Sports

Head Coaches Kate Dolan and Martha Fenton ’83 Share Over 25 Years of Coaching Experience

M. CALLAHAN/The Phillipian

Coaches Kate Dolan and Martha Fenton have led PAFH to 3 NEPSAC titles in the past 5 years.


Having coached Field Hockey together for twenty-six years, Head Coaches Kate Dolan and Martha Fenton ’83 have developed Andover Field Hockey into a successful program: in the past four years, the team has won three Nepsac Class A championships. They coached the team to an undefeated record last season, ending with 17-0. This season, the team currently stands at 10-2.

Captain Carly Kreytak ’20 said, “I think both Coach Dolan and [Coach] Fenton have high expectations for us and they are not easy on us but that’s what makes us better. They are pretty clear about what they expect of us and they care a lot about us which is important to why we do so well because they really are the heart of our team.”

How do you work together?

Coach Fenton: The awesome thing about working with her is that we have very similar values when it comes to developing a team and what we value. We often have the same thoughts at the same time about things — we joke about that. I think that as much as we are on the same page, we also complement each other. We have different strengths.

Coach Dolan: Martha and I have worked together for about 25 years, so we are pretty good at reading each other, and we are often thinking the exact same thing at the exact same time — one of us will say something out loud just before the other says it.

Do you have any favorite memories from over the years?

Coach Fenton: I would say our first championship. Ms. Dolan had, years before I got here as a faculty member… won the championship. And then we went 22 years I think without another one. I think that the first one was a culmination of so many phenomenal teams and traditions that had been built over the years. It all came together in that team.

Coach Dolan: We have so many memories it would be hard to know where to start, and we have been incredibly fortunate to coach so many wonderful student-athletes that it would be impossible to name just a few.

How do you build a successful team?

Coach Dolan: The cornerstones for any successful team are communication, trust, respect, and passion — you need those building blocks and you need each and every person on the team to believe in them, to contribute to them and to support one another. Talent and skill are so secondary to the intangibles. Grit, enthusiasm and heart are far more important in the game of field hockey. Building a team takes time, patience, communication, and persistence. Sometimes you move forward, sometimes sideways and you have to be persistent and unwavering as you ride the inevitable ups and downs of every season.

Coach Fenton: I think you build a successful team by developing a culture as much, if not more for each other than for themselves. The team is more important than the individual and the individual goals, and I think that we try to stress that all the time… It’s not about how skilled you are or how fast you are, but it’s more about how we work together. I think that that is something that we’re still figuring out with this team. I think it’s really hard to come after an undefeated team that won the championship. The next year’s team, the standards are so high, but I think that this team is doing an amazing job of figuring out what their strengths are and making their way.

What have been some successes or struggles this season?

Coach Fenton: I think we are starting to pass more quickly, not just see it but make it. I think we came to a place where we looked for the home run pass all the time, but we’re starting to see the little game inside of the big game and that makes a huge difference on the field.

What do you hope for the team this season?

Coach Dolan: I hope the team realizes its fullest potential — they can be so great when they pass, move, combine their energy, enthusiasm, skills, and talents. My hope for them is that together, they strive and reach for the greatness that is within them.