Home Sports Stephanie Nykaza, Retiring New Trier Field Hockey Coach, Reflects on One Last Run as Trevians Aim for Fifth Consecutive Victory

Stephanie Nykaza, Retiring New Trier Field Hockey Coach, Reflects on One Last Run as Trevians Aim for Fifth Consecutive Victory

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Stephanie Nykaza, Retiring New Trier Field Hockey Coach, Reflects on One Last Run as Trevians Aim for Fifth Consecutive Victory

Stephanie Nykaza is conversant in success. Fourteen state championships in 35 years can’t be ignored. In that point, she has guided Recent Trier to the top of Illinois field hockey.

But the most recent era of Trevians field hockey is unprecedented — for Nykaza, for Recent Trier, and for nearly anyone involved with Illinois field hockey.

The Trevians are in pursuit of their fifth straight state championship (2018-’23, no state tournament in 2020) and are prepared to send Nykaza out on top. The longtime and legendary coach is retiring following the college 12 months, saying that she feels now’s the precise time for her and this system.

The Record spoke with Nykaza, a Winnetka native and Recent Trier alumnus, about her coaching profession and what comes next. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Stephanie Nykaza has some fun along with her players before a game against Antioch on Oct. 11.

The Record: Why do you’re feeling now’s an excellent time to retire?

Nykaza: I made that decision probably last 12 months. … I’m retiring from teaching too. I figured I’ve been coaching for 35 years. After I retire from teaching, I’m going to retire from coaching. And I feel it’s going to be an excellent time to do it. I’ll miss it terribly. I feel I even have some gas within the tank, but I feel that with me exiting teaching, coaching right together with it should be good.

The Record: If you might have more within the tank, why is it good to retire now?

Nykaza: I would like to exit fresh. I don’t need to be a coach that just keeps hanging around for themselves. I would like to be in the combination and I would like to make sure that I can provide the whole lot I can for (the players). It’s going to be nice to have some younger blood coming in. I just didn’t need to be considered one of coaches that hung in it too long. I still feel good and once I retire, I would like to feel good.

The Record: How did you get the coaching job at Recent Trier?

Nykaza: I played here. I began my sophomore 12 months. I ended up playing in college. After I got out of school, I coached in some camps and played on a club team after which Recent Trier got here to me. I could type of work it out with my other job. That’s when the journey began. Now, a bit older and 35 years later, I’m still here. It’s been an incredible run. That’s what I would like. To exit feeling good about Recent Trier and this system and all of the accomplishments these girls have made is so vital.

The Record: You weren’t a teacher at first, how did you get into it?

Nykaza: I’m retiring 29 years in. The primary years as a head coach I used to be not a teacher. … I knew once I began coaching at Recent Trier that wow the parents are right, I’m a teacher at heart. That was 35 years ago. I’m 58 now. I used to be young. Six years later, I began teaching (kinetic wellness) and realized how much I liked it. The transition very easy for me.

The Record: What made it a simple transition?

Nykaza: I worked in corporate fitness. … I’m very big into physical fitness. I got into cardiac rehab and didn’t like it. Working with teenagers was my love. The energy was good for me. I work well in this type of setting.

Nykaza has a postgame laugh with Kennedy Glinn (middle) and Harriet Burne after the state championship in 2022.

The Record: Since your playing days and early days of coaching, how has the game modified?

Nykaza: It’s modified a lot. There was a celebration for me (Oct. 11) and plenty of players from my first team were there who live in the neighborhood. They were shocked (at how much it’s modified). They hadn’t been to a game since. It’s more 3D, more up within the air now. Before it was more on the bottom. The skill these girls should have has progressed. It’s shocking. I’ve rolled with the times. After we grow old players coming in, from once I played until now and wow, it’s modified. But hasn’t the whole lot? Larger, higher, faster, stronger. The sport of field hockey has definitely progressed from the international level all the way down to the highschool level.

The Record: Do you might have retirement plans? Are you going to remain involved with the sport?

Nykaza: We’ve plans of things we’re going to do. My husband is semi-retired. I’m pretty lively still. … I’ll perhaps start running camps and clinics. I do know the way to run them and would help the sport of field hockey in Illinois. I do know here at Recent Trier, if (coach Brittany Romano) and other coaches need assistance, I’ll all the time be around to assist them. … But I’m looking forward to being out of each day grind and being on a bell schedule. It’s been great for me, but it surely’s time. For coaching, I’m OK with it. I feel like I’m stepping out at an incredible time. This system is in an incredible space. That was my big goal once I retired. My No. 1 goal is to make sure that we had the staff to maintain it running.

The Record: All of the championships, all of the successes, how did you do it?

Nykaza: You concentrate on it more the older you get. What do you do, what’s it? There are plenty of layers to that. Yes, knowledge of the game does help — that I even have been a teacher and to have the option to progressively lay things out in a certain system so that they understand. … I actually think thing for me the magic is that you simply show them that you simply care. You have got to be captivated with what you’re doing. Show them you care about them. I would like my players to need to play for me, play for Recent Trier. I feel that’s the important thing: showing that you simply care and being passionate.

I take into consideration field hockey so much. You may’t be an excellent head coach in case you don’t. It’s not only X’s and O’s. It’s so much about them getting along and being captivated with what they’re doing. To me that’s crucial thing: passion, perseverance, and to need to play and need to play hard. And that’s what I’ve loved about it, to look at them progress. I pride myself on that.

Nykaza looks through some historical photos of her time with Recent Trier field hockey.

I’m very pleased with Recent Trier and the way they backed me up for all these years to do what we’ve done. And I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t have the ladies. It’s been an incredible run. I loved being the sphere hockey coach for 35 years. The administration and athletic department have supported me 100%. We’ve wonderful parents who’ve backed up this system. And my coaches, oh gosh, they’ve been great. I’m proud to be a Trevian.

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