Nonnewaug's Brenner - Coach of the Year
Nonnewaug’s Brenner – Coach of the Year
Nonnewaug field hockey coach Kathy Brenner had a very merry Christmas thank-you. But if the truth be known, Brenner’s Christmas came long before Dec. 25. Her good tidings abounded during a superb fall season.
Brenner was recently selected as the Outstanding Class M Coach of the Year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-State Field Hockey Selection Committee and why not.
Brenner led the Chiefs through an undefeated regular season which resulted in the Berkshire League championship, a No. 1 ranking in the Class M state tournament and an overall record of 17-1. The Chiefs’ season ended with a 1-0 overtime loss to eventual finalist Hand-Madison and a 17-1 record.
As for a little icing on the cake, the honor also comes for the season in which she passed the 100-win mark (now 104 and counting).
Brenner, who accepted her award at a recent banquet she attended with players Lauran Villanova and Alexa Brazauskas, admitted to being a bit stunned at the honor.
“Now I’m pretty proud. When I first heard my name I was completely, totally in shock,” said Brenner. “Little old me from little old Nonnewaug going against schools like Wilton, Farmington, Darien and Hand who are all turf teams…. When Newell ( former Athletic Director Porch) gave me the letter I threw it up in the air and ran.”
Brenner’s honor has been a long time coming. Now in her 15th season of coaching, the first two seasons at her alma mater Lewis Mills and the last 13 at Nonnewaug, she took over a program in 1998 that was coming off of a winless season and hadn’t won a league game in three years.
Drawing on the experience of her playing days at Mills and Elizabethtown College, a large reservoir of patience and a huge appreciation for the sport, she proceeded to build starting at the feeder level.
In 1999 she started a park and recreation program for second through sixth grade level. Most of the girls on this year’s Nonnewaug team played in the program.
“Field hockey is an upcoming sport, it’s getting more popular especially with so many girls playing lacrosse in the spring,” said Brenner. “If people give the sport a chance, it is an exciting game. Newell Porch saw the game for the first time this fall and grew to love it. It’s one of the reasons I started the park and rec program, to give kids a chance to play.”
In terms of winning, it has all come to fruition this year with the Chiefs earning Brenner’s second title, the other coming in 2005, and breaking Mills’ stranglehold on the title after seven straight crowns.
“We knew we definitely had a chance at the title, we lost only four seniors from last year,” said Brenner. “Obviously we had to get over the mental thing of Lewis Mills. But this year’s team gave it its heart and soul. They never gave in. That’s how we won the title.”
Brenner also appreciates the effort of former players and coaches especially Lauren Valla who currently handles the middle school team.
Coaches around the state said they appreciate the job Kathy Brenner has done. It has been a long time coming. Now she has two titles – Nonnewaug coach and Coach of the Year. Both titles to be proud of.