Gilford's head coach Dave Rogacki answered some questions for us before his season starts next week. Rogacki enters his 30th year coaching the sport and is closing in on the 400 win milestone. He also looks to make his fifth consecutive final four with Gilford, third straight final and tries to repeat as D3 State Champions. Gilford has also had a good preseason so far, over the weekend they went perfect at their jamboree, and let up only one goal. They still have three more scrimmages before they kick off their season, Tuesday they are at D2 Kingswood, Thursday they travel to play D1 power house Winnacunnet, and then they wrap things up Saturday in Manchester, with a three team round robin tournament with D2 Milford, and Lindsey Stagg's D2 Runner-Up Derryfield.
Other than yourself, who are the top 3 programs in your division?
"Newfound, Winnisquam, and Hopkinton each have a core of experienced players in key positions."
Coming off a championship season, you only lost two starters to graduation, what's it like knowing you have a large core group of players coming back?
"We lost 10 Seniors from last year's team who played key roles in mentoring and teaching the younger players. We have to hope the work they did last year will continue to progress. One of our goals this year will be to develop a support system that will help the Freshmen."
More specifically you have Jill Lachapelle and Kellie Ryan returning, Ryan was arguably one the best players in the state last year, what's it like knowing you have those two returning?
"Jillian and Kellie have great work habits and love the game. I am hoping these two traits are absorbed by the younger players as we go forward through the season."
For back to back seasons now, you are going to be starting only two seniors, the rest will be freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Last season you started four freshmen, and one sophomore who had never played field hockey until last year. Most coaches would not consider a starting lineup like that. What gives you the confidence to put your faith in those players?
"Our Seniors have always supported the underclassmen, and I never look at the grade the players are in. What is more important is the ability to learn the game and a desire to play together. It is very hard to build a program if you only invest in upperclassmen. Trust is a major component in our program."
Last year you became the only coach to win a championship at two different schools in New Hampshire, what was that feeling like?
"The two games mirrored each other in that underclassmen played key roles throughout the season and stepped up during the playoffs. Both were 1 - 0 scores, and you always remember the goals that won the game. Never thought about being the first coach to win a championship in the same sport at two different schools. Every championship comes with its own special feelings, and it never gets old."
Last question, Gilford won one game the year before you arrived since then they have made six consecutive playoff appearances, the past four Final Fours, and the last two finals, winning last years. Did you think that was possible to do when you took the job, and what do think is the primary factor as to why you turned the program around?
"My major goal was to build a successful program and put together a foundation that would continue from year to year. The parents have been very supportive, and the players have bought into our style of play. The middle school program has continued to develop players who come to the high school with fundamentals that are incorporated very quickly to our style of play and allows us to use Freshmen at the Varsity level very early in their playing careers."