Sue Caples, who served for 24 seasons as the field hockey head coach and led the Crimson this past year to its best record since 2006, will not be returning for the 2012 season after the Harvard Department of Athletics decided not to renew her contract.
According to the incoming co-captains, Kimberly Goh ’13 and Cynthia Tassopoulos ’13, the decision, announced Dec. 16 on the Athletics Department’s website, came to the surprise of the field hockey players, who were notified of the move only a few hours before it was made public.
“I was pretty shocked,” Tassopoulos said. “We didn’t know what was going on.”
The team was informed of the department’s choice via an email from Assistant Director of Athletics Duane Reeves, who has served as the team’s liaison throughout this transition phase.
Reeves told the team the Department of Athletics aims to hire Caples’ replacement by mid-March.
“Realistically, that is probably the fastest they could get someone in,” Tassopoulos said. “Hopefully, they find someone as soon as possible. Even if they come in March we should be able to pick up and have a strong spring season.”
Goh said the players were told both assistant coaches Julia Munson and Jen Long would stay on with the team until the end of the school year.
According to Goh and Tassopoulos, there were no prior indications of the possibility of Caples’ release, and the team has since been told little beyond the information the Athletics Department has chosen to make public.
“We weren’t given any details on the decision,” said Goh, who referred to the entire experience as “disjointing.” “They just said that they talked to many people, and it was looked at from many different directions.”
Officials from the Athletics Department were unable to comment as they have been out of office this week.
Both co-captains agreed that the timing of the announcement during finals period, though odd, was beneficial, as it allowed players time to process the decision on their own over the winter break.
The field hockey team was disappointed that the Athletics Department did not properly recognize Caples’ accomplishments as a coach in the online announcement of her release, according to Goh.
“She has given nearly a quarter century to the program and that was hardly acknowledged in the brief on GoCrimson,” Goh said. “The Athletic Department was a little cavalier in the posting.”
In her 24 years as head coach, Caples earned a lifetime record of 197-205-9 and captured three Ivy League titles, most recently in 2004.
Since then, the Crimson has yet to win more than half of its contests in any season, coming closest with an 8-9 record this season and in 2006.
“The team has recognized that Sue had such a long and good career at Harvard,” Tassopoulos said. “Many of the players recognize the role she served for us, not just as a coach but as a mentor at school too.”
Although Tassopoulos said she feels the team remains in the dark about the upcoming changes to the coaching staff, she hopes the team will be better informed on the decision and the hiring process upon its return to campus.
“We just went home after finals and aren’t really involved in the [hiring] process yet,” Tassopoulos said. “When we come back in January, hopefully we’ll get more information and be filled in. Maybe we can be more involved.”
Caples declined to comment for this article.
—Staff writer Patrick Galvin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.