Boston College Women’s Hockey announced last week that former Eagle and two-time captain (or three-time captain if you include her time with the women’s basketball team) Andie Anastos ‘17 has been signed on as the team’s new assistant coach. We sat down with Andie to talk about her move behind the bench and to get her thoughts on what it means to make the leap into the world of coaching.
BC Interruption: You graduated in 2017, then played your graduate year with the basketball team in 2017-2018, which means you’ve only been away from the Heights for one academic year. Tell us what you’ve been up to over the past year.
Assistant Coach Andie Anastos: I was working and living back in Michigan. I was working at a company called Suburban Sports Group; they own and operate six different ice arenas and the hockey clubs that go with them, so I was in a hockey operations role working with the hockey director. And then I’ve also been coaching Honeybaked Girls 19 & under team, which is the team I played for when I was growing up. Megan Keller played there; Haley McLean played there as well.
BCI: I think Kelli Stack did as well too – we’ve had a lot of players come to the program from that team.
You played on the BC Women’s Hockey team so recently that you were actually on the roster with the entire senior class. Does that dynamic of being a former teammate pose a challenge?
ACAA: It does, obviously that’s a different relationship that I’ll have with them now. Honestly it feels like it’s been forever since I played even though it hasn’t been that long. But I know that I already had a relationship with them as their captain and I know that they trust me so that’s a good standpoint to have.
BCI: You were one of the one of the few two-time captains in history of the program, and then you went off to captain the women’s basketball team as a graduate student. Three years as a captain is a long time. How has that prepared you for your career behind the bench?
ACAA: It’s a way to understand team dynamic and also a way that I can help other players who are going to be in that role. So I think it will definitely help.
BCI: How was BC sold to you as a recruit and what would you add or subtract to that message to the players you’ll now be recruiting?
ACAA: When I came and walked around campus, took a tour with my family, and met Court and Kinger [Associate Head Coach Courtney Kennedy and Head Coach Katie Crowley], just their relationship and their dynamic, they seemed super fun. So that’s how I expected the team to be. And I just love the campus. So that was why I was interested in coming to BC.
Honestly I don’t really have anything that I would add to that, I loved being able to see how close their relationship was. I didn’t really get to see the team before I committed, so having recruits seeing a couple of players around would be great because it’s a good group.
BCI: In your first year as a captain, which was the year that we lost the national championship game after being undefeated, you were the only one to come out for the post-game presser. Many of us felt that that you showed some pretty special leadership qualities doing that after such a tough loss. How do you think those leadership qualities show up differently as a coach than as a player?
ACAA: It’s different in that I’m not going to be out on the ice. There’s a way to lead out on the ice by example through practice and everything that you do, and as a coach you don’t have the opportunity to show that “I’m the hardest working type of player” type of leadership technique. There are different leaders, there are the ones who are the hardest working players out there that people look up to want to try to beat.
But I’m more vocal, so I can talk to the kids, and I like forming relationships with players. Forming a connection and being able to talk is important because having a good relationship with them is a big deal.
BCI: You had the unique experience of playing for a powerhouse on the hockey team and then moving over to the basketball team which really had a difficult season while you were there. What perspective did being a captain on the basketball team give you that you didn’t get as a captain of the hockey team?
ACAA: That was different because I was coming into something where they were asking me to look at culture and trying to build a stronger dynamic within the team and hopefully that would translate onto the court. That was one difference, that I came into hockey and it had an established culture, it had who we are and how we wanted to play and all of those aspects to it that were already established.
In basketball, I was coming in and trying to build something different and trying to build off what they had, but also create something that was going to make them push in the right direction. Just being able to understand knowing how important it is to have your core set of values as a team and how that’s going to help you, and a good culture is a very strong foundation that’s needed. If you don’t have that, things break down throughout the season. You need to have that to rely on.
