SMYRNA — Loveita Moffett has missed being a high school field hockey coach for the past decade.
But it’s not like the busy youth coach was really ever away from the game.
So when the chance to become the head coach at Smyrna High came along, Moffett was ready to go — even if was already July.
“I had told them after last season, if they needed any assistance, that I could certainly help out,” said Moffett. “So when the opportunity was like a month before pre-season started, I was like, ‘Yep, sure.’”
Moffett, who was William Penn High’s head coach for 12 seasons through 2011, will open pre-season camp with the Eagles on Aug. 16.
A former All-American player at Michigan, she replaces Nicki Shirey, who’s been Smyrna’s head coach for the past six seasons. Shirey will still be the Eagles’ softball coach but wanted to devote more time to her family and other things.
Smyrna athletic director Bill Schultz knows the school couldn’t have asked for someone with a better resume to step into the job. At William Penn, Moffett took her alma mater to the DIAA state tournament 11 straight years, reaching the state finals in 2006 and the semifinals in 2010.
Staring her third year as a guidance counselor at Smyrna, Moffett was already working in the building with two daughters in the school district’s field hockey program.
“We’re excited,” said Schultz. “The wealth of knowledge, not only at the high school level, but as a former collegiate player and her years of experience at the club level is going to be so beneficial.”
Most recently, Moffett was coaching youth programs at DE Turf as well as working with the Delaware Sharks Field Hockey Club. She’s developed the curriculum for New Castle County Parks and Recreation, as well as programming at the MTown Sports Complex.
Last year, Moffett was nominated for the USA Field Hockey National Grow the Game Award.
Indeed, Schultz thinks Moffett has already had a big impact by raising the level of club programs in Kent County over the last few years.
“The great thing with Laveita and her husband, Drew, they just want to see the game of hockey improve,” said Schultz. “That’s one of the best things. They don’t care where you’re from. If you’re a girl that’s interested in getting better at field hockey, they were going to coach you.
“It’s only going to improve hockey across the state. And that’s what’s fun, to see kids benefit at all levels, at all schools, if they want to improve.”
“In my personal experience — in the many years that I’ve been involved in hockey — there’s just something about field hockey that draws great kids and great families,” said Moffett. “I don’t know if it’s one thing about the sport that I love. I love so many things about the sport, particularly the strategy about it all. And why not? They give you a stick and tell you to go play.”
Moffett said she did have to ask for permission before applying for the Smyrna job. Her eldest daughter, Dru, will be a sophomore for the Eagles while her youngest, Bree, is an eighth-grader at Smyrna Middle School.
“The way I coach is very much ‘all in,’” said Moffett, whose maiden name is Wilkinson. “So it’s definitely a commitment as a family. When I take a position, we definitely have to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
Veteran assistant coach Amy Musto is staying with the program while Shirey is going to help out as a volunteer. Nicole Zulkowski will be Smyrna’s junior varsity coach.
Moffett, who started playing field hockey when she was in eighth grade, was a member of William Penn’s 1994 state championship squad.
Moffett already has a good feel for the players both in the Eagles’ program as well as around the Henlopen Conference. She also knows, though, that there’s other things she’ll have to catch up on.
She’s excited about it all, however.
“I think there’s just something really special about coaching high school kids,” said Moffett. “You have them for so many hours during the week and you can really move them from where they are to closer towards their goal. You create a family atmosphere and things can move quick.
“We’re hopeful that everyone buys in and we continue growing like the Smyrna program has done in recent years.”