HARMAR TWP., Pa. — On Aug 9, 2016, Jennifer Kindret was named the the first head coach in King’s College history. The Division-III program debuted over a year later and is currently prepared to close out their first season this weekend in Utica.
For Kindret, the opportunity was her first at the lead job. The 2013 Robert Morris graduate took a quick route in comparison to most, but former teammates and coaches aren’t surprised by her quick ascension.
“Jen was probably the smartest hockey player I’ve played with,” former Robert Morris teammate Courtney Langston said. “She sees the ice better than most players. She was also great at teaching. As a teammate, she was always teaching, talking to us about how the next time we should do this, or how that was great. There was no doubt she was going to step in to a coaching role after she graduated.”
Kindret accrued 13 goals and 17 assists over her four years at Robert Morris, but her maturity was something that caught incoming head coach Paul Colontino. Colontino took the reigns from Nate Handrahan starting in Kindret’s junior season.
“She was pretty mature,” Colontino recalled. “She was an individual who thought about what she was going to say before she said it. She was more purposeful in what she said and how she did things. That’s a huge quality that you don’t see very often in college athletes.”
Her time at Robert Morris started a process that led to stops at Chatham and Lindenwood as an assistant coach before getting the call from King’s. Kindret took in every opportunity to retain as much information as possible from her colleagues.
“I learned a lot from the two coaches I had at Robert Morris,” Kindret said. “I learned a lot working under Jason Evans at Chatham and Scott Spencer at Lindenwood. Having a couple different looks as a player and colleagues from staff, I kind of picked points from each program that worked. I have my own vision as a player and as a coach, and pulling it all together has helped me start this program; and in my vision for this program as well.”
Kindret was hired 14 months prior to the first game in club history, giving her a full year to recruit her own players. The inaugural game was a Commonwealth Cup matchup with Neumann College at the Alpha Ice Complex in Harmar on Nov. 3. The following day the team recorded the first goal in team history off the stick of Josee Aitken. Success on the ice wasn’t something that was going to be measured by wins and losses, as the team is comprised of all first-years and one sophomore.
“Its tough with a first-year program,” Kindret said. “Most people will look at the results or the record. For us as a coaching staff, we’re looking at the progression as a whole and how they’re developing as student-athletes at a college level.
“It’s been crazy to see some of the individual progression and skill development and watch them learn the system. We’re happy as a coaching staff, we have a strong core group who believe in what we’re doing. We’re excited for things to come.”
While the growing pains are plentiful, it’s something that every Division-I athlete has to deal with. Kindret has the luxury of passing that along to her D-III players.
“I think first and foremost, competing at the Division-I level prepares you in a lot of different ways. Maintaining school, athletics and a social life, that definitely prepares you for time management. Going through two different coaches, from Robert Morris being a newer program to winning the CHA’s. For four different seasons, we had some different looks and some ups and downs that prepared me for adversity. I learned to push myself and push my players and to try to get the best with them from King’s, too.”