BCI: Along those same lines, I’m not sure you could be joining the hockey staff at a more critical time. We lose two of our Olympic defenders and several other really important players to graduation, and there’s elephant in the room of the rumors of two other players transferring on top of that. But despite having all that talent, and now losing all that talent, the program hasn’t won a tournament trophy since your overtime goal in the 2017 Hockey East championship game. So what is the difference between a talented team and a championship winning team?
ACAA: It really all comes down to working as a team. Hockey is such a team sport, you can have the best players in the world — as you’ve seen through BC Hockey, we’ve had the best players in the world on teams and not come away with that one trophy that we’ve always been looking for. It comes down to just everyone needs to buy into what their role is on this team and they need to do that to the best of their ability.
You can go play a team and they may be the last ranked team in the division and you may be the topped ranked team, but they can have a goalie that stands on their head and you’re just struggling to find the back of the net and lose a game where you outshoot a team like 40 to 8. That’s just how hockey is and that’s how the game is, and it’s just understanding that you can’t get frustrated in those moments. Leadership is always a big deal, if you have those players who will remain calm and who’ll keep it keep moving forward. You want your underclassmen to be able to learn from them and grow. BC hockey has had that where they’ve had strong people at the top and the freshmen have learned from them and they’ve been able to build off of that.
But I just think it’s such a team sport that you need everyone to buy into what their role is, to buy into what those characteristics and values are of the team and play it to the best of their ability and that’s the biggest thing I you could ask for.
BCI: How would you describe Coach Crowley and coach Kennedy individually as coaches and how do you see yourself meshing with them as part of a staff?
ACAA: I just think that they’re both great. Kinger’s really smart and really understands the game and she’s very competitive and wants to win, as you can see on the bench. She wants the best for the kids, she understands the game super well and knows what it takes to win. And Court’s the same way, Court’s very competitive too but Court also understands people very well. But they have such a great dynamic together too. If you just hang out around them you know that they just genuinely want to be around each other and they have fun with what they do, they love what they do and they’re passionate about it. That’s just a huge thing to have. It’s great to be around them.
And then I’m just going to bring a different dynamic. They’ve been so close for all this time. I was here when Gillian Apps was our third assistant coach, and just seeing what she brought is something I like I kind of look towards. She wasn’t trying to force her way into their relationship but she was able to gradually grow and teach all the players different things, especially as the forwards coach. She was able to teach and focus on the forwards a little bit more especially in-game and give them some more personal attention, with Court focusing on the D and Kinger controlling everything going on during the game.
For me having played for them and knowing things that went really well for us and things that we could be better at, I just think I have a different perspective and I understand things differently since I played for those two for four years and I’ve been able to form a good relationship with them.
BCI: You come from a family that’s got a pretty successful coaching history. How has that affected how you viewed your career path coming out of college and how you were as a former captain and now coach?
ACAA: I think I should give my parents a lot of credit, just how they raised me and my siblings. That was something — I don’t think, I know for a fact — that was something that was able to help me grow into the leader that I was able to be through my college career. I was never really pushed by my parents to have to decide what I want to do. They didn’t force me to decide between playing hockey or basketball and I was able to play both. Until I ended up committing to play hockey I had no idea what I was going to do. After I committed to play hockey I was still able to play basketball for another season just because I wanted to because it was fun.
So I knew my parents never pressured me and never forced that upon me, and same thing with coaching; this was all my decision to come and I wanted to do this. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do after I graduated. After I coached last season with the U19 girls team I really enjoyed it and figured this was something I would like to pursue further.
I have a good relationship with my family, I’ve learned a lot from my dad [former Michigan State Head Coach Tom Anastos] specifically from this type of world and what comes with it. I know it can be a lot, it can be really hard on you. Like with his time at Michigan State, they had a lot going on and they were trying to change around the program. So that’s a different position than I’m in right now, but I know that I’ve learned a lot of good qualities from both of my parents that have made me who I am and what I would like to pursue further.
Thank you to Andie for taking the time to sit down with us to answer some questions! You can follow Boston College’s newest coach on Twitter at @Andie_Anastos. The puck drops on the 2019-2020 women’s hockey season in October!