Pocomoke, MD – We are starting a new WBOC web series called “Interview of the Week.” Each week I will interview a local sports figure on Delmarva. Today, we go to Worcester County to find out a little more about Pocomoke field hockey head coach Brandi Castaneda.
The 35-year-old has never been a high school field hockey head coach until this season. She has been an assistant coach for six years with stops at Mardela, Parkside and Pocomoke.
Castaneda took over the storied Pocomoke field hockey program in August under difficult circumstances after longtime Warriors head coach Susan Pusey tragically died from a blood clot in July.
1. Were you born and raised on Delmarva? Where did you go to college? Did you play any sports in college? How does it help you relate to your players?
I was born in Salisbury, Maryland and lived here until I was 4. During my elementary school years my family and I lived in Hardford County Maryland. Family would bring us back to the Eastern Shore at age 9 and then to Pocomoke by age 11. My parents were both from Pocomoke. I went to college for two years at Stevenson University (then it was Villa Julie College) where I played field hockey. I then returned to Salisbury University to complete my degree and graduated in 2003. Playing in college helped me to appreciate my Pocomoke field hockey family and our strong traditions and values.
2. Why do you love coaching?
Many will tell you that they love the game, but I love the results of the game we play. Be it the player who executed a flat pass for the very first time, or a player that scored the winning goal, I coach to celebrate the success of those that come to know accomplishment as a result of hard work and dedication. To coach is to equip young ladies to handle adversity inside and outside of their control and to celebrate success with class and appreciation. Coaching is not a job, it is a honor and a commitment.
3. You are taking over the Pocomoke field hockey program under difficult circumstances, what has this experience been like?
Being a Pocomoke field hockey family member for over 20-plus years, this experience has exceeded all that our tradition and honor could bring. In no way am I a replacement and one would be foolish to try and take on that title. I am simply the continuing personality of a program founded by Coach Wescott and perfected by Coach Pusey. I learned from and was brought up by the best. Many could say have stepped in and I am honored that I was chosen. The support, love and prayers of our players, family and community have equipped us with the fortitude necessary to carry on. Everyone knows that the one that mattered most believed in us and that alone provides motivation to stay Pusey Strong.
4. You were very close with Susan Pusey, she was your mentor and high school coach. Do you find yourself incorporating some of things you learned from her onto your team this season?
Everything we do and everything we believe in is rooted in the honor and legacy of Susan Pusey. That is not a just a reality, but a promise.
5. A lot of eyes are on you this season. It seems like all of Delmarva is rooting for your team this season. Is there any pressure involved here?
Normally, one would see all of the fanfare and attention as an added pressure. Truthfully, the support is overwhelmingly encouraging. I just pray that when people see or think Pocomoke Field Hockey, that they feel the honor we are focused on bringing to the program Mrs. Pusey so selflessly gave 110% for day in and day out. Every day is a different day and this season comes with various highs and lows, but our strength comes from the unity we share and the integrity of our program.
6. What are your short and long term goals as the head field hockey coach at Pocomoke?
Short Term: Carry this team to the potential that Pusey saw in them, I know it well!
Long Term: Extending the Pocomoke Field Hockey Family, upholding traditions and leading future players to exceed their potential as a team and individuals.
7. Take me through a typical day of coaching varsity high school field hockey. I don’t think many people realize all the work coaches put in on a daily basis.
Praying in the morning for health of your players and the ability to provide the leadership the need. Then you touch base with the assistant coaches to make sure they are well and any reminders necessary(we support each other as any family would). Someone loads up the uniforms that were washed at home the night before and didn’t dry because they smell better. Swing by the local restaurant the team has chosen to eat at before a game to make sure everyone made it ok(they don’t realize you do this). Check the attendance at school to make sure they all made it to school. Smile walking around school as players wear their game day shirts reminding everyone that we play today. See how everyone is feeling and remind them to see the trainer after school. Make contact with the manager and scorekeeper to see that they are prepared for the afternoon, write and make copies of your roster. PRAY, skip lunch because your nerves are too bad and ice down Gatorade instead, provide inspiration to your players to help them focus on the game. Set out uniforms, pack game day wagon, PRAY, meet with players after school, stay together until game time for fellowship and team building, walk out, warm up and play our game.
8. Your impressions of the Bayside Conference in terms of field hockey. Do you feel like the quality of field hockey is getting better every season?
As more players become involved in advanced play through club, futures and tournaments, the level of play increases. Additionally, the playing surfaces on the Eastern Shore are constantly improving and upgrading. This alone provides speed that players must adapt to and improve their overall control of the ball.
9. What advice would you give to high school student-athletes hoping to play field hockey at the collegiate level?
Work hard and play hard. You are as good as your practice. Expose yourself to higher level competition in the off-season by joining the Futures Program, joining a club team and attending a camp hosted by a University Field Hockey Organization. Remember that someone is always watching, on and off the field. Work as hard in the classroom as you do on the field because your grades are part of the package you present as a player at the next level.