Lower Dauphin's Kreiser Retires After 45 Years Leading the Varsity Program
by Jana Benscoter, Female Athlete News Founder
More often than not, in sports, the relationship between coach and player should transcend the outcome of any game.
Coaches are meant to bring out the best in their players, lead them to a seasonal destination, and cultivate an attitude of success, even when you lose. The very best of them have a unique opportunity to offer perspective to impressionable athletes.
There aren’t many who can withstand decades of social change and still walk away with the love of sport, community, and a drove of healthy, positive relationships.
Lower Dauphin’s head field hockey coach is one of those gems.
Linda Kreiser last week penned her resignation letter to the school district and told Lower Dauphin’s middle and high school coaches, as well as youth league coaches on a Zoom meeting. Lower Dauphin announced its job opening for a new varsity field hockey coach on Tuesday.
“It’s been an honor for me to be the coach,” Kreiser said in a phone interview with FAN. “I’m so grateful that the parents trusted me enough to be their girls’ coach. I never liked being in the spotlight. If they do things for me, I will greatly appreciate it. It’s not about me. Lower Dauphin is not about one person, and I never wanted it to be about me. That’s what we emphasize: teamwork. That is our tradition and we’re about upholding our traditions.”
Kreiser’s influence at Lower Dauphin adds up to 50 years. She was a field hockey athlete for three years, coached junior high for two, and led the high school program for 45. Her final record is 876-124-44.
The highly decorated coach, who will continue to play at the USA Master level later this summer, could have coached anywhere, but remained loyal to her Hummelstown community. She also was a teacher at Lower Dauphin.
She traveled to South Africa last fall (in the middle of the fall field hockey season) to play in the 2022 World Masters Hockey World Cup, which had been postponed in 2020. When she returned, she capped off her finale in a 2022 PIAA Class 3A overtime, energetic, and memorable battle against Wilson. The Falcons won 3-2.
“The girls gave me the greatest gift,” Kreiser said. “We won states. And, I can go out on top.”
The number of assistant and volunteer coaches is a testament to Kreiser’s relationship-focused philosophy. At any given time throughout recent years, she’s had up to 15 coaches teaming up with her.
“In the last five years, coaching has been a year-to-year thing,” she said. “I kept thinking, I hope I can make it to 70, and now I’m 70. But, I have a great coaching staff. I think we have a lot of good coaches and I think the program is going to be in good hands. I’ll stay on as a volunteer. I love field hockey. I love to teach. I love the kids. So, it will be fine.”
Kreiser’s plans now that she’s “retired?”
“I personally am going to be on a trip to Italy for two weeks at the beginning of the season to play in a Master’s tournament,” she said. “And, then I’m going to try to be (at Lower Dauphin) as much as I can. And, then I’ll keep trying out for USA Masters.”
Lower Dauphin field hockey is going to celebrate its 60th anniversary this year, she said.
“I’ve been a part of it for the past 50 out of 60 years,” Kreiser said.
Kreiser became head coach in the 1978-79 season, according to the district. She started her winning career going 9-2 and claiming a conference title. She continued to build her legacy throughout the past 44 years winning seven state championships and 16 District 3 championships.
“I learned over the years that the LDFH program is not about one person – it is about team, tradition, love and joy,” Kreiser wrote in the letter. “I learned that from Miss Bea Hallman, who founded the program in 1963, who was my coach in high school. She was my mentor as a young athlete and she was there for me when I became a coach.”
“The time is right for me to pass the reins to the next coach,” Kresier said.
“I love the game of field hockey and I love LDFH,” she wrote. “I will always be a member of the LDFH family and I am not going away."
Players, parents, and coaches have learned more than field hockey from her, Jamie Pollock said. Pollock, who played for Kreiser in high school and coaches at the middle school and youth league levels, has two daughters who play at Lower Dauphin. Pollock’s oldest is a rising senior.
“I will be 44 in April and I met Coach Kreiser when I was 10,” Pollock said. “What I said in my letter of recommendation for LD’s next coach, is it’s not filling the shoes of Linda Kreiser because those shoes can’t be filled. She has instilled passion for field hockey and relationships, and she has taught us so much more than field hockey and skills and the game. How to thrive and how to lead and how to love people and to love them where they’re at. The relationships are the biggest things I’ve taken away from what she taught me. And, hopefully, my girls who have had an ounce of their time spent with her compared to the 33 years I’ve had with her, is what they also will take away.”
The Falcons have high standards on and off the field. And, among them is consistency in behavior by showing respect to all. Kreiser responded to her standards by also adhering to them.
“It’s always about the people and the sport,” Pollock said. “She’s 70 and she’s still flying around the world to play. She loves the sport and above the sport, she loves people. She lifts people up even in hard times and circumstances. She deals with teenage girls and it’s not all roses and sunshine. It’s pretty amazing what she’s done.”
As far as finding the next Lower Dauphin head coach, Pollock admires Kreiser’s enthusiastic and calm mindset.
“She told the coaches on a Zoom that we have her full support,” Pollock said. “She said to make changes and don’t be afraid to do that. I think it was freeing for all of us.”
Kreiser’s advice to the new hire and new coaches in general, “you have to be yourself.”
“You cannot pattern yourself after anyone else,” Kreiser told FAN. “Be true to yourself. Really care about your kids. You are there to teach and to love and to understand. Wins and losses are one thing and those are important. It’s the process of teaching the game, knowing what to expect at each competition. Believe in them. Teach them to believe in themselves. If you do the process, eventually good things will come.”
She continued: “I’ve had a lot of joy working with the girls. I really think they are making a difference in our world.”