The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Laura Brager: Returning to her roots

Head+field+hockey+coach+Laura+Brager+%28left%29+meets+with+the+referees%2C+captains+and+the+other+team+ahead+of+the+Wildcats+senior+night+victory+over+the+Sherwood+Warriors.+Brager+led+the+Wildcats+to+a+7-4-1+record+this+past+fall.
Photo courtesy of Lifetouch
Head field hockey coach Laura Brager (left) meets with the referees, captains and the other team ahead of the Wildcats’ senior night victory over the Sherwood Warriors. Brager led the Wildcats to a 7-4-1 record this past fall.

Former WJ student Laura Brager loved field hockey and kept with it throughout her childhood, on various skill levels. But upon the arrival of a new and intimidating coach her sophomore year, Brager backed out and didn’t anticipate returning to the WJ field hockey program anytime soon. However, after years of retiring from the game, she came back to WJ in 2016 to teach math and fill the junior varsity (JV) coaching position. After years with the program, Brager stepped up for the 2022 season to take over the role she once feared: varsity field hockey coach.

As a new freshman coming to WJ, Brager decided to join the JV field hockey team so she could continue the hobby which she had kept up throughout her childhood. She planned to continue playing her sophomore year, but upon the arrival of an intimidating coach, she backed out.

“I played a little bit on JV as a student at WJ, and I played club at Emory University,” Brager said.

After choosing to leave after her freshman season, Brager thought her time with the WJ field hockey program would be over, but little did she know she would return sooner than anticipated. In 2014, Brager returned to the familiar WJ JV field hockey team but this time, as a coach.

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After her co-coach and mentor, Karen Mata, left the program, Brager was hesitant to step into the varsity position. With an impeccable precedent, it was difficult for her to feel confident in her potential to take over the position.

“She had the skills, she knows the strategy and it was just very big shoes to fill,” Brager said.

Hannah Teicher took up the varsity position in 2020 while Brager continued to stay in the JV position. Despite popular demand for her to take over the program as varsity coach, Brager stayed in her position until Teicher left the program after getting a new job.

There are skills I have that aren’t field hockey that make me a good coach. And I think that’s what turned out to be equally as important as the skills and strategy.

— Laura Brager

For the 2022 season, Brager finally stepped up as varsity coach which her players were ecstatic about. Alongside her, Lauren Fakler took over the JV position which Brager once held.

“After meeting her I knew that she would be very easy to work with, and she would be someone who would help me as I was new to coaching,” Fakler said.

With the new position, came new challenges which Brager didn’t anticipate. Everything felt more significant and consequential whether it would be for the better or worse.

“Every single position felt like it was important, even the little positions about who to start, or whether to cancel practice. The little positions felt like they mattered a lot more than they probably did,” Brager said.

Despite the challenges, Brager wouldn’t change her decision to take on the new job. Even as the consequences are bigger, so are the benefits which make the decision that much more rewarding and enjoyable.

“It’s fun! I feel like the girls as well as the parents have made me feel like I am capable of it,” Brager said.

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