Ashley Obrest – Softball

Ashley Obrest - Softball

Ashley Obrest returned to Boston College in 2011 as Head Softball Coach where she is still in the school’s record book for career runs batted in (95), as well as single-season on-base percentage (.423) and walks (28).

Under Obrest, the Eagles won a program-best 12 ACC games in 2014. Boston College’s 12 ACC wins is the most conference wins the program has recorded in 11 years.

Obrest was at Colgate University prior to rejoining Boston College. Following a two-year stint as the assistant coach, Obrest was promoted to head coach of Colgate University in July 2010. She set a school record for most wins by a first year head coach (27) and led the Raiders to a regular season Patriot League title with a 16-3 conference mark.

Prior to joining Colgate, Obrest has served as an assistant coach at Concordia University in Chicago and a private hitting and catching instructor for the Chicago White Sox Training Academy.

  Ashley Obrest - Softball

What is your best piece of advice to a girls youth coach?

My best piece of advice to a girls youth coach would be to teach young girls the value of a strong work ethic.  I often hear the expression, “I work hard.”  But what does that truly mean?  What does that look like?  If you “work hard,” you should not have to say those words.  There are so many young athletes that are simply not “walking the talk.”  What are you doing to become great, not just good?  Are you showing up to practice with a plan and a mindset to get better?  Or are you showing up to practice with no focus and a “get through it” mindset?  Understanding the difference between saying you work hard and consistently giving full effort is key.


For Ashley’s best team building exercise, please read How To Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.


Chandra Wisneski – Nordic  Ski

Chandra Wieneski

Nordic Ski Coach for boys and girls Varsity, Junior Varsity and Freshman

Newton North High School

Chandra Wisneski began Nordic Skiing as a freshman in high school. She joined the Nordic team at University of Maine at Presque Isle and studied a dual major in Cross Country Ski Coaching and Athletic Training. After graduating, she was part of the coaching team for the New Zealand National Development Team. She furthered her education with a chiropractic degree, and continued coaching Nordic Ski as the Ski School Director at Weston Ski Track. She is the Newton North High School Nordic Ski coach for both the girls and boys teams. In just two years, the team grew from 38 to 58 members, with half the team new to the sport.

The biggest difference between girls and boys that I’ve noticed is that boys are encouraged to play sports and get sweaty growing up. In high school, boys tend to enter sport with more experience but girls just don’t have that feedback. Girls want to work hard but they are more shy about working out. For example, when I brought the team to the weight room, the girls sat in a corner and didn’t participate while the boys strutted around as if they knew what they were doing, even if they didn’t. Doing a sport is really intimidating especially if it’s for the first time, so I think girls need more encouragement to get messy.

I think if the coach is having fun, then the team will have fun. How I always had fun was when we used to do these crazy workouts that we’d talk about afterwards. If you do something that’s so ridiculous that no one is going to believe you, that makes for the best stories and that makes it more exciting to do. Going out running four 400s isn’t fun, but if you do it as a scavenger hunt, then you have a shared experience with your group.

I worked as a summer camp counselor for a number of years, so I got a lot of experience turning everything into a game. For Nordic Ski dry land workouts, I’ll design a scavenger hunt by putting locations on puzzle pieces. Each group finds a puzzle piece and then runs to that location and back. If they get a duplicate puzzle piece, they have to get another team to do that run. They have to find all the puzzle pieces until they complete the puzzle. They end up running for an hour, but it ends up being really fun. An added bonus is that it fosters cooperation and team chemistry.

For games to keep it fun, please read How To Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.

Erik Johnson: Basketball

Erik Johnson

Boston College

Head Coach Women’s Basketball

“When it comes to the goals of student-athletes’ off-court and academic development, one would be hard pressed to find anyone better.” BC Interruption

His son Davis (4), passed away unexpectedly on May 6, 2010.

“I just told them, it’s got to be OK when Coach cries,” Johnson said. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll never desert you. I’ll never not be able to be there for you. But I’m going to have days when I’m struggling, just like you’re going to have days when you’re struggling.” Boston Globe

Johnspn, who was an assistant coach at Boston College from 2006 through 2008, took over as head coach in 2012 when the Eagles came off one of their worst seasons (7-23) in recent memory.  In his first season, he took a team that was formerly 7-23 and finished 12-19 in the 2012-13 season. Last season, the squad finished 12th in the ACC, with an overall record of 13-17.

