Four NSCDS Girls’ Coaching Staffs Recognized with Coach-of-the-Year Honors

The Independent School League (ISL) is an athletic league of nine private secondary schools in the Chicagoland area.
The league was established in 1967 and North Shore Country Day School was one of the original eight teams. This year, four coaches of North Shore girls’ sports teams received ISL Coach-of-the-Year recognition across every season of the 16-17 school year – girls’ field hockey and volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and soccer in the spring.
“I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to coach a group of student athletes who are so self-motivated. We have fun, work hard, and enjoy each other's small and large moments of success,” said field hockey coach Alyssa Dudzik.
Dudzik coached alongside NSCDS alums Mullery Doar ’06 and Madeline Tank ’11 to foster a team that would go on to have the best season in 20 years. The NSCDS field hockey team went 16-5 overall and won the ISL for the third year in a row.
“There is something incredible about the way the teams come together and forget about what grade students are in.  Freshman are valued and given the opportunity to lead and play in the same manner that seniors are,” said Doar.  “The small size of our school and teams provide underclassman opportunities to step into those roles at a younger age, and the leadership and guidance that upperclassman provide them is invaluable.”
The other girls’ fall sport coaches that received ISL-recognition was volleyball. The team had a 14-8 season with three All-Conference players.
“Every coach at the School, no matter the sport, looks out for each other,” said Jordan Holod, volleyball coach and Lower School teacher. “With any recognition we get for accomplishing a goal, we always remember the team behind the achievement rather than the individual.”
Holod coached the volleyball team with Froy Reyes, Upper School teacher Jenn Pfannerstill and former teacher Kelly Dietz, and continued coaching through the winter with Bruce Blair, Brendan Kolton and Beth Schillen to make up the girls’ basketball staff.
“We are lucky to have such a great staff, but the awards are first and foremost a tribute to a team of girls who made their coaches look good by always playing with great effort and a sense of urgency, while understanding the value of communication and being great teammates,” Blair said.
The basketball team had a record-setting 20-4 season, but Blair thinks it can be summarized in the last minute of the Regional Championship game, when the team was trailing by five with a minute left. After having missed several layups, they kept their poise under intense pressure and showed great full-court defense, playing very intelligently for the result of a three-point win and an overjoyed group of players and parents celebrating in the middle of the Mac Gym. The team also received the ISL Sportsmanship award.
“Coaching at North Shore is the opportunity to work with players who have little experience and seeing them develop into enthusiastic and valuable members of the team,” he said.
To wrap up the school year in the spring, Upper School teacher Lizzy Giffen and Physical Education teacher Rebekah Kauffman coached the girls’ soccer team and set a new program record with over 10 wins in a season. The team placed second in the ISL, which is the best in North Shore soccer history, and also won the Regional Tournament.
“There are so many incredible and successful female coaches on our campus.  We are lucky to have strong women in these roles acting as role models for our female athletes, and it should be noticed and celebrated,” Giffen said.
Giffen and Kauffman brainstorm practices together, talk through all decisions and constantly support each other to make sure the little things that are done truly represent the importance of teamwork for the players.
“It creates an organized, focused and fun environment, and it models to the players that the team comes first,” she said. “We want to make sure our players remember the fun of the game.”
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North Shore Country Day School is a junior kindergarten through 12th grade, college-preparatory school founded in Winnetka, Illinois in 1919.  With rigorous academic pursuit as the cornerstone, North Shore provides many opportunities for all students to excel – in the classroom and the laboratory, on the stage and the playing field, in their communities and beyond.