by Gary Hawkins Morning Sentinel
FARMINGTON — Successful field hockey programs are not built in a year or two, but in a relatively short time, Jody Harmon has put Mt. Blue on the map.
In the recent completion of her seventh year as head coach, Harmon took her Cougars to a new level this season when they reached the Class A North regional final where they lost to Skowhegan, which has owned the division for a decade and a half. And this year she did it with just three returning starters.
For her effort, Harmon has been selected Morning Sentinel Field Hockey Coach of the Year.
The Cougars finished at 11-4-2, suffering a disappointing loss against Edward Little in the regular season but also a big win in the tournament semifinal over upstart Cony, which came into the game on a roll.
“We knew it was going to be a lot of work,” Harmon said. “We had a lot of kids who were inexperienced. (Assistant coach) Elizabeth LeClair and I focused on building a team.”
Harmon and her staff tinkered with lineups and position changes throughout the season and, by tournament time, things fell into place.
“That’s the biggest challenge to try and get all 11 players all on the same page all on the same day,” Harmon said.
Harmon played field hockey at Mt. Blue and later for legendary coach Paula Hodgdon at the University of Southern Maine, but her greatest coaching influence came from her mother, Bonnie Yeaton, a hall of fame field hockey referee and her coach in various sport growing up.
“I’ve always been around sports,” Harmon said. “I started coaching my kids in all different sports. I’m good at seeing players and knowing how to help them. Every single day you learn something new.”
Harmon has coached both her daughters in filed hockey — Molly, a junior at Mt. Blue, and Rebecca who plays at Wheaton College — and that can present a challenge.
“I often feel I don’t give them enough credit,” Harmon said.
The Cougars graduate just one senior and will be one of the teams to beat next fall in competitive Class A North, perhaps even winning a championship.
“I feel like we did get over the hump this year,” Harmon said. “It felt like we did break through.”