshman, and middle school levels. While coaching at the middle school, she was coaching concurrently at Cabrini University as a graduate assistant.
Her pedigree and home connection makes her a perfect fit to take over the Kingsway program.
“This season really has taken me full circle,” said Ott. “To follow the path of people who have mentored me is quite an honor. I have a permanent smile on my face that I cannot remove.”
While she has inherited a perennial conference contender, she has implemented a plan that builds on strong Kingsway traditions and values while incorporating norms and ideas that will build on the culture of the program.
“The values that I learned during my time as a player at Kingsway were invaluable to my development as a person and as an athlete,” said Ott. “I do want to emphasize even further the value of nurturing these girls in a positive way while also encouraging them to be willing to take risks and make mistakes. This will help them to grow while learning to practice and, ultimately, play the right way. I want them to enjoy their pursuit for excellence.”
Along with her assistant coaches, Jennie Hara and Stephanie Taraschi, Ott has high aspirations for this program as it moves into this new era.
“The future is so bright, as I feel that we can become a legitimate powerhouse on a state level and beyond,” said Ott. “We have received great contributions from our upperclassmen, who have been so embracing of the changes within the program. They have adapted and have not looked back. We also have an infusion of youth that gives us added energy and has created the expectation that this momentum will be carried forward indefinitely.”
At press time, Ott has this team off to a 6-0 start, and they currently are ranked as one of the top 20 teams in New Jersey. This quick start has put the rest of the state on notice that Kingsway field hockey is back to its old tricks as a program capable of winning every game it plays.
“As long as we work to our capacity and stay humble, the sky is the limit with these young ladies,” continued Ott. “We want to represent our school and our conference in the highest fashion possible.”
“It is a surreal feeling knowing that I am back here coaching at the place that helped mold me. I am home.”
There is no place like home!
— By Christian Lynch