Rivers field hockey coach and associate athletics director Janna Anctil was sitting at lunch when the word came, via Twitter. Her colleague Susanna Donahue was the first to offer congratulations and to share the news: Anctil had just been named New England Region Coach of the Year and Massachusetts State Coach of the Year by Max Field Hockey.
In naming her for the awards, the organization, which ranks the nation’s high school and college teams and players and tracks college commitments, said of Anctil: “She led Rivers to the program’s first-ever ISL title and NEPSAC B Conference title since moving up from the C Conference (they won C titles in 2014 and 2015). The Red Wings finished the 2019 season undefeated at 18-0-1, never trailing a game, and with a final ranking of number two in the New England region. In the B tournament, they knocked off the 2018 champions Brooks School 3-2 in overtime in the semifinal and then Governor’s Academy 3-0 in the final to claim the title.”
All true, as far as it goes, and it leaves no question that Anctil deserved the honors. But despite their name, the “Coach of the Year” designations are not awarded solely on the basis of that year’s record. Anctil has had consistent success over her six years at the helm of the program, and that’s at least part of what led to her receiving this year’s honors.
Athletic Director Bob Pipe notes, “They’ve been good for a long time, and it all came together for them this year.”
For her part, Anctil is grateful for the recognition and especially pleased by the fact that the news has inspired former players and others to reach out with their congratulations. “It’s nice to hear from a lot of alumni and parents and others in the community,” says Anctil. “It really reinforces all you do and all the hard work you put in during the season.”
It also served as a welcome reminder of a season that has inevitably receded a bit in memory, as winter sports come to the fore. “The excitement had faded a little, so it’s a nice reminder of how good our season was,” says Anctil.
Anctil was surprised to learn of the awards, which, she says, “were not something I was expecting or hoping for.” But while Pipe was pleased to see Anctil receive the recognition, it seemingly came as no shock to him. “Janna deserves a lot of credit; she’s a fantastic coach and a fantastic leader of young women,” he says.