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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - They say that success is built from the top down. Penn State women's hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal would agree with that statement, and that's why he has hand-picked a staff of assistant coaches that he is confident will put his team in the right position to succeed. One of these assistant coaches is none other than Allison Coomey, a longtime lover of the game, a former player who has transitioned from being a student of hockey, to a mindful mentor for a new generation
"There's a lot to like about Allison," Kampersal said when asked about his assistant. "She's just a really good person with a great hockey knowledge and great hockey background. She's been in good places and learned a lot, which she brings to the table now."
Kampersal couldn't be happier with his assistant coach, and believes she's already exceeded his expectations.
"She's someone who is incredibly genuine, kind and smart," Kampersal said. "She's a really good person, I've known her for a long time. I coached against her when she was a player at Niagara, and occasionally against her at BU. She's mature, responsible, and somebody you can count on. She can relate to the players and speak to them honestly with integrity."
Coomey may be new to Penn State, but she's been a part of the sport of hockey for quite a long time. She hails from Baldwinsville, New York, a small town approximately twenty minutes north of Syracuse. In 1998, she traveled westward to attend Niagara University, where she was a dual-sport athlete. On the ice, she served as an alternate captain her senior year and helped push her team to a NCAA Frozen Four appearance. Off the ice, she was chosen as the lacrosse team's rookie of the year in 1999.
Coomey is a firm believer that her athletic experiences have helped mold her into the coach that she is today.
"It helps me understand the players and gives me the empathy to work with them," Coomey said. "I let them each know how important their role is and how they make the team better."
The biggest endorsers for Coomey would have to be her players, the individuals that she dedicates her time and energy to. They appreciate everything she does for the team, and all point out that her knowledge of hockey has helped them grow as players, and continues to do so every day.
"We love coach Coomey," said Katie McMillan, a sophomore defenseman. "After every shift if we made a mistake or there is something we can tweak, she'll point it out to us and give us some good feedback."
"She's an awesome positive reinforcement," said Abby Welch, a sophomore forward. "She always pushes us, she's been an awesome coach."
Coomey loves to coach her players up on the ice, specifically on the defensive side, but she also wants them to become the best they can be in other aspects of life as well. She understands that there is a future for these young women beyond college hockey.
"There is a professional league, but we aren't getting paid what the guys are. So [education] is huge, we put it above everything else here," she said. "We want our kids to get degrees, and to be better people and be better student-athletes."
Commey spent the last nine years of her career as an assistant coach with Boston University before joining Kampersal in Happy Valley this year. She is just finally starting to get comfortable at Penn State, an area that she has never experienced anything like before.
"So far it's great," Coomey said. "Obviously it's a bit different coming from Boston, leaving a city and coming to place where everything that revolves around the university. It makes for a really cool environment, not just the students but for all of us who work here. It's been a great transition."
Coomey has lived a storied life so far, making sure to enjoy it every step of the way. When she's not working with the team, she tries to stay fit and read. When it comes to life, she has a very a simple philosophy.
"The biggest thing is love what you do. I went to school for education, and now I get to teach what I love. We work to make them the best hockey player they can be, but off the ice we want to prepare them for the future. Hockey teaches you so many things, like how to work with others, and I think that's the true goal for this program."
Coomey hopes to push herself to grow as a coach, and to push her players to be the best they can be, on and off the ice. When asked about what the future holds in store for her and if there is a possibility of head coaching in her future, she was all smiles.
"Every year I go back and forth," Coomey said. "All I can say is that I like what I'm doing now."
Here's hoping that Coomey stays with Penn State for a long time, and continues to instil her values upon the young women and push the program forward.