Georgette Summers, a Coach for All Seasons
By Melanie Cane
In her nineteen years at Rye Country Day School, Assistant Athletic Director and varsity Field Hockey and Girls’ Lacrosse Coach Georgette Summers has led her teams to thirteen NYSAIS championship titles. Her field hockey team won ten NYSAIS championships, including eight in the past ten years. The 2015 Girls’ Lacrosse team was undefeated and won the FAA and New England Private School Tournament as well as the NYSAIS crown.
Originally hired to teach PE in addition to coaching, Summers helped create a 10th- grade health program a year after she was hired and has taught the class ever since. Over time, she stopped teaching PE. Seven years ago, she became the Assistant Athletic Director.
Summers’ love of coaching began when she was at Ithaca College, where she played midfield for both the Field Hockey and Girl’s Lacrosse teams. She began coaching when she could no longer play due to a medical issue. After college, she taught PE and Health while coaching at Riverdale Country School for six years before moving to Rye Country Day.
What’s her favorite thing about coaching? “Bringing a group of athletes and coaches together to become a team. Each season we have new personalities and different talents. I love the challenge of seeing the degree to which a team can grow. Watching them come together with the desire to achieve something, as one unit, is truly fulfilling.”
Summers says she enjoys coaching field hockey and lacrosse for different reasons. “In field hockey, the girls are just back from summer vacation for the pre-season. Classes haven’t started yet so they can really focus on the sport of field hockey. Pre-season is my favorite time of year because the girls are their best selves.”
She continued, “On the other hand, when the lacrosse season starts the girls are in the midst of exams and are often distracted if not overwhelmed. This is a huge challenge for the coaches. We try to keep the girls invested and focused. The week-long spring training trip is a big help.”
This season, Summers and assistant coaches Denise Francella and Clemmie Everett are taking the 21 members of the team to a Girls’ Lacrosse training center in Nevada.
Another big difference between lacrosse and field hockey is that the former is more about the individual players than the team. “Speaking as a player, you feel so free. As the ball is in your stick and you can run full speed, maintaining possession.”
On the other hand, “Field hockey is inherently a team sport,” said Summers. “It’s very hard for a field hockey player to intercept a ball, maintain possession of the ball the length of the field, and then score a goal without their teammates. Even the stronger players often have to rely on the weaker ones. Therefore, working on team cohesion is a top priority.”
Even after 30 years of coaching, Summers feels the same enthusiasm she did at the start. “Every season is different. I think it actually gets more challenging.”
As for the success of her Wildcats’ teams, Summer said she owes most of it to her assistant coaches and the players. Denise Francella has been by her side for the past 16 years in both sports. Clemmie Everett has been part of the Girl’s Lacrosse coach trio for ten years, and Charles Sliter is the third assistant coach for Field Hockey.
In the offseason, you’ll find Summers pursuing another passion: hiking in America’s national parks. “Mountains have their challenges, too. So far, Olympic National Park in Washington is one of my favorites.”
Coach Georgette Summers