Erik Johnson Boston College Women's Head Basketball Coach

My best advice to a girls youth coach is to focus on the culture of the team.  If you emphasize and teach body language, eye contact, hustle, togetherness, energy, attitude, responsibility, communication, focus, etc. then EVERYTHING else you teach about your sport will be better.  These are also the skills that your players will need in school and in life. Sports and “real life” mirror each other as they reward those who display those characteristics.

For Erik Johnson’s Team Building Exercise that involves food, please read How to Coach Girls coming out in 2018.

Randy Thomas: Women’s Track and Field

Randy Thomas Boston College Head Coach Women’s Track and Field

Randy Thomas

Boston College

Head Coach Women’s Track and Field

Randy Thomas is the program director of the women’s cross country and track and field teams at Boston College. He spent his first 15 seasons as the director of both the men and women’s track and field programs. This will be Thomas’ 29th year at Boston College.  A former world record holder, he has guided the women’s cross country squad to 16 NCAA Championships in the past 24 seasons. Overall, Thomas, who served exclusively as the school’s cross country coach during the first seven years of his tenure, has produced a total of 52 All-America selections, four national junior champions and one Pan-American Games gold medalist. His coaching honors include New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association as the Division I women’s coach of the year, and 2001 Track and Field Association National Cross Country Coach of the Year.

Randy Thomas Boston College Head Coach Women’s Track and Field

Best advice to a girl’s team coach

Always keep in mind that girls are very much like husky ididerod team dogs. Each has their own personality and you must constantly work on weaving these different personalities into a cohesive unit.


For Randy Thomas’ Poster Board team building exercise, please read How to Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.

Katie Crowley: Women’s Ice Hockey

Katie Crowley

Katie Crowley

Women’s Hockey Head Coach

Boston College

Katie Crowley started as an assistant coach at Boston College in August 2004, and was promoted to head coach in May 2007. At the end of the 2014-15 season, Crowley was honored with her first national coach of the year honor.

Crowley won a gold medal in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan; a silver medal in the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, and a bronze at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy. She took home five consecutive silver medals in the World Championships (1997, 1999-2001, 2004), and a gold medal in 2005 with Team USA. In 2009, she and her 1998 Olympic teammates were enshrined in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Crowley has worked with many national teams. The Eagles’ skipper was named head coach of the 2010 Under-18 National Team that captured a silver medal at the IIHF World Championship.  A year prior to that, she served as an assistant coach for the Under-18 National Team – which won gold at the IIHF World Championship in Germany – and the U-18 Select Team.  In 2006, she worked with the Under-22 Select Team. She has also worked as a lecturer, coach and instructor at numerous hockey camps throughout New England. 

Katie Crowley

My best advice to a girls’ coach is to make sure they treat the athletes with respect, make the sport fun, and teach them how to be a good teammate.  Not everyone will go on to be a college athlete, but hopefully they have fun, learn something about the game, and make friends for life.


For Katie Crowley’s best team building exercise that she did with the 1988 Olympic Team, please read How to Coach Girls coming out in March of 2018.

Interview: Marc Gargaro, Nonantum Boxing Club

Interview: Marc Gargaro, Nonantum Boxing Club

Marc Gargaro

Boxing Trainer, Co-Owner

Nonantum Boxing Club

Marc is a professional boxing trainer as well as USA Boxing Level 2 and AIBA Star 1 amateur boxing coach. He has extensive coaching experience on the regional and national level and works with boxers of all ages. He has coached hundreds of fighters since co-founding Nonantum Boxing Club, with about a quarter of them women.

 Interview: Marc Gargaro, Nonantum Boxing Club

Coaching Girls versus Boys

I started coaching women several years into my coaching career. Women’s boxing really wasn’t that popular until about ten years ago so I started coaching just one woman at first who had boxed as an amateur for a really long time. Every year, there are more and women coming in to train at the gym, which is a good thing. The sport is definitely evolving for women. Now, my fighters are almost evenly split between men and women.

The girls who come into the sport these days have been with me for some time. There’s been quite a few women over the years who have been successful as well at our gym. I feel that the women who come in usually put in a lot time into it; they are not just coming in the door and disappearing.

