AFTER legendary hockey coach Ric Charlesworth announced he was stepping down as coach of the Kookaburras yesterday, Orange hockey legend Beth Shea reflected on her former colleague’s career.
Shea worked in conjunction with Charlesworth at the 1993 Champions Trophy in Amsterdam, in his first competition as coach of the Australian women’s hockey team (now Hockeyroos).
Shea was appointed manager of the side, and described her experience with Charlesworth as “interesting”.
“My job was essentially to control Ric,” Shea laughed.
“In Europe a manager is in the football manager mould - they’re seen to do everything. So I was getting called out about what Ric was up to.
“He was in his first tournament, and I think he was seeing how much he could get away with on the bench. He got sent off the bench at one stage actually, and sat in the stands yelling instructions at everyone.”
Charlesworth has since taken on coaching roles with AFL club the Fremantle Dockers, the New Zealand cricket team, the Indian hockey team and of course, his current role as Kookaburras coach.
“Shea said his vision was obvious even in 1993, and his coaching ability is virtually second to none.
“He was well ahead of his time,” she said.
“He was very smart, incredibly intelligent, and he had incredible vision for the way he wanted his teams to play.
“He introduced new systems throughout his years with the women, which we still see in place today in both Australia’s national teams.
“He was also the first to experiment with rolling substitution ideas, he was the first to use 15 highly fit and talented players with the subs system, to ensure his team kept momentum.”
Shea said Charlesworth’s influence is clear among modern coaches, and said he had a big influence on her as a mentor.
“He certainly showed me what not to do,” she laughed.
“Ric certainly expanded my horizons in terms of creating strategic patterns, and giving players the best ways to utilise their abilities.
“It’s funny, when a coach like Ric steps down everyone seems to say how big of a hole it leaves.
“However, I think in this case, the culture and systems within the Kookaburras are set, all the way to the youngest players. Any good new coach will just add their flavour to it, and adapt.
“I’ll be very interested to see who puts their hand up.”
Charlesworth will retire after this year’s Commonwealth Games.