Fields embraces the challenge, looks to change the culture
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
The word challenge; what does it mean?
According to Webster’s dictionary it means to say or show that (something) may not be true, correct, or legal or to question the action or authority of (someone).
That is exactly how new head coach Frances Fields describes the Darlington girls program she is now taking over: a challenge.
“The key word, challenge,” Fields said. “It’s a challenge to change the culture, it’s a challenge to change the attitude and behavior of before and honestly the girls have taken it as a task that everyday there is an improvement.”
Changing culturing, changing attitude and changing behavior is not something that can be changed at the snap of finger. Instead, it is a process; it is something that takes time and effort and not be corrected overnight.
So what is Fields process? How does she look to reverse a problem that appears to be prevalent in the Lady Falcons program?
“Mindset, the attitude,” Fields said on what she looks to change in the Darlington locker room. “Once you can believe it in your mind and once you know what it takes in your mind to actually get it done and compete at that level of state championship then you can change a program. It takes an everyday fight to get that mind right.”
It has been a long time since the Lady Falcons have been truly competitive and Fields, who took the Lakewood Lady Gators, a region six, 3A rival of Darlington’s to the state championship last year, wants to change that and she knows more than anybody it is going to be that key phrase; a challenge.
Darlington is going to be without some key components it had last year. Gone is Deanna House, gone is Heidi McNeil and in is a new group of players ready to prove they not only belong, but that they can accomplish things that have not been accomplished before.
Fields, though, is not willing to say who she looks to step up and contribute this season. Instead, she said the team and her are focusing on the word “team” and in order to do that she is refraining from naming any players by name.
“In my emphasis of them is it is a team effort so I don’t want to standpoint one because I’m preaching to them every day, team, team, team, so if we get it done as a team that’s the goal.” Fields said on why she will not name any players as key contributors.
So with a team with so many new faces and so many challenges what are reasonable expectations for the Lady Falcons? While the mass contingents would say a rebuild process and learning phase is going to have to take place before successful results are seen, Fields, coming from a successful program, sees it differently.
“Honestly my expectations are very high for the girls,” Fields said on her idea of how the season will go. “I don’t think they even know or understand it yet. But I see fight in us already, I see a drive that I saw last year with my previous team which is a good sign because last year we made it pretty far.”
But how can Fields expect such a season with so many unknowns? It is because of the one known; Darlington is the underdog and completely undercover.
“No one is going to expect us to win, I like being the underdog,” Fields said on what propels her to have such high expectations in her first year at Darlington. “At Lakewood we were the underdog and we got to state, we are the underdog at Darlington, hopefully we will get back to state. So I like being the underdog. It makes you want to fight even harder.”
But if something is such a challenge what drives a person to leave something that is already successful, especially when that “something” is all the person knows? According to Fields, whose entire coaching career has been at Lakewood, it’s all about the opportunity present.
“The opportunity to work with a whole new group and work with a whole new staff,” Fields said on what led her to Darlington. “Coach Jones and Dr. Harrison, they have good communication with me and it’s just that business vibe that you want. Constantly, if there is something wrong I am able to talk to them about it and get it done.”
Starting against West Florence on November 30 Fields will get that opportunity and many more as the Lady Falcons have a tough schedule ahead that will not only measure where they are currently, but where they need to get for the future.