“A Lot of Heart and a Lot of Kindness”: Coach Martha Fenton ’83

In her 28th year at Andover, Head Coach Martha Fenton ’83 leads Andover Girls Hockey with kindness, care, and a love for competition. The team recently won the Patsy K. Odden Tournament for the second year in a row and holds an undefeated record this season. 

Despite her successful leadership, Fenton had no experience with competitive hockey until her final year as a student at Andover. After a year, Fenton proceeded to play hockey, alongside field hockey and lacrosse, at Bowdoin College, and started her coaching career shortly after. 

“We played a lot of pond hockey when I was a kid, but I didn’t have an opportunity to play and there weren’t any other girls…. I actually didn’t start playing organized hockey until I came to Andover. I tried to play my Upper year, but I asked my mom to get me equipment, and she had me try on my brother’s equipment. It didn’t fit, so she said maybe next year. So I started as a Senior here,” said Fenton.

Keira Harder ’23 highlighted Fenton’s positivity and selflessness. According to Harder, Fenton continuously checks in on her players, ensuring that no one feels alone.

“For me, I always connect Martha with kindness. To me, her kindness is so palpable. Essentially when you walk into a room with her smile, you can feel it. She’s so dedicated to letting everyone on the team know that they’re valued and let everyone know they have worth. She really focuses on making sure that we then in turn value our own teammates and demonstrate that… She is the kindest human being,” said Harder.

Sharing a similar sentiment to Harder, Co-Captain Anne Averill ’23 emphasized Fenton’s love for the team. Fenton brings leadership qualities that the team’s captains look to, according to Averill. 

“She mostly leads with a lot of heart and a lot of kindness and a lot of care for the team, which has been something that’s great to see as like a captain who also wants to emphasize those values. I think it’s been great to learn from her and get to work with her and try to help the team as much as possible,” said Averill. 

With experience from the collegiate level, Fenton serves as an influential and knowledgeable figure on the ice, according to Co-Captain Olivia McManus ’23. McManus admires Fenton’s clear passion for the sport.

“She’s just very inspirational. She’s definitely someone I look up to because she’s just a strong woman figure [who has] been around for a while and has changed many people’s lives, including my own. She’s powerful. I’d probably describe her as that, and she just knows tons about the game because she’s been around for so long,” said McManus. 

Fenton views camaraderie as a key component to a successful team. While an advocate of cooperation and communication, Fenton also encourages her players to maintain high intensity and healthy competition during practices.

“I firmly believe that the team dynamic is always going to determine the success of the team. You can have an incredibly skilled team, but if you don’t work together, hockey is a sport where you really have to find that magic on the ice. The way you interact makes a huge difference. I try to lean into the team, motivating each other and competing on the ice every day and making practice competitive,” said Fenton.

Harder believes that Fenton reflects her efforts to motivate the team. Through healthy competition, the team maintains focus on its goals and the desire to improve, according to Harder. 

“She really focuses on helping us find… self motivation, so just making sure there’s a competitive edge to practice, making sure that we’re focusing in on the systems that we’re trying to accomplish, making sure that we’re competing not only against each other but internally,” said Harder.

Harder continued, describing Fenton’s focus on setting concrete goals. 

“One of the things that makes her such a good coach is that she constantly expects us to push ourselves harder and to battle for every 50-50 puck. Not just go through the motion but really saying each practice, ‘Am I going to get better? What goals am I going to make for myself this practice?’” added Harder. 

Looking ahead, Fenton hopes to improve upon the team’s sense of community and accountability. Through unselfish play, the team looks to continue its nine-game win streak. 

“When people want to play as much for the people next to them as they do for themselves, that’s when you achieve greatness,” said Fenton.