Assistant Sports Editor
Toby Coffin took some time, but eventually everyone comes back to Alden Street. Coffin, in his first year coaching men’s and women’s tennis, joins Moira Long (women’s volleyball) and Bryan Brown (men’s cross-country) this fall as the third Springfield alum to return as a head coach.
Coffin, who graduated from the Physical Education graduate program in 2001, takes over a women’s team that is coming off a 3-13 season and a 1-6 record in NEWMAC play.
“This is going to be a rebuilding year,” said Coffin. “We know that it isn’t going to happen overnight. It starts with preparation and playing more in the offseason.”
Coffin returns to Springfield after spending last season coaching the Longmeadow High School girl’s tennis team. Prior to Longmeadow, Coffin served as the girl’s coach at Cathedral High School in Springfield (2007-10), Athletic Director and boy’s tennis coach at The MacDuffie School in Springfield (2003-07) and as boy’s coach at Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham (2000-03).
The team that Coffin has inherited is a true mix of youth and experience. With only one senior, captain Sarah Morgan, and one freshman, Ashley Duhaime, the Pride are well positioned to begin the rebuilding process going forward. As Coffin said, the process begins at practice; an area that Morgan says has been the biggest difference from last season.
“Practices this year are very organized,” Morgan said. “Everything has a set amount of time, whereas last year was basically a free-for-all.”
Coffin includes a multitude of drills to keep practices fun, competitive and most of all, productive. Some days may involve hitting balls out of a machine, the next day it will be a teammate firing balls at you. Coffin has also been utilizing doubles and singles ladder matches to keep the girls competing.
“In tennis, you improve in levels. This season is about gaining as many levels as possible. The USTA [United States Tennis Association] does their ranked ladders in a similar manner, so I would like to simulate that. I encourage my players to also participate in USTA matches during the off-season.”
The improvement has begun already, even if their 0-3 record shows otherwise. Coffin says that the communication and teamwork in their doubles matches has improved “immensely” thus far and that the wins will come. Morgan agrees.
“We have a couple doubles teams coming back from last year,” Morgan said of the team’s continuity. “I think that the familiarity with our partners has helped our doubles improve as much as they have.”
Jimmy Kelley may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org