Boiling Springs field hockey coaches resign after 2022 undefeated season

The 2022 Boiling Springs field hockey team has left an indelible memory for the program that won’t soon be forgotten.

But, as with many rites of passage, the Bubblers will soon have new leaders at the helm directing a new squad in 2023.

Head coach Kortney Showers, and assistant coaches Heather Eickhoff and Janelle Howard, told the 2022 team that they would be resigning as coaches at the end of the team’s 26-0 historical season. Showers’ resignation was made public on Friday, Feb. 10.

“When I saw the announcement, I went right back to that ugly crying when I told the girls I was leaving the first time,” Showers told FAN. “It felt like I was giving it up all over again.”

Showers, who’s getting married in June and recently made a professional career change, said she had to make a personal call to resign from coaching. The timing just so happened to align with increased conflicting professional schedules that both Eickhoff and Howard were also trying to manage.

“It’s incredibly hard,” Eickhoff said. “The day that we pulled everyone in to tell them, it was after the state championships, but before our senior banquet. Boy, we all cried. Some of the players cried with us. I’m stepping away to hopefully watch (my daughter Reagan) play. I love those kids like they’re my own. And, I love this team. And, I have nieces coming up through the school district. I wanted to make sure we built a strong foundation. This past season, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. What a way to end. Also, the worst possible time to leave for all of us.”

Showers, and her coaches, led the Bubblers in 2022 to its first District 3 Class 1A championship and first PIAA Class 1A championship. In Showers’ six years as head coach, she said she grew into the role.

“It was tough in my first year,” she said. “I had a philosophy in mind. I had never been an assistant coach. I really leaned a lot on Heather and took her mentorship. I made the program my own in the end. I wanted the girls to know the program wasn’t about me.”

She continued: “I just wanted to make sure they had the power and the ability to lead on their own and teach them that they had it within themselves to do that. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert of the game or of the x’s and o’s. When I was able to open up to them, they were able to open up to me.

It was that authenticity. We aren’t all perfect, and we’re all not going to get along, but you have to figure it out and learn how to work it out. We wanted the girls to leave the team to not just know how to succeed on a field hockey team, but also in life by playing Bubbler hockey.”

Eight seniors are graduating in 2023, which will create an entirely new starting lineup.

“Hearing about our coaches leaving definitely upsets me because I feel like they created such a strong and supportive environment for our team,” junior Reese Hays said. “The atmosphere they created made it so that all the girls on the team could approach them about anything. They were open and honest but also good coaches who knew the game very well. Our coaches truly were the best in many different ways, and I’m upset about them leaving but I totally respect their decision and understand where they’re coming from. Coaching a high school team and having full time jobs and families is definitely a challenge.”

Hays emphasized that she’s extremely excited for her senior year, but she’s nervous.

“There’s only a few starters left on the team that haven’t graduated for next year, so it makes me nervous about what’s to come,” she said. “Playing without having Genna (Bush), Lexi (Hanlin), Reagan (Eickhoff) or Shae (Bennett) is definitely going to be a change and we’re going to have to get used to it, which makes me especially nervous because now we just lost our whole coaching staff, too. But, I know the chemistry that we have as a team will still remain and we’re going to do so good. So my thoughts for senior year season are nervous, but excited for new things to come.”

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“It’s not fair to the kids,” Eickhoff said. “At the end of the season, Kort was just getting to the games in time. I played at Boiling Springs. I love Bubbler hockey – to me, that’s a real thing…Given our personal lives, we had to step aside. I’ll still be at games. And, I still love the kids. This is certainly really, really difficult to do.”

Once the advertisement was published, Showers said she felt a wave of emotion. This is the time of the year when she’d start to reconnect with her athletes for off-season spring training and introduce herself to incoming freshman.

“Now it’s official,” she said. “There’s no turning back.”

There’s at least one person who is interested in the head coach position and others who are also interested in learning more about coaching for the Bubblers, Showers said.

“The community as a whole, and (Athletic Director) Rachel (Boyle’s) leadership…we leaned on her for advice and guidance,” Showers said. “I know whoever takes over, she’ll help to support them, but the parents have also helped out in the background to get us to where we are.”

She continued: “I told the girls and a lot of people, if I could make this my full-time job, coaching high school, I would do it in a heartbeat. There are a lot of other outlets where you can coach – club – but high school has also become a year-round expectation.

“And, I soaked it up, but just having my own family now and professionally stepping away from the district from teaching, a majority of the season, I was driving to get to the games. Heather and Janelle were sacrificing professional time. We really had to lean on each other. I’m going to miss early morning emails, weekend emails and phone calls, and the more successful you get, the more taxing it gets. It just takes time away from family and life.”

There’s a good chance that the 30-year-old will find her way back to hockey. But, as for her upcoming plans this fall, she said she wants to travel to watch some of the Class of 2023 play in college. She wants to cheer on the new Boiling Springs squad. And, she wants to visit her family, who live a few hours away.

Field hockey isn’t going to drop off for Showers. Her mom, who played at Lock Haven and is an All-American and Hall of Fame inductee, was also her timekeeper at games. Showers played at Juniata College.

“My mom is so humble with her accomplishments,” Showers said.

The Bubblers motto last season was a line from Herb Brooks’ famous speech given to the USA Men’s National Ice Hockey Team before they played the Soviet Union National Hockey team in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics – “This is our time.”

“I truly loved that hour or two hours of my day, that was the best part of my day,” Showers said. “No matter what happened in the classroom or my full-time job, it didn’t matter. I just soaked up that time with them. Even with Heather and Janelle. We had so much fun as coaches. It was much more than winning championships. It was the daily grind and just spending time with them.”

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