After a 2-12 season, the Ramapo College Roadrunners field hockey team welcomed a new head coach this fall.
And Jennifer Tafro brought a hefty resume with her.
Tafro was an All-American during her playing career at Montclair State University. Tafro turned down Division 1 offers to become a Red Hawk. During her time at Montclair, she made a National Championship appearance her junior year, and the team was ranked number one in the country for her junior and senior year.
Tafro’s playing came to end at Montclair but she didn’t shy away from the sport. She went onto Frostburg State University to become a graduate assistant coach, while obtaining her masters in education. Tafro moved on from Frostburg to become the assistant coach at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Tafro was a part of the Lynx’s NCAA Tournament appearance and their fourth conference championship in the last five seasons.
The resume is stacked for Tafro, but she had to ask herself if she was ready for a head coach position. With encouragement from friends, Tafro applied to the opening. The big factor for Tafro taking the job wasn’t the 30-minute commute from Wayne, New Jersey, but a connection she already had with Ramapo.
“One of my good friends growing up came here a few years ago,” she said. “He unfortunately passed away, but there has always been this connection with Ramapo because of him.”
Tafro is bringing her own philosophy to the Roadrunners for the new era of the field hockey program. Tafro wanted a clean slate for the team and to start over.
“For me, it is not about wins and losses,” she said. “It is about how hard we are playing, if we can walk off the field and feel that we gave our best every game. That is my philosophy.”
This season being her first at Ramapo, the skill level of the team was an unknown to Tafro.
Through preseason, Tafro assessed their skill level and now knows that there is plenty of talent on the roster. Tafro’s philosophy makes sure to emphasize the little things in the game. Tafro said, “We do a lot of the same drills over and over again. Through preseason they have got progressively better and better and better.”
Progress was the major spotlight for this team coming into the 2017 season.
The field hockey team hasn’t recorded more than two wins in a season since 2012.
Tafro starting fresh with her reign as head coach by setting season goals. Her first goal of the season was to have more wins this season than last season. Last Thursday, she accomplished that goal with the team’s third win of the season over Western Connecticut State.
Tafro’s second goal is to have six wins for the season, while her reach goal is either eight or nine. Her last goal is to beat an NJAC opponent. There are nine games left in the season, so both goals could be obtained very shortly.
The Roadrunners stand at 4-5 on the season thus far.
Tafro is looking to keep the team rolling as they approach the later part of their schedule. The bottom half of their schedule is filled with NJAC play. Tafro is familiar with NJAC games as a player, but this will be her first taste as a coach.