With the new buzz of a fresh group of athletes entering the Vassar spectrum, one team has pushed through a drastic change in their team dynamic. The Women’s Field Hockey team recently underwent a change in staff. Longtime head coach Cara Dunn decided to leave Vassar for another job as a coach at Wheaton College, and new head coach Michael Warari stepped in her position to bring the team to a winning record.
Warari was hired on to Vassar’s coaching staff this past summer. He previously served as an assistant coach at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA for one year. At Dickinson, Warari assisted with recruiting and scouting for the team, as well as specializing in instruction of the goalkeepers. Before joining the Dickinson staff, Warari was an assistant at Division III powerhouse Messiah College in Grantham, PA, from 2008-2011.
Warari had multiple reasons for making a change and moving to Vassar. “Wanting to be a Head Coach was the biggest draw,” explained Warari in an emailed statement. “Vassar being such a prominent academic institution was a plus.” However, Warari did have to overcome one very important obstacle to come here. “My lovely wife Emily had to approve the move in order it for it to happen,” wrote Warari.
Although new to the team, Warari already has big plans. “I hope to continue building on the program’s growing success, while making it competitive in the conference,” Warari stated. “Above all, I want to build a team that represents a strong sense of community, care and discipline on and off the field.” Consistency, according to Warari, is key to the team’s success. “Being consistent at practices, individual meetings, games etc is the best way to reach and pursue those ‘so-called’ goals.”
Warari loves a lot of aspects of the team, but is most impressed by the quality of players and the character of the women who play. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of women to work with and to be around on and off the field,” expressed Warari. “They are intelligent, smart, competitive and also very caring towards one another, they truly are making each other better and living a good impression on our coaching staff.”
While Warari holds high respect for his team members, they equally hold as much respect for him as a coach. Senior co-captain Catherine Fiore is very optimistic about Warari’s effect on the team. “I believe the new coach’s mind set and his fresh approach to the game will bring our team to new heights,” wrote Fiore in an emailed statement. “I am so excited and prepared for the upcoming season, and have never been more challenged to bring everything I have when I step on the field at every practice. I feel like a new stronger team as many of our players are becoming so much better with the individualistic approach he and our assistant coach give to them at every practice.”
Senior player Elisabeth Raskopf echoed her captain’s sentiments. “Coach Warari has brought an entirely new attitude to the Vassar College Field Hockey program,” expressed Raskopf. “He has high expectations for us but he also has the skills and knowledge to instill in us a winning strategy. We have a coach who we can trust and who believes in us each and every second. We are a more confident team and a more formidable force on the field and we know we can win because coach believes in us and has shown us what works. I am really excited to be a part of this season and I’m looking forward to surprising the Liberty League and going far.”
Warari’s experience has proven to be invaluable during the early games for this season. The team pulled off an easy first win against Keystone College 7-1 on Aug 30, while also edging out Manhattanville College during the Betty Richey Tournament held on Vassar’s campus from Sep 6-7; Vassar won 2-1 in overtime. The Brewers also had a slim loss against Smith College, losing 2-3 in overtime.
Sophomore player Bianca Zarrella has already claimed to have learned a lot in the short time she has worked with Warari. “His main motto revolves around discipline and holding ourselves as well as teammates accountable,” Bianca explained. “He’s taught me that no matter what you should always strive to become better, and you should never be complacent. He also says that by striving to be a better player, whether it’s by making sure your passes are on target or you shots on goal, you make your team as a whole better. His positive and encouraging mentality will help us win games for sure.”