There are slight differences training men versus women. When you a good boxing who wants to train, they have the same qualities: they are driven, they are athletic, strong minded, they have toughness to them. The women are usually more independent. Guys that need that push more. Girls They can set up their own training sessions and you need to push them to do that. The women get frustrated more easily. It’s not necessarily bad or good. They push themselves a little too hard so sometimes you need to rein them in a little. That’s the main differences that I see.

For the rest of the interview, please read How To Coach Girls coming out March 2018.

Interview: Brent Bode, Rowing Coach at CRI

Interview: Brent Bode, Rowing Coach at CRI

Brent Bode

Competitive Novice Girls Head Coach

Community Rowing Inc. (CRI)

Bode has been coaching and teaching at Community Rowing, Inc. since 2010. He is Head Coach for the Competitive Youth Novice Girls program and assistant director of CRI’s Coaching Education programming. Bode also coaches novice and intermediate adult rowers year-round and teaches fitness, strength, and conditioning to athletes of all ages. He holds a Master’s degree in Exercise & Sports Studies from Smith College and is a long-time member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Under Bode’s direction, the Competitive Novice Girls team grew from 27 to more than 50 athletes in just three years. Additionally, and most important, the team continually meets its mission: “to grow each student-athlete’s character respectfully, to inspire extraordinary performances, and to improve their well-being through the pursuit of honorable victory in athletic competition.”

Interview: Brent Bode, Rowing Coach at CRI

Keeping it fun for myself is all about keeping it in perspective. I recognize that girls are doing a lot of things and experiencing a lot of stress. One part of what I try to do as a coach is provide a space for them to let their hair down. At the same time, I think it’s important to actually want to know what is going on in their lives, and not just thinking that they are here just to do their exercise and be an athlete. You (my athletes) are here because you are a person and I want to understand you as a whole person. I think it’s important to maintain a perspective that my athletes are more than just coming to do that sport.

In terms of keeping it fun, we give the girls plenty of opportunity to share with each other things that are going on in their lives. We keep things light; we laugh a lot. We focus when we have to focus, but we allow play. I’m a proponent of play; I probably allow a lot more play than I’ve seen other sports organizations do. Playfulness comes with an approach of how we do things. We don’t do anything special or out of the ordinary. I think we are just conscious of the fact that these are young people, and young people need time to be serious and focused and challenged, but at the same time, they need play and connection with each other.

The rest of his interview will be on How To Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.

Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes

Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes

My daughter had only played team sports like soccer and rowing when she decided to try a new sport, Nordic Skiing (cross country skiing) in order to play for her high school.  In this sport, she was the newbie who was far from the best. But she and her friends, though novices, brought an infectious team spirit by cheering louds at events like races and awards banquets where support was typically more muted.  

They made a lot of friends by simply inquiring about how other athlete’s races went, and providing emotional support when their new friends were unhappy with their results. It turns out that no one really did that. In return, she appreciated the simplicity of performance evaluation. Ranking based solely on her time was a break from a more subjective evaluation. My daughter still views Nordic Skiing as her “off-season” sport, but the benefits were both emotional and physical.  

Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes

Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes

The statistic that 70% of kids quit organized sports before high school is a staggering one. As a coach, we can affect this number if we focus on getting our players to return to sports each season. One significant way is to supporting them when they are willing to play more than one sport in a season, or want to play a different sport during the off-season.

70% of kids quit organized sports before high school. Continue reading “Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes”

Playing Time

starting time

With my same middle daughter, I’ve experienced two kinds of playing time issues. When she was in kindergarten soccer, she would not play at all if I was near the field. Instead, she would want to sit on my lap. I was banned most of the season in order to get my daughter to play by the coach, my husband. When she was older and playing club soccer, she was very cognizant of playing time. Starting and playing time was a proxy for the social pecking order of the team. It’s the perceived relationship of starting/playing time and social status on the team that coaches should be aware of. Even mixing up the starting line up once a season, signals to the players that everyone is valued, and that there are no “favorites.”

starting time

Playing Time

It’s important for the coach to give a pre-season message about playing and starting philosophy. I believe that for kids U12 and younger, every player should have equal playing starting and playing time. They should also play different positions.

Continue reading “Playing Time”