Coach of the Season: Costantini leads MS swimming, field hockey

In the Middle

Middle School Coach Erika Costantini is a coach her teams can always count on. She’s experienced, reliable and good at motivating her athletes. She has been a KO coach for 20 years, influencing the lives of all the athletes she has coached. While at KO, she has coached field hockey and swimming.

When asked to choose which one she prefers, she said she couldn’t. “Oooh, that’s really difficult,” she said. “I love both for different reasons.” Coach Costantini said she likes swimming because she started when she was five-years-old and is very knowledgeable about the sport.

On the other hand, she said she likes field hockey because she started playing in fifth grade, and she likes to see people discover the sport and how much players grow when they are new to a sport.

Coach Costantini did not play these sports in college; however, she did coach sports and was an aquatic director so she was exposed to them. “I like coaching because I get to know new people and view the athletic side to my students,” she said.

In field hockey, Coach Costantini focuses most on players’ stances especially when they are new to the sport. “We learn so many new skills and techniques from Coach Costantini that we wouldn’t have learned otherwise,” eighth-grader center back Alex Arnold said.

Not only does she teach new skills, but she also promotes good sportsmanship, as well as being a good teammate and a selfless player. One of the traditions of the field hockey team is the Hard Hat tradition. The Hard Hat is a recognition given to whoever played best in the game and displayed good sportsmanship. This person signs the hat and gives it back after they’re done. It is given out every game, and it is always an honor to receive.

This year, the field hockey team was unexpectedly large, having 20 players. To manage this team, Head Coach Meredith Crowther and Coach Costantini had to work together and help each other out. “Having a big team was hard because a lot of people were new and didn’t have experience,” Arnold said, “It caused us to lose our first game but we learned a lot from it.”

The coaches were able to come up with a system to give every athlete playing time. First, they choose three players that worked well together and swapped them for a different group of three after five to eight minutes.

“We like to switch them this often because they might get tired or need ‘new legs.’ But first, we will put the eighth-graders in because they have the most experience,” Coach Costantini said.

In swimming, Coach Costantini keeps her swimmers motivated by changing up the way she runs practices. She likes to mix in relays, competitions, challenges and Fun Fridays. Fun Friday practices have no workouts and consist of only free swim.

In additions, Coach Costantini likes to break up the practice and introduce a variety of new drills to keep the swimmers from getting bored.

Coach Costantini and Head Coach Clay Miles divide up the swimming lanes based on what technique a swimmer wants to work on. Coach Constantini said that swimmers are usually very understanding of the lanes they are placed in.

“You’re swimming against yourself basically so you want to find a pace that works for you,” Coach Costantini said. “Kids are usually okay with where they are put.”

The most important thing she tells her swimmers is teamwork even though swimming is more of an individual sport. She went on to explain how swimming is hard and swimmers are going against themselves. “Congrats for having the heart of a swimmer,” Coach Constantini said she tells her swimmers.

Eighth-grade swimmer Sarah Cioffi said Coach Costantini is always motivating the swim team and pushing the team to be the best it can be. “Funny, motivating and inspiring,” she said when asked to describe Coach Costantini in three words.  

Coach Costantini has helped the Middle School students become better athletes in various sports and has given so much in the past 20 years. Here’s to hoping she continues to coach more successful seasons in her future.