Bethany Mink: Coaching With Compassion

The JV team huddles up to discuss gameplay. Mink, pictured right, coaches the team alongside JV coach Meily. “To be effective, I need to turn concept into action. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do something, but to actually do it, is where the growth happens,” Mink explained.

Rachel Foster, Staff Writer

Coaching a sport is not an easy task, no matter who the coach is or how much experience they have. Being an effective coach is even more difficult than just being a coach. Bethany Mink, the head coach of State High’s field hockey team, not only understands how to be a great coach for individual players, but also understands the importance of creating unity within her team. 

Mink began her coaching journey three years ago and was a coach for the Mount Nittany and Park Forest Middle School field hockey team, alongside Sharon Herlocher. However, coaching for State High became her first head coaching position. Mink played field hockey for Penn State, and it is an understatement to say that she has a lot of knowledge of all aspects of the game. What changed when she started coaching was her viewpoint of the game: being a player in the game became how she would teach the game to the players. “I think that Beth has a wealth of knowledge about the game and skills and how to develop those skills and she’s able to transmit that information onto the players,” Sean Meily, an assistant coach, said. 

Even before preseason rolled around, Mink had already begun the process of starting up the season. She had morning lift sessions at the fitness center and had open play on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This optional training was utilized by the whole team to make them stronger. When preseason came, everyone was ready to work even harder and push themselves throughout the season. Practices during the season were typically held after school all week, in addition to playing games as well. Mink takes her practices very seriously and established that players should try to be going at “game-speed” at all times and putting in the effort to improve so that what was practiced could be translated into a game very easily. “Even through the mistakes, it’s your effort after the mistake I care about the most,” Mink said. “How hard are you willing to work to reduce the percentage of that mistake. Mistakes in field hockey are inevitable, it’s how you choose to respond to those mistakes that will contribute to how you develop.”

Putting in lots of effort is always a challenge, but Mink emphasized the idea of changing your mindset from “me to we,” which means working to come together and get better as a whole team. Many of the girls on the team would agree that this mindset helped out the way they played. “She gave me really good feedback and also really focused on the little things, which helped me become a better player,” Kendall Kleinman, a senior and a captain, said. “And she’s made a more confident player by pushing me.”

While Mink is a coach, she also strives to be a role model and someone who a team member can turn to when needed. “I want to be the type of person that leads by example,” Mink said. “When you make a mistake, you own it, no matter what the consequence is. I want to be that person that the girls can come to, that they know and understand that I am 100% for them, and that I can help them and lead them, to develop a newfound sense of confidence.”

Even though Mink oversees the team, she couldn’t do it without help. Sean Meily, Rachel Smith, and Chelsea Cummins are a few of the many people that continuously help pull the team together. Mink feels extremely grateful for her opportunity to work with other coaches. “The best part of being able to work with Sean and Rachel is that I get to see their growth as leaders,” Mink said. “Sean helped coached with Chelsea Cummins before I took over three years ago, but in the time that we have worked together, his contribution to the program and my own growth as a leader has been substantial.”

“As for Rachel, Rachel started coaching field hockey when I took over as well, her way of being is more on the silent side but always has provided solid insight to me and I’ve been very grateful to have her calm demeanor to balance out my crazy,” Mink laughed. 

Altogether, the season was successful with the team taking home the D6 district championship against Mifflin County. This is the fourth consecutive year that State High has won the title of district champions. Through everything that has happened, Mink stands with pride for her team and all they have put in this season. “I know it was all worth it at the end of the day when these kids become confident, powerful, strong women,” Mink said. “Each and every one of them is whole and complete. When I see them stand in who they are, when they hit that shot after failing 100x prior, that is when I know it’s worth it, and I see that worth every single day.”