"True champions aren't always the ones that win, but those with the most guts." Mia Hamm, Olympic Gold Medalist, FIFA Women's World Cup Champion - Soccer
Sitting in the Episcopal athletic department surrounded by the female coaches you get a sense of guts, grit and family. Madeline Gugich, Heidi Hebert, Taylor Mims and Brenna Perez are the real deal. They are 100% committed to team success and, if possible, even more committed to the individual players who wear the numbers that make up their teams.
Deep inside these women, the young girl who loved sports still thrives. Looking back on their time as competitors the coaches list a range of benefits associated with sports. “Being an athlete made me feel like there was nothing I couldn’t do,” said Coach Perez. “I learned how to achieve my goals and the value of having something to work toward,” said Coach Hebert.
Research proves the coaches right. According to “The Girls’ Index: New Insights into the Complex World of Today’s Girls,” there are significant benefits for female athletes, including the following:
Female athletes at Episcopal have a range of sports in which to compete and the benefit of being able to play in multiple sports in a single school year. Since 1990, 29 outstanding female athletes have earned the Episcopal Female Athlete of the Year Award, which has been known as the Annslee Laura Phillips Memorial Award since 2000. Award recipients have continued to develop their athletic abilities even after graduation. Meghan O’Leary, the 2003 award recipient, went on to compete in the 2016 Olympic games as a member of the US rowing team. Other recipients, such as April Brown and Bria Johnson, went on to successful college athletic careers. Coach Mims, who received the award in 2009, even returned home to Episcopal to inspire other female athletes in the same way she was inspired years ago.
coaches, pressure and everything that goes with it, are just part of who they are and adding “athlete” to that simply takes it to the next level. “Put that number on your back and you’re a totally different person,” says Hebert.
Life as a coach is intense. “We don’t just coach the sport. We coach the life lesson,” says Gugich. Gugich says a good coach is a motivator who inspires athletes to achieve in everything they do. She says she aspires to teach her athletes the killer instinct needed to compete and to persevere. For Coach Mims, it is important that her athletes learn to fail well. “We fear failure and we have to get students past that,” she says. “I teach athletes to fail in practice and that it is OK because you get better by making errors.”
The coaches admit that team sports were different when they were in the game. “There are more opportunities available now for women,” says Perez, who actually grew up playing on a boys team because the opportunities at the time were scarce for women. “I hope they realize the opportunities out there for them and that they are capable of doing anything they want to do,” says Hebert.
Despite the long hours, having to wear their baby on their hip while they run drills and the demands of mothering a team, this group of amazing women would not have it any other way.
“Once an athlete, always an athlete,” says Perez, with unanimous agreement from the others.
Regardless of career pursuits and life aspirations, one thing is certain. The support and strength female athletes gain as a member of a team serves them well throughout their lives. Like the coaches who support them, Episcopal female athletes have guts, grit and a sense of family.
Alumni Reflect on a Coach's Influence
A coach is like a second mother to female athletes. The lessons learned through athletics influence a player for their entire life. Here is a look at what Episcopal graduates remember about their favorite coaches.
Episcopal athletics WAS high school. I was lucky enough to play volleyball for Coach Mansur and Coach Price for 4 years. No where else could I have experienced bus breakdowns, across the spectrum teen girl personalities and the shenanigans that go along with them, being State Runner-Ups, and having a Coach of the Year all in one! Mostly ups, a few downs, and memories that I still hold dear as some of the best ever! I cannot thank Episcopal, Coach Mansur, and Coach Price enough for giving me those!
Anna Hackler Wall
Class of 1996
My softball coach at Episcopal High School helped shape me into the person I am today. Coach Heidi Hebert was not only my coach throughout the years, she was a second mother to me. She truly helped me through every pitch of every game, and also every event life threw my way. I am truly thankful that our lives crossed paths through EHS athletics!
Class of 2014
Episcopal Athletics taught me that winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. When I look back on my time at Episcopal, I remember many things. I remember locker room talks before running out to “pepper” on the volleyball court, and our bus ride dance party on the way to the Pontchartrain Center for the state tournament. I remember trapping a ground ball out to left field with my foot during my first softball game, and I remember playing drums on the turned over white buckets in the dugout with all of my best friends. I remember hours of soccer practice behind the football field, and sweaty, smelly yellow pennies that coach claims she washed. I remember half time talks where we were losing 3-0 and planning the major comeback, and I remember the dreadfully early 6am warm-ups in the 50 degree weather at Lafreniere Park. But most importantly, I remember the final whistle. Because of my coaches, I have learned that not only in the games, but in life, you must always play to the final whistle. Because of Episcopal Athletics, I am determined to be better for something bigger than myself, and I remember Episcopal Athletics as the biggest building block to my high school successes, and career endeavors. Having the opportunity to give Episcopal athletes what my coaches gave to me, and being able to share my experiences and knowledge with students that also want to be apart of something more than just the game, is why I’m happy to forever be an Episcopal Knight.
Class of 2016
I was born around sports and grew up loving them. Being a coach’s daughter at Episcopal wasn’t the easiest, but the Episcopal coaches became a second family. From playing sports, I learned that winning is not everything. Though it is what you want the most, that’s not always the case at a school like ours. What’s most important is the friendships and family built on a team. Each year in high school, being on a team became more and more important to me because I was one year closer to never having a close feeling like that again. The Episcopal coaches care more about who you surround yourself with and your own well being before your win-loss record. At the end of the day, I don’t remember the score to any regular season game. I remember the feeling of winning the softball district championship my senior year playing with my sister, and I remember the final out of the playoff game knowing I was never going to play the sport of softball again. The Episcopal coaches taught me to have such a passion for sports. Episcopal athletics has shaped me into a better person. Without it, Episcopal would have been different for me. I will never forget the coaches who have taught me lifelong lessons and I will never forget the valuable memories made on the field, on the court, and off.
Class of 2018
Episcopal coaches will soon have a new Athletic Field House in which to work. To learn more about the project